Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Marketing Experiences, not Products

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 22, 2007

hockey-game.jpgCustomers don’t just purchase products or services.  They experience them.   I wrote last week about how my experience of getting my car repaired was about much more than how well those repairs were done. 

However, not many companies are focused on how their customer experiences are impacting their customers (unless they really blow it, and multiple blogs and YouTube videos pick it up).

The customer experience encompasses all aspects of a customer’s interaction with us.  It spans the sales, the packaging, the “out of box” experience (opening the product), the registration and installation/set-up, the usage, and the ongoing maintenance of the product or service (think PCs).  Or, in retail, it spans the in-store experience of the shelf displays, the size of the aisles, the crazy wheels on the shopping cart, the employees, the restrooms, the check-out lines and clerks, and the ease of returns.  In service, it spans the sales, the installation, the usage, the subscription, the monthly bills, and the upgrades (think cable/satellite TV).  Take a moment now and think of what this looks like for your company and your industry!

In the above-described customer lifecycle scenarios, many departments are responsible for the customer experience, including marketing, sales, R&D, manufacturing, customer service, field service, as well as training.  Thus the entire company plays a role in “marketing”, yet each of them has their own areas of expertise which they need to bring to the table in order to design the optimal customer experience. 

Yet as Mack Collier discussed in this post from The Viral Garden, many marketers are more focused on meeting their own needs than the needs of the customer.  Per Mack:

“Good marketing is any effort by a company/ individual/ association/ etc to DIRECTLY satisfy the wants and needs of its customer.”  I don’t think it has to get any more complicated than that.

But the hitching point is that ‘directly’ part. Most marketers want to satisfy their OWN wants and needs directly, and let satisfying the customer be a byproduct. Turning it around and using your marketing as a tool to directly satisfy the wants and needs of the community takes a pretty big leap of marketing faith.

When we focus on how many customers we can market our products to, we are focusing on our own wants and needs directly (sell more, get better leads, improve marketing campaign ROI).  When we focus on which products and services we can sell to each customer, we are focusing on meeting customer wants and needs. 

In other words, rather than focusing on increasing our market share and marketing ROI, we focus on increasing our customer share-of-wallet and value of each customer.  These latter measures are often left out of board room discussions but are essential for truly understanding the health of our customer base.

Once we understand our customer’s wants and needs, we can begin to market to them through the customer experience.  CustomersRock! companies create a strategy for a consistent, satisfying customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle.  Tomorrow, I will continue with part two of this series and begin to look at the various stages of the customer lifecycle as well as ideas for optimizing the customer experience at each customer touch point.

(Photo credit: D. Carroll)

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7 Responses to “Marketing Experiences, not Products”

  1. Becky you are such a freakin’ genius, I was nodding my head up and down as I read the first paragraph, and then I saw that you linked to my post. LOL! And you’re exactly right, the post-purchase experience is where the company has a HUGE chance to earn customer loyalty.

    Like you, I recently had to have a visit to the repair shop, but mine was for ‘routine’ maintenance to my Acura. My ‘local’ Acura dealer is actually over an hour away, and the mechanic told me over the phone that the repair would take about 5 hours. So I gritted my teeth and dropped the car off at the dealer, and went to the waiting room, with several books in hand. The waiting room had free juice, free papers, and a very comfy chair to sit in. Then after about 2 and a half hours, the mechanic surprised me by announcing that my car was done! Those very little things made me much prouder to be an Acura owner, and the next time someone mentions wanting a new car, I will be quick to tell them of my experiences!

  2. Takes one to know one, Mack! :-) Thanks for the compliment.

    Customer expectations are critical to managing the customer experience, as your Acura example shows. When expectations are met, all is well. When expectations are exceeded, we start to build loyalty and citizen marketers!

  3. [...] Experiences, not Products 30Jan07 Marketing Experiences, not Products: “Customers don’t just purchase products or services. They experience them. I wrote [...]

  4. [...] Carroll presents Marketing Experiences, not Products posted at Customers Rock!, saying, “Thanks for the opportunity! This post is the first part [...]

  5. Dale Wolf said

    For 20 years I made a really good living teaching clients how to do contextually relevant marketing. It has only been in the last five years or so that I finally realized it took more than context. The whole experience had to be good. Since then I have become an advocate of customer experience delivery. More so, because there is so much evidence that it is working in the new world where customers are in power. I write about it now exclusively at http://www.perfectCEM.com and will be adding your name to my blog as another person who really gets this the shift in customer satisfaction. Best of luck and keep plugging on the customer experience thing. Oh, yes,one more thing about the thing. I hate the phrase “customer experience management” as if I as a customer want to be managed. I will tell my suppliers when I want to be managed. Until then, I propose that we talk more about “customer experience delivery” than “customer experience management.”

  6. Hi Dale,

    Thank you very much for your comments and for sharing your expertise with us. Yes, the customer experience is more than just marketing. It truly moves across all places a customer is touching an organization. Small details are hard to track, but they do need to be “managed” in order to optimize the experience for our customers. We can’t really force our customers to feel one way or another about it or to even buy from us again, but we can control how we interact with our customers.

    Thank you for adding my name to your blog as someone who “gets it”! I appreciate the affirmation very much.

    Becky

  7. Customer Experience

    This week, my friend Stephanie Weaver, an experience expert in her own right, has been uncovering the true meaning of customer experience from experience bloggers around the web. She asked me earlier in the week to participate, so here you

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