Are you a stager of great experiences?
Are your people?
Is your business?
There is, and has been for some time, a philosophical shift in the way businesses are having to think about how they acquire, maximise, and retain customers.
Customers are more informed, more educated, and have more choices than ever before.
Products and services are simply the props that companies use to engage customers, the experience they provide is the ‘true’ differentiator.
The prize of getting this right – greater advocacy among existing and future customers, a business culture where your people want to come to work and be the best they can be and the competition on the floor because they cannot replicate your experience.
So how do you and your business become a stager of great experiences?
By satisfying and meeting the four specific psychological needs of a customer…..
- The tangible needs
- The informational needs
- The intangible needs
- The affiliation needs.
Let me bring these to life with a really simple analogy.
Do you have a favourite restaurant you visit on a regular basis?
I do, it’s a great Italian called Ristorante Italiano Buschetto.
The first psychological need
The tangible need is the physical product or service that you provide, so in this case its food, a meal.
But there’s a challenge facing Ristorante Italiano Buschetto just like all restaurants, which is this: if you did a Google search of restaurants within a small radius of around three miles, there are 72 other restaurants offering their own tangible needs. There are Chinese, Thai, Indian, French, Greek, Turkish, and at least four other Italian restaurants.
That’s a crowded marketplace to compete in, and it’s unlikely therefore that the tangible needs alone, however good they may be, will be enough to differentiate it from the competition. In fact, those tangible needs merely give Ristorante Italiano Buschetto the right to exist and to compete, as a baseline.
The second psychological need
Now, imagine that you arrive at Ristorante Italiano Buschetto, are seated, given a menu, and you place your order with your waiter. You may think this serves the informational needs, and that you’ve been offered everything you require in order to make your selection.
But then, a waiter walks past with two dishes that look fantastic, and leaves an aroma behind him of garlic and herbs that hits your nose and sends all your senses into overdrive. You call him over and ask what it was, and he tells you that it’s fresh lobster served on linguine with the chef’s special garlic and herb sauce. It’s very popular and utterly delicious.
You comment that you can’t believe you missed it when you were reading the menu, and the waiter smiles. ‘Ah well you see, that dish isn’t on the menu; it’s on today’s specials board.’ Since he never told you about the specials as you were ordering, how do you think you’d feel at that point? Not so positive any more, I’m guessing. I certainly wouldn’t be, and all because the waiter missed the opportunity to proactively satisfy my informational needs. Proactively being the operative word!
As a Ristorante Italiano Buschetto regular, you may be generally pleased with your regular choice, because you know it’s going to be great, but you’re also irritated and feeling a little like you’ve missed a great opportunity.
An hour later, as you’re paying the bill, the waiter asks if you enjoyed your food and all you can think to respond is ‘Yes, but . . . I wish I’d had the fresh lobster in garlic and herb sauce.’ You’re a disappointed customer and all because your informational needs were not satisfied in a proactive way.
Your previously favourite restaurant has disappointed you.
Out of the four psychological needs, this need is the least satisfied, and yet one of the easiest to fulfil for your customers!
How much extra would it have cost to fulfil the information need? Nothing!
In a world where the BIG things make little difference, it’s the little things that make a BIG difference. The little things usually cost very little, but they can be game changers in raising the bar on the overall experience you deliver to your customers.
Putting this in the context of your business, if, after placing an order for a product or service, customers contact you for a status update and to chase where it is, there should be an alarm bell ringing that the informational needs of your customer have not been satisfied in a proactive manner.
The third psychological need
Let’s go back to Ristorante Italiano Buschetto, I walk in and the waiter says: ‘Hi Royston, Hi Jane (they greet you and your partner by name), we haven’t seen you for a while. Would you like your usual table in the corner? The couple have paid the bill and are just finishing their coffees. Why don’t you go through to the bar and I will prepare the table and come and get you in 10 minutes?’
How would you feel at this point? I think most of us would feel pretty special. However, the waiter goes one step further: ‘Can I get you a drink while you’re waiting, Royston do you want your usual, a Peroni? Jane a gin and tonic, Bombay gin isn’t it?’ How are you feeling now? Even more special? That’s satisfying your intangible needs in action!
You’re probably already imagining how far you can go with this, and it’s limitless.
What if while you’re drinking your Peroni, the waiter points out the specials board to you and takes you through them, describing each one and answering your questions. I’m confident you’d call that a memorable experience, and it’s a great example of how intangible needs can be brought to life.
Intangible needs are all about the emotional engagement and connection with the customer, creating a lasting impression and leaving them feeling individual, special, and unique.
And finally, the fourth psychological need
Picture the following scenario; you go to work on Monday morning and you’re talking to one of your colleagues. They’re racking their brain to think of a great restaurant to take their family to for a celebration next weekend and they ask you if you can recommend somewhere.
What’s the first place that pops into your head?
Ristorante Italiano Buschetto, of course. You ask if they like Italian food and when they say yes, you have the enormous pleasure of being able to say: ‘Then try Ristorante Italiano Buschetto. When you call, mention my name and they’ll give you a great table and look after you.’
That’s Affiliation in ACTION!
Humans have a need to belong, to feel part of a group. Organisations that are able to meet these needs build a band of loyal customers, who buy again and again and again.
When you satisfy the tangible, informational, intangible and affiliation needs of your customers, they become your #1 advocates, your sales force, active in the marketplace voluntarily and joyfully promoting you and your business.
Make this real for your business and use my 8 question checklist to carry out a mini audit on your business…
- Is your business a stager of great experiences?
- Do you talk about service or experience? Which do you want to be known for?
- What’s the tangible need you fulfil for customers? Is it world-class?
- On a scale of 1-10 how good are you and your business at satisfying the informational needs of your customers across your end to end customer journey (from enquiry to purchase to post sale)
- On a scale of 1-10 how good are you and your business at satisfying the intangible needs of your customers across your end to end customer journey
- On a scale of 1-10 how good are you and your business at satisfying the affiliation needs of your customers across your end to end customer journey
- What are your next steps and actions to take to review your customer experience strategy?
- How are you going to measure it?
Remember, customers want memorable experiences.
Are you and your business a stager of great experiences?
Let me know what you think of this week’s blog in the comments box below. I’d love to know your thoughts.