Expanding the Customer Experience in Time (Part II)


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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.

Remembering past experiences produces brain activity similar to what transpired during the actual experiences.19 This gives companies a tremendous way to expand the experiential envelope—help customers relive the experiences. Not only does reminiscence rekindle desire, it increases the likelihood that they will evangelize the experiences to others.
Backroads Trips of Berkeley, California, organizes exotic outings worldwide for its customers. The company’s standard practice was to send an annual catalog describing the coming year’s adventures to their 100,000 previous customers. A few years ago, Backroads Trips decided to leverage the great experiences customers had on their previous trips. To test the power of reminiscence they sent 10,000 personalized postcards to customers. On the front of each one was a beautiful and memorable scene from that person’s previous trip with Backroads. For example, if Jim went to the Canadian Rockies last year, the scene might have been looking across Lake Louise from the boat dock. The accompanying statement was, “Jim, your trip to the Canadian Rockies was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” On the back of the card was the question, “Why not make it twice?” Written just above was a description and picture of an upcoming trip. Jim was encouraged to go to www.backroads.com/Jim.Smith to gather additional information.
The scenes on the fronts of the cards helped trigger memories from the customers’ previous trips and motivated them to “make it twice.” Sales to those who received the personalized postcards were nearly four times that of those who received only the catalogs.

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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