Let Gandhi Sell Your Onion Dosa

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground,”
~ Jerry Gregoire, CIO, Dell

During a recent trip to New York, Mr Harish Bhat, head of Tata Global Beverages, visits a few leading retail stores on the Fifth Avenue, a.k.a the “Mecca of shopping”.

From his shopping experience, he finds that it is shopping experiences that make the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Tiffany & Co, and Trump Tower a retail success.

“As I ended my walk down New York’s Fifth Avenue, I reflected on one big truth that was emerging from my day at these flagship stores,” he writes, “…all these stores excel at providing unique experiences to their customers. This appears to be a key factor behind the remarkable success of these stores.”

Bhat asks retailers elsewhere to follow suit by trying to offer unique experiences “centered on storytelling or sampling or even entertainment.”

Well, when it comes to building customer experience there seems to be four different aspects. They have something to do with the customer activities of 1) knowing, 2) doing, 3) having, and 4) being/belonging.

Just imagine that you are running a restaurant. Now, how can these four aspects, when put into action, make customer experience great. Here is what you can do:

Let customers know what they want: 
It may sound simple but not many brands do this. Today, customers want to know more…about our products, about us, and about how we make products.

Say your restaurant offers an ethnic food, find ways to tell the story of the history, geography, and science associated with the food. Make use of everything