What Experiences are you delivering?

Over 100 years ago Ralph Waldo Emerson was credited with the famous quote:

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It turns out he might not have said exactly that, but it’s generally what he meant – implying that if you have a great product then marketing and sales will take care of itself.

That may have been true in Mr. Emerson’s time… and maybe even as recently as 20 or 30 years ago… but today having a great product (or service) is just the starting point. You must do more if you want repeat buyers and referrals – you also have to deliver a great experience.

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Great Experience Examples…

I recently had the opportunity to go to Rome and we took a half a day out to tour the Colosseum with a guided group.

Colosseum Tour

*Note – the seagull was not part of our tour group, but did add some nice local color…! 😉

As you might expect, the Colosseum is a pretty popular place and there were dozens of tours available on the day that we went. We got lucky and our tour guide Sev was exceptional. Not only was he knowledgeable and very good at the technical aspects of being a guide, but he also has a great knack for story telling. He did a fantastic job of engaging the entire group and really ‘bringing the history to life’.

In short, he delivered a terrific experience – one that we’ll remember and excitedly share with others.

Unfortunately for the thousands of other attendees to the Colosseum on that day, not all guides deliver that same level of experience. We talked with many others who got to see all of the same things and technically did what we did… but they didn’t have a great experience.

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Dog Sitting (and more…)

Another great experience happened while we were on the same trip. We have two big dogs who are part of the family and since we were going to be gone for quite a while, we decided to get a dog (and house) sitter to watch ‘the boys’ while we were away.

We used Katie’s Kennel and she did a fantastic job. Not only did she take care of the dogs (which is what you’d expect), but she also checked in with us every day with a picture or a video to let us know how the dogs were doing. It’s a little thing, but that along with her obvious passion for the dogs transformed a service into a great experience (for us and for the dogs).

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What about Products?

It’s easier to imagine a great experience with a service business – there are a lot more touchpoints with the customers that are directly related to the core of the business (you’re paying for service).

But product companies can (and must) also deliver great experiences. This starts with the buying experience and continues on through delivery, support, service and even billing.

Think about how easy Amazon has made it to buy things… and get them shipped really quickly.

What about when you find a retail shop that’s a pleasure to spend time in? On our trip we ended up in lots of shops (touristy and otherwise) and there was a huge difference between those who made it easy (and fun) to shop and buy… and those who just carried a lot of stuff.

(Great shop in Mykonos – fun and friendly).

The difference was a focus on delivering a great experience.

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What about your business?

The good news is that anyone or any business can deliver a great experience and in fact, smaller businesses have an edge over their large business, corporate counterparts. A smaller business is naturally more personal and it’s easier to make changes and adjust to the marketplace.

However it’s not enough to sometimes deliver a great experience. The goal is to consistently deliver a great experience – which means you don’t want to leave it to chance.

Here are some thoughts on how you could start doing that:

Look for friction

An easy way to start upgrading your experiences is to look for any friction that your customers might have in doing business with you. Are there consistent complaints about something small? Could you have friends or family shop your business and tell you where the interaction is difficult or challenging?

Removing friction doesn’t guarantee a great experience, but it certainly makes it a lot more likely and it’s a good place to start.

Hire and promote for Customer Service

Having a great product (or service) isn’t enough, so you strategically need to find people who naturally like to serve (and are good at it). Do you have people currently on your team who love to support your customers? Can you have them do more of that?

When you hire, are you putting a premium on attitude and approach over skills and resume?

Intentionally Create a Great Experience

When’s the last time (if ever) that you and your team took the time to intentionally create a great experience for your customers (one that could be repeated consistently)?

Our guide at the Colosseum created a 10 minutes interactive discussion that illustrated a typical day in the Colosseum (almost 2000 years ago). This was clearly something he had developed and practiced – but it had a great impact on the group and it was something that he likely used all the time.

Consistently delivering great experiences isn’t an easy thing to do – but the payoff is huge. If you can pull it off, it’s the difference between a business that will thrive and one that will struggle.

What do you think? Do you have any great examples of great customer experiences? Are you focusing on this in your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach

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