In the Experience Economy, clients and customers are empowered when you build a relationship with them that gives them what they want and when they want it. Think Uber, AirBnB, Disney and scores of lesser known businesses that you personally engage with because you relish the experience they offer.
When you’re successful at building this kind of business yourself, your clients and customers become your brand ambassadors who deliver a believable narrative to everyone they know. Your clients and customers feel like you belong to them and vice versa.
Take a company that I’ve mentioned to you before, Patagonia Inc., the clothing retailers. I’ve mentioned that you can send your 30-year old, somehow-damaged Patagonia clothing back to them where they will repair it and return it to you. That’s because they know you love their product as much as they do, and they stand by its quality. Are they satisfied to let their customers churn through their product purchases? No, because that wouldn’t fit with their promise of sustainability and environmental stewardship, an ethic their customers embrace as well.
Patagonia is prepared to play the long game, which is the lifetime of their customer relationship. They price accordingly – their product isn’t cheap. But it embraces a story that resonates with certain discriminating buyers, and that is who their market is.
They’ve launched a new service that assumes the next logical step in this ethic. They promote reuse between their customers because it is in keeping with their aim to limit environmental harm. It’s a program called Common Threads. They now will take back your discarded Patagonia clothing, the apparel you no longer want or can fit into, and they will restore it for resale to someone else who wants it. Has this hurt their bottom line? Not at all. Do customers love it? Absolutely.
Sweden’s Electrolux is no different. Buy a vacuum from them, and they will keep you in the service loop for decades to ensure your vacuum lasts that long as well.
Pricing for quality is never an issue when your value is valued.
Clients and customers who buy into your brand narrative do so because authenticity is both exceptional and reflects similarly on the buyer. It resonates as being real, inclusive and exclusive. It draws the consumer into the brand story, one that is company-wide and believed by every employee they engage with. Furthermore, that story acts as insulation in this digital age. All the technology in the world will fall short if it is not relevant or engagingly offered by the people selling it. Companies are finding that old ethics endure as the disruption in the marketplace settles down around them.
As you consider these things and how you might shift more experience into your practice, I’m reminded of something Steve Martin once said: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”