The Importance of Communications in the Experience Economy
A gifting trend has arisen in the early 21st century: experiences in lieu of physical presents. In “the experience economy,” the new generation of consumers with disposable income are focused on experiences over materials, memories over tangibility. This consumer may still be wooed by products, but it’s ultimately the experience that matters.
The way we consume physical products is consummate with brand experience. Now, when consumers purchase products, they want the overall experience from soup to nuts to be a positive and tailored to their needs and desires. The consumers in this scenario need to understand the why of the product; why they are buying what they are buying, why this is the best product on the market for their needs, and why this product will be able to solve their paint points. Every customer touchpoint can contribute to a positive experience.
Experiences can be woven into any buying experience. For example, in my current city, there is a bagel shop that recently expanded into several locations. The shop provides a better-than-average experience for the customers, who actually get to see how the bagels are made right in front of them. They get to watch the bagels being rolled, the bakers handling and shaping the dough, and the bagels being placed into a wood-burning oven to bake. While the customers are receiving the same product as they would at any other bagel shop, the experience is what’s different – it’s become a “bagel baking theater,” thereby enriching the overall experience. While this experience may cost more to setup and operate, the theory is that it should result in more business (and it apparently does, hence the expansion) – not necessarily because of the bagels themselves, but because of how the customers feel when they enter the store and literally see how the bread gets baked.
Customer Experience is King
The experience economy started as a theory; now, it’s rapidly ascending in the ranks as a primary brand goal. Known as “the fourth great stage in consumer development” – after commodities, goods, and services – the customer experience (CX) is now a main focus for business leaders. Why? Consumers drive the market, and what consumers want is not only a well-managed, thought-out good or service, but also the experience of buying from the brand.
Consider the rivalry between companies like Apple and Google, and the often
-good-natured arguments we see emerge on social media. Both sets of customers have strong opinions on the technology brands; Google phone users claim that their operating systems are better, while Apple users focus in on the brand itself and the “elite” status these customers seem to enjoy. Perhaps one brand does develop better products than the other – would it really matter to the loyalists?
The “Everything Customer”
The experience economy inevitably leads to “the Everything Customer.” What does the Everything Customer want? Well – everything. This is a demanding customer, who values their own experience above all else. They want what they want, and they want it now. Is this a difficult customer? Perhaps – but this type of consumerism is the wave of the future, and business leaders should get to know this customer. In fact, you could argue most consumers these days are Everything Customers; they want the experience along with the product or service that they are purchasing. They are not outliers, and they want brands that better serve their overall experience.
Satisfying the Everything Customer
Satisfying the Everything Customer may not be an easy task, but it’s one that a business and its leaders must undertake in order to remain relevant in today’s ever-changing market. As an article from CIO describes the Everything Customer: “Sometimes they want to serve themselves, other times they want to interact with a human. Sometimes they want businesses to use information they have on them to personalize their service and be proactive, but they also want their privacy to be respected. Sometimes they want to interact via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, other times they want traditional phone calls.” Understanding the Everything Customer occurs through the use of analytical and AI tools. Focusing in on Key Performance Indicators, metrics, use analytics tools, and reporting can help smart businesses understand how the Everything Customer came to be and what they truly want.
The concept and implications of the Everything Customer may seem like perhaps they’re not the customer for you, when in reality, they push brands and both large and small businesses alike to stretch their ingenuity. Smart businesses are wise to spend time learning how to understand them. Serving the growing demand of the Everything Customer is an opportunity for differentiation and for winning customer loyalty. Seeing business through the lens of experience will help companies and brands be proactive with the experiences they build.
The Authenticity of the Experience
The experience economy continues to grow, change, and develop. According to CIO, brands like Nordstrom and Disney have “led the way with their top-down approaches to CX.” Of course, when brands like that develop strategies that consistently exceed customer expectations and provide the golden ticket to customer loyalty and retention, other brands will naturally follow suit. Siegel+Gale estimated $98 billion is “left on the table” every year for brands that don’t invest in a strong, strategic approach in regards to brand experiences. That’s “billion” with a “b.”
Utilizing the Experience Economy for Your Small Business
With big companies like Apple managing their customers’ buying process from beginning to end, how can small businesses get in on ensuring their customers have key experiences that drive brand loyalty? Low prices and discounts always help, but perhaps that model is not sustainable long-term, depending on your industry or niche. One of the keys to keeping loyal customers and gaining new ones is to understand them and meet them where they’re at. Customer journey mapping will enable you to highlight how your customers interact with your brand. For example, if you own a restaurant, imagine how your customer’s journey through their experience at your establishment – what is being seated like? How is the menu – does it need updating? How long have your servers been working at your restaurant? What is the ambience like? How does it smell? It’s not just about the service but about the total experience. Mapping out a customer’s journey helps you get to know your customers better.
How Avaya Can Help
Avaya understands the importance of delivering a cohesive brand and total experience to attract and build an ongoing relationship with the Everything Customer. Connecting with your customers on a human level and simply talking through their experiences is key to establishing a solid brand that keeps your customers coming back. We’ve enabled some of the world’s biggest brands to understand and deliver what the Everything Customer would expect through solutions like Avaya OneCloud. Our tools and solutions help organizations provide effortless experiences at every touchpoint for both employees and customers. With Avaya tools, teams are brought together seamlessly, and resources and insights are made available to help you surprise and delight your Everything Customer. Reach out to an Avaya representative today to learn more.