The Real Experience

The Case of the Elusive Experience

“Watson, what do you believe to be the ‘Customer Experience’,” asked The Effective Detective, beginning another of our business discussions.

“Well sir, I would have to say that it is related to the service that customers receive. How they are greeted, what happens after the sale, handling of problems, etc.,” I answered.

“Excellent Watson! I believe you have defined almost perfectly what most people believe is the ‘Customer Experience’,” exclaimed The Detective.

“I sense a but… sir,” I cautiously responded.

“How observant of you Watson,” The Detective said, giving me a slight smile that indicated something else was coming. “You are quite right. You see, whilst that definition is 100% completely correct, it is also incomplete.”

“Incomplete, sir? Perhaps I left out a few additional things that can be done in customer service,” I replied, feeling a little bit of confusion.

“Perhaps Watson, but that is not what I was referring to. What is incomplete is that you refer to the experience only as it relates to customer service. In fact, the customer experience encompasses not only the service the customer received in purchasing, but also what they purchase, how they feel about themselves, and most importantly the emotional response they have to the overall process. When those factors are brought in as well you start to see something about this experience that most people miss.

“When there are discussions regarding customer experience they are almost always rated good or bad based on specific service metrics – ‘was the customer properly greeted in the appropriate amount of time’, ‘were all of their questions handled properly’, and low marks in any of those metrics downgrade the rating. I will admit, there is something to be said for such scientific analysis, other than those metrics tend to be one-size-fits-all, which as you know Watson, I absolutely loath.

“The fact of the matter though is that the customer experience is an overall emotional experience. It is an expectation that the business itself can define, and the customer can choose to engage or not.”

“I am not sure what you are saying sir, an example perhaps?” I quickly interjected, taking advantage of a slight pause.

“Certainly Watson, let me select one that most everyone could identify with: shopping at Walmart. I don’t think I would be stretching things if I said most people do not shop at Walmart for the excellent service they receive. Yet, there is an experience there. It is really quite simple: People go to Walmart to have a wide selection of cheap stuff that they can buy at rock bottom prices. They leave pleased that they have saved money. They do not walk into Walmart expecting a shopping concierge to guide them around the store to help them choose their packages. They do not expect the clerks to enthusiastically greet them or better yet to recognize them, and inquire as to the success of their shopping excursion. No. They expect to find low prices on most likely cheap stuff. That is exactly what Walmart provides, and not much more, and they have been amazingly successful.

“This is why some, albeit not all, existing small businesses around a new Walmart tend to fail. They try to duplicate an experience that their buying power with vendors will not allow. They do not try to design an experience that would attract some aspect of their market. If the market is there for a different experience and it is marketed correctly, one could survive in the shadow of a Walmart, but I can guarantee you Watson, offering ‘better customer service’ will rarely be the deciding factor, there must be an emotional trigger that is more important than price, or whatever it is one is competing against, ” The Detective finished.

“It is never easy is it sir?” I sighed.

“Quite Watson. Simple in its way, but business is never easy.”

Swinging for the Fences

The Case of the Opportune Observation

“Sir, I have an observation I would like to get your opinion on,” I began today’s conversation.

“Quite Watson, and what would that observation be?” asked The Detective.

“It would seem that the conventional wisdom today is that one should ‘swing for the fences’ every time you attempt something,” I stated.

“A baseball metaphor Watson? How interesting,'” observed The Detective.

“I admit to some difficulty in selecting an appropriate metaphor for what I am observing. It appears to be this feeling that you should be trying to hit a home run every time you step up to the plate, if I can be forgiven for extending the baseball metaphor,” I replied, perhaps a bit sheepishly.

“Actually, I believe the metaphor to be most apt, Watson,” The Detective assured me.  “It is that belief that prevents a large number of small business people from attempting more simple programs that while not bringing in the kind of results that say a well thought out, expertly written, and executed direct mail campaign to ten or twenty thousand prospects would, might still have respectable returns. What these business people see instead is the need to ‘hit a home run’ and they are terrified to risk it because, ‘what if they get it wrong?’. Frankly, seeing the state of a lot of marketing pieces these days, I would say they are right to be terrified,”  pausing only for a second before continuing on.

“Let me tell you a story about my distant childhood, Watson.”

“I’m not sure that is necessary,” I objected, not sure where this was going to lead.

“Poppycock! Of course it is necessary,” The Detective corrected me, “I shall get to the point directly, if that is what you are afraid of Watson.”

At this point I felt the better part of valor was retreat, so I asked him to continue.

“When I was a young lad, I played baseball. I was probably the smallest person on the team, and not very strong, yet I was always assigned to bat first in the line-up. Can you guess why Watson?” The Detective asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Actually, no sir, I cannot imagine.” I answered, figuring this would be the fastest way to the answer.

“Because, Watson, whilst I was physically incapable of hitting a home run, I was very good at hitting singles. Simply put, I got on base a lot. If I was on base, than obviously I had a much greater chance to score than if I was not. If I had spent my every at-bat  ‘swinging for the fences’ I would never have hit a home run, and probably rarely gotten on base.

