Customers are not just looking for transactions, they’re looking for experiences
Looking at the rise in online shopping, it may seem that customers are just looking for fast and convenient transactions. It’s true, they do want to find a product without having to leave the warmth of their home; they would like it delivered to them as soon as possible. In short, they have expectations of a service that completely works around them.
In online retail transactions, there is no human contact. Everything is set up for the customer to do as they please; plenty of products and delivery options are available to them and they can rely on the product arriving in time. However, although not everything can be bought online, incredibly high customer expectations have filtered into human sales transactions.
Businesses now need to work harder than ever before to impress and retain customers. One slip up and customers will move to another supplier. In order to deliver beyond customer expectations, businesses must analyse the customer experience: what can make it great? What can ruin it? What could be a pleasant surprise?
The Apple Example
Businesses that deliver memorable experiences for their customers will endure a brand boost, gain more clients and retain the business of those who already purchase from them. Take the example of Apple. Just from looking at their stores, it’s evident that they have meticulously planned the customer experience. Their layout is minimalist and spacious; high ceilings, soft lighting, no clutter, no garish price signs and no tall aisles that people get lost in. They employ plenty of staff (who speak numerous different languages; again, customer convenience is at the fore of their thinking), all of whom are well informed about the products.
Apple provides an in-store customer experience that is difficult to compete with. They have crafted a brand that is easily accessible and somewhat chic, from the moment people see the fronts of their flagship stores; they gain a sense of majesty. The high ceilings, wide walkways and neutral colours all contribute to a chic image. Customers are likely to feel good about themselves when they walk into an Apple store and are greeted by staff, helped with all of their enquiries and can go home with exactly what they were looking for.
The Tourism Example
Tourists travel to a country seeking novelty, knowledge and most importantly, experiences. This is where tour operators can really cash in on customer expectations and deliver memorable experiences that some customers are willing to pay through the nose for. Whether it’s a hot air balloon ride over the ancient Moroccan city of Marrakech or an elephant ride in the jungle of Thailand, the experience is made very convenient, accessible and pleasurable for the customer.
Customers are happy to pay because they see high value in the experiences they will gain, the memories and souvenirs they will take away from it and most importantly, the fact that everything is taken care of for them. They don’t have to worry about anything, or nag anyone to remember who they are and what they are looking for. All they really need to do is turn up with the cash, and everything else is put on like a show the customer becomes the star of.
Memorable customer experience in Business
The types of customer experiences that businesses can deliver will differ depending on their industry, products and services. However, it is important to keep in mind that in order to go beyond customer expectations and build a service that is pleasurable, reliable and makes the customer feel special, companies must plan ahead. They must develop a good understanding of their customer base, their tastes, personalities and preferences. Individual, customised and experiential service can be found everywhere, and in order to maintain their competitive edge (and brand), it’s important that businesses hold the customer experience at the core of everything they do.
Where more and more products and services are becoming packaged and commoditised, the need to differentiate is huge. This will only happen through developing unique and memorable customer experiences.