We come from many industries. We have different roles and different responsibilities, different titles and different skills. But no matter what we do, or how we do it, we share one thing in common – we are all in the experience business.
Customer experience is the great differentiator. It’s the voice of us and our organization. It’s the personality we bring to our work. It’s the reason why customers choose us when other comparable – and often cheaper – options exist.
If the pains being felt in the retail industry are indicative of anything, it’s that consumer behaviors and tastes are rapidly changing. The market is tired of mediocrity, and not just in retail. Too often, the process of making a purchase has become impersonal, stagnant, and at times, overwhelming.
Consumers have near-infinite options, regardless of the category. This has created even tighter competition among sellers, who frequently choose to compete on price alone. We, too, can choose the route of commoditization, offering a similar product for a similar price in a similar way. But that isn’t a competitive advantage. It’s a strategy of “me too,” and it’s certainly not sustainable.
Rather, companies should commit to being purveyors of experiences, seeking to reshape the ways they communicate with and serve their customers. By providing value outside of the core product offering, companies have the opportunity to connect with their customers and create something noteworthy and memorable.
No organization is immune from this shift towards experience. The customer experience is just as relevant to plumbers and pediatricians as it is to big box retailers and amusement parks. While points of emphasis and the implementation of ideas may vary greatly from industry to industry, the goal is always the same – give customers a compelling reason to buy that is enjoyable, profitable, and sustainable.
This leaves companies, salespeople, and anyone responsible to the customer with a choice – to accept the customer experience as a tenant of their duties – or not. For those who choose to embrace this new paradigm, the magnitude of these changes can be substantial. A thoughtful, experience-based strategy can turn the mundane into the magnificent, resulting in richer connections, more loyalty, and – best of all – higher profitability.
Placing a focus on the customer experience doesn’t remove the realities of the market, of course. Competition will continue to increase. Unexpected shifts will occur. Customers will still seek a great value. But when properly orchestrated, a positive customer experience provides the most likely path to success for any company.
Every organization is already providing a customer experience – good, bad, or indifferent. Our challenge – and our opportunity – is to consciously create one that resonates with our customers, allowing them to make a confident purchase.
We, as buyers and sellers, should be excited about the avenues this presents. Dynamics are changing, sure, but they’re changing for the better. And we can play a part in that.