Treat yourself…to a good experience

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Think about your best customer service experience…

Was it selecting a nice wine at an elite restaurant? Taking wind surfing lessons at a Caribbean resort? Picking up milk at the grocery store? What resonated about that experience? What made it stand out? Who did you tell about it?

The distance between delight and disappointment narrows as it becomes easier for consumers to share experiences in social media. It’s no surprise that people like to be treated well.

It’s an often-reported fact that lipstick sales rise during times of economic challenge because it is seen as a small way for consumers to treat themselves. If people are willing to forego scarce resources to add a little delight to their lives, why is there not a customer service arms race happening across retail markets? Why, in the face of shrinking margins and fierce competition, are consumer product and service companies not falling over themselves to provide you with a “lipstick” experience?

I believe it’s because it’s easier to measure the cost savings of cutting features and personnel than it is to measure the ROI from delivering a delightful ecosystem experience to the marketplace. Apple’s success over the past several years has proven that delight sells. The market has spoken, and loudly. Each product and service within the ecosystem serves as ambassador to the greater portfolio. For many, the iPod was that free weekend at the timeshare that sold the market on fractional ownership in

Fruitvale Acres.

Other companies seeking to compete either miss the ecosystem story or execute it poorly. For example, RIM’s strategy to make the Playbook part of the Blackberry ecosystem requires a tethered Blackberry for access outside of Wi-Fi. It forces handset use for email on the larger screen and fails to let outsiders play. The experience without the handset does not merit a non-RIM customer to sample the experience.

Most Android competitors fall into this “lack of ecosystem” category. Their tablet as just another piece of hardware running an OS they don’t control. It’s not their fault per se. Laptop OEM’s are out of practice. Their recent experience is that customer loyalty is based on speeds and feeds, manufacturing quality, and industrial design. The intangibles of the experience birthed from the hardware/software experience tend to be owned by the OS provided, Microsoft or Google. Given the lack of industrial design potential behind a flat piece of glass wrapped with a battery, motherboard, and plastic, there is little left in their usual bag of tricks to differentiate the tablet experience.

This leaves most companies in the conundrum of betting the farm on new and unpredictable delightful experiences or bleeding to death by optimizing to metrics that obviously don’t drive success. Argus Insights’ measures of Experience Equity allow decision makers to tie the experience innovation to future revenue. We can answer questions such as:

  • Which product attributes matter the most to my customer?
  • Which experiences allow my competition to win?
  • Why are these experiences winning or losing?

With this level of sentiment data now available on demand, go ahead; treat your customers to the experience they deserve…and grab the mindshare you deserve.