“As a small business you most likely will not have a huge budget for marketing – not a lot of strength to hit those home runs that bring in gobs of prospects. But even with a small budget, you can get on base. You can get some prospects to engage, to begin a relationship, and hopefully to, at the risk of a double entendre, eventually score;  to do business with them. Certainly a greater percentage than if you do nothing due to fear of risking a large lump sum. The point is to do something intelligent with the resources that you have,” The Detective concluded.

“A nice summing up of the metaphor sir, ” I responded.

“Thank you Watson, shall we move on?” said The Detective, closing the discussion.


One Thing to Bring Them All and in The Business Bind Them

The Mystery of the Marketing Trilogy Part 3

“So Watson, when last we met you had deduced that something was missing. We had provided a ‘Why’ our prospect should be interested and we had told them ‘What’ was required to address said ‘Why’. Yet, something was missing. Now what would that be Watson?” The Detective prompted.

“Well, sir, how would I go about doing this ‘What’ that you described?” I asked.

“Exactly, Watson! The How! The third part of the trilogy! That is what some percentage of your prospects will pay for! Once they understand why this is important to them, and what to do, some will not possess the knowledge or skill to know how to go about doing the ‘What’; some of them will just want someone to do it for them.

“Without the first two steps though, the ‘Why’ they should care, and the ‘What’ to do to address it – and this content is so often missing from presentations, you cannot build the urgency, and you cannot build their trust and confidence in you. Many presenters are so afraid that some people will go off on their own, that they actually give virtually no content, mostly just teasers. What they don’t realize is they are driving away a large number of people, because they do not make their case convincingly.” The Detective finished with a flourish.

“But sir, what about the ones that think they already know how, and go off on their own without taking you up on your ‘How’?” I interjected.

“Well Watson, those people will generally break into one of two camps. The first we will call The Successful Doers. They will scurry off with the information you have given them, execute on it, and most likely will encounter some, or possibly a good amount of success. They will often return to you for more information, and may just encounter something you are offering that they can’t do for themselves or will see the wisdom in working with you, and feeling that you know from whence you speak, engage you to help them. The second we will call The Not Ready Yets. Their businesses or lives may not quite be ready for what you are offering. They may not be able to afford your service or product, or are still debating the value. They will most likely dabble a bit with what you have given them, and have just a  small amount, if any, success. They also have a high probability of returning for other pieces of information you are giving out, and hopefully at some point they will find a price point they can handle, or encounter just enough success to properly engage you and will move forward like The Successful Doers.”

“It seems like a distinctly win-win situation, sir.” I said enthusiastically.

“Admittedly Watson, there is a third camp: The Takers. They will always come to hear you, take what you give, and never become your customer. Luckily, they are more rare than you would expect.

“The overall effect though is quite advantageous to all parties. Your audience gets ideas to work with, and if they desire, the help they need, you gain a well deserved reputation for being knowledgeable in your field, and most likely, more than a few clients. A definite win-win.”

“An objective well suited for a professional, sir,” I responded.

“Quite so, Watson, quite so.”


The Mystery of the Missed Marketing Message

The Effective Detective was never a big one for newspapers (especially the ones that are mostly or all advertisements), being more of an email guy, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when he got a tad upset when I brought to his attention an ad he had missed concerning a favorite restaurant of his.

“What’s that Watson? One of my favorite restaurants not only has an entertainer I would enjoy, but a special? When shall we go?”

“I’m afraid all of that is in the past tense sir. Last week to be precise.”

“Confound it, Watson! I don’t read those bloody papers! I have enough to do already let alone leafing through a collection of coupons and offers I generally have no interest in, just to see if there might be one that catches my fancy.” It would seem I had started a minor storm.

“Well sir, I don’t think they could go about calling every one of their customers to let them know what is happening on a regular basis. Far more cost efficient to do the ad.” I offered, watching the sarcasm, knowing that might trigger a bigger storm.

“Bah!” The Detective spat out, “I have been to that restaurant countless times, you would think they would have some kind of loyalty program set up.”

“Perhaps sir, but not everyone has the time, or in particular the resources to organize and run such a thing, and where could they get your contact information?” I replied, playing devil’s advocate.

“Again… Bah!” The Detective retorted, “Just have a simple sign up sheet, then type in the name and email addresses into an email program and send out offers and notices through that! For heaven’s sake they could queue up any number of dates at once and then let it run on auto-pilot. If they send useful offers or information on a regular basis, I would actually be looking forward to their emails, instead of having to sift through these bloody papers. And, I wouldn’t have missed the one last week! ” The Detective finished with a sigh.

“I see your point,” I answered, “could this also be utilized by other non-food establishments?”

“Of course Watson! Any retail outlet could easily do the same thing!” The Detective shot back.

“What could they use to do such a thing?” I asked.

“There are any number of inexpensive services out there,” The Detective replied, starting to calm down again. “But that discussion is for another time.”

“Of course,” I nodded, “Of course.”