Expanding the Customer Experience in Time (Part I)


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Companies seem to be motivated to focus on the customer experience for two primary reasons. One, to make it easier and pleasant for the customer to buy their product. Two, to increase the likelihood that they will become committed, repeat buyers. All too often the actions they take to enhance the customer experience contribute to the first reason which might influence the present purchase but does not necessarily reliably influence the second.

Why is that? Once the purchase experience is over, what’s left? What is the residual that predisposes the customer to repeat the purchase? Remembrance of price and convenience are nice but subject to being outmatched by a competitor. Then there is the actual experience itself. The key here is that what persists over time is the emotional or psychological consequence to the experience, not the experience per se. To take it one step further, what one hopes persists and actually increases, is desire.

The following is an excerpt from my new book, Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company that lays out one way to increase desire without focusing on the actual purchase process, rather focusing on expanding the emotional experience.

Anticipation. Desire is what goes on inside a passionate customer’s head—it is the imagination of what it would be like to have the object of desire, to experience it. To satisfy desires is to experience emotional fulfillment, and it leads to an end-in-itself, an intrinsic reward. Anticipation is looking forward to the fulfillment of a desire and is an active mental process that can be stimulated by external events. Anticipation typically builds as the fulfilling experience approaches. Like the actual experience, anticipation leads to emotional involvement and is pleasurable.

Pebble Beach golfers consider Pebble Beach golf links in Monterey, California, to be right up there with playing Saint Andrews in Scotland. For most golfers, playing there is planned well in advance, and for many, it is considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To increase anticipation and enhance the actual golf experience, Pebble Beach offers golfers the opportunity to take a virtual tour of the course on its Web site. Champion golfer and golf commentator Johnny Miller helps the golfer develop a hole-by-hole strategy well in advance of the actual date. Anticipation, mental involvement, and the building of desire are all in play here. Regardless of how the actual round of golf turns out, those who played the simulated rounds beforehand are engaged and even begin planning for their next trip to Pebble Beach—in spite of the $380 greens fees. You can imagine how customers become very vocal advocates for Pebble Beach, telling all their golfing buddies about both their Web site experience and the actual round of golf.

John Todor
John I. Todor, Ph.D. is the Managing Partner of the MindShift Innovation, a firm that helps executives confront the volatility and complexity of the marketplace. We engage executives in a process that tackles two critical challenges: envisioning new possibilities for creating and delivering value to customers and, fostering employee engagement in the innovation and alignment of business practices to deliver on the new possibilities. Follow me on Twitter @johntodor


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