Transforming from Providing Services to Creating Meaningful Experiences
Experiences are becoming increasingly important. Customers care about whether a company can actually deliver on its promise.
Brands spend billions of advertising and marketing dollars to capture our attention and help us consume. Branding is very much a buzzword at the moment in the marketing world and has now filtered into everyday conversation.
Did you know that the word brand is from the ancient North Scandinavian term meaning “to burn”? It actually refers to the practice of using branding irons on livestock to burn the farm’s name onto hides. It is also used in the practice of craftsmen engraving their names into products and personal belongings.
Modern marketing focuses on channeling customers as quickly as possible to automated systems. New technologies are being created to connect customers to the brand, at scale, through bots and Artificial Intelligence.
But outsourcing relationships to an algorithm or a bot may be cute for five seconds but what message does it send a customer about the actual experience? And, who will answer the questions and address the needs of customers? Who is actually listening and providing experiences?
And when the metrics measure efficiency, productivity and growth, the customer experience is often be left behind.
Real Life Customer Experiences
After trying to connect numerous times with a manager at a big brand company to discuss some needs, I finally managed to track her down. It was obvious from the interaction we had that she didn’t have time to talk to customers because her job was to manage the operations. You see, some of her critical staff didn’t show up to work for a few days and she was filling in.
Her internal issues were so huge, she didn’t even have the capacity to connect with customers. And no level of automation was replacing the human need to have her brand deliver on their promise of providing an excellent experience. [By the way, I learned about the internal challenges by talking to some of the front line employees that did show up to their jobs].
Her brand made a promise of customer excellence and set an expectation; at least the huge advertising campaign did.
And I can’t wait to get the email asking me for the review and the feedback, which most likely will be automated. The heartbreaking part is that the feedback is always asked at the end of this type of experience. Because none of this is relationship based. It’s just a structure that marketing and customer excellence sets up to track numbers with flawed metrics. It’s part of the equation when providing transactional services and not focusing on the actual experience.
And if this is the experience that customers are having, we have to wonder why employees are not showing up to work. Traditional work is dying and this is one of the biggest opportunities we are facing is shifting to providing experiences. Imagine if a slice of the marketing and advertising budget was invested in new ways of working.
People Matter: Human-to-Human Experiences
In many industries right now, it’s hard to attract people, especially in front line jobs. Walk into any hotel or restaurant and you will see the managers running around because they are under-staffed. A young woman recently shared that she walked into a local restaurant asking if they were hiring.
Rachel was hired on the spot without anyone asking her for her resume and she didn’t even know what job she was being considered for because they were so desperate for workers. She wanted to work at a place that cared about the well-being of its employees and customers.
But she is considering finding another job, even though she has been there a few months, because she is expected to do the work of three people. Rachel shared all this as her manager was busing tables and running around like his hair was on fire.
The Bottom Line?
Communication matters. The future is human. Pay attention to people in actions not words.
What if companies:
- Delivered on the promise by truly listening and transforming challenges into opportunities?
- Focused on building supportive and caring relationships?
- Demonstrated through actions that employee and customers well-being matters?
Instead of solving problems, unique opportunities can be discovered to create new markets, products, services, and, most importantly, purpose-driven experiences for people. More people-centered organizations will pop up when more of us realize that we are in the business of people.
And automation will be integrated to support the experience; not lead with it. Because the metrics will be tied to the experience and an ability to retain employees and customers. Relationships are at the heart of everything in our lives and focusing on what truly matters should be the business we are in.