There’s a concept within the Experience Economy called ING the Thing. It gets this title from the practice of developing an experience-directed mindset. Stay with me on this one. The first step in developing this mindset is to think in terms of ing words. For the grammarists out there, that means thinking in verbs.
Need an example? RVing.
Everyone pretty much can picture what it means to go RVing. Big motor home, all the bells and whistles (or not), highways, big vistas, freedom to pull in whenever the mood strikes and wherever the road goes. A lifestyle that’s a little bit turtle on wheels but with a bigger fuel bill.
A Recreational Vehicle is a thing. But when that thing has been converted into an activity, it has been inged. And when that activity becomes immersive and engaging and comes with some kind of price tag, it becomes an experience. Just ask Tom Wolfe or Ken Kesey.
Inging the Thing applies to every aspect of your business. Remember: in an environment where everyone is competing on price, the only thing that you can guarantee your clients is the unique experience of what it is like to do business with you.
Part of that experience is the calming, bullet-proofing preparedness you continually teach them in their role of being your client and an investor. That’s your professional expertise coming into play. Through careful portfolio choices and repeated mantras, they learn from you that being a wise investor means weathering market volatility because you’ve instilled in them a long-term view that you reinforce regularly. That’s excellent. That’s important. That’s necessary.
But in an environment in which everyone is competing on price, it is not everything. It’s not the hot sauce in the salsa, the scent of lavender on the hotel pillow, the customized label on your wine bottle.
How often (or have you ever) done an audit of how your office comes across to a stranger? Have you ever thought about the cohesive theme of this experience? To be effective, your theme needs to be concise, compelling and engaging. It dictates how you design the client experience – every element and every experience – so that they contribute to a comprehensive whole. And to help you do so, you need to break it down into five ing verbs – attracting, entering, during, exiting and extending.
These five ing states are the touchstones on your client’s interaction with you and your business. Every one of these states needs to be examined from inside and out and carefully staged and scripted into your processes.
When a new person makes first contact with your office, by phone or foot, what impressions do you strategically create for them? When they dial your number, what do they hear? Is it direct to a person who answers in a certain way? If they are placed on a short hold, what do they listen to?
When they enter your building, what do they see? If it is a large commercial foyer, are they greeted? If not, were they provided interesting instructions on how to find you? Did they have to walk 1500 steps from a commercial parking area to get there? If so, how can you frame that experience so that it works for you and for your client? Did they burn 110 calories or get in their required daily cardio?
When they arrive to your office, what do they see? Must they approach reception, or does reception approach them? You never want them to wait because VIPS don’t wait, but if they must, what is done to occupy their time in an engaging way? What sounds are played, what is showing on the screen? Something educational from Nova or the Discovery Channel? Something interactive?
I think you get the point. Inging the client or prospect experience means breaking down every step in their engagement with you and modifying it around your themed experience so that it becomes informative, engaging, positive and unique.
To do so, shift your approach by being microscopic about every element of design and activity. Walk through your own business from start to finish with a notepad. Play with ideas. Play. Your job is serious, your mission is serious, your clients have serious needs. But within all of that, there is room for play, for activity that is enjoyed from both sides of your desk, if you even use one.
And that right there might be one idea for a serious shift.