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What advisers are saying: Customers will pay for the right experience

Phil_Wickenden_pink_2014

The twizzle moustachioed, monocle sporting, mac obsessed folk of Shoreditch seem to be embracing the spirit of the RDR – zut ‘alor, talk about last season chaps!

At Ziferblat, the UK’s first ever pay-as-you-go café, everything is free (food, coffee and Wi-Fi); except for the time you spend there. You see where I’m going with this?

There has been a lot made of the fact that in a post-RDR world the product (per se) is no-longer the product; the service is.

What is really interesting at Ziferblat though, to return briefly to our hipster allegory, is that it turns out customers also make their own drinks there and wash up crockery, amid mis-matched furniture and the sound of Simon and Garfunkel records wafting out of the window onto Shoreditch High Street. So they are not even paying for service as such. Yet it’s popular. Very.

Ivan Meetin, the owner commented “there are customers who have been back 10 times already and they bring their friends with them.” Which begs the question, what are they paying for? The answer, it seems, is ‘experience.’ People are not paying for consumption; they are paying for participation in something.

One customer said, “I like that the emphasis is less on transactional value. It’s not about the coffee I’m buying and more about the place that I’m drinking it in.” Which rather gets right to the heart of where the true value lies.

There is a significant, but often overlooked, difference between customer service and customer experience. If a customer has to call customer service, then something has gone wrong with their experience.

Meaningful, memorable, fun, unusual and unexpected experiences influence the way customers perceive you in general and feel about you in particular. These little details are so easy to overlook, and tempting to dismiss as unimportant. But add a number of seemingly minor details together, and you end up with something of far more value than you would without them.

It is the little details that keep a customer coming back over and over, it is the little details that cause a customer to rationalise paying more because they feel they are getting more and it is the little details that keep people talking about you and recommending you to everyone they know.

Anyone can do the big things right. It is the little things (and how they are weaved together to create a unique experience) that differentiate one business from another and that influence customers to choose you over someone else.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So Here’s The Plan phil@soherestheplan.co.uk

Adviser quotes-23Jan14

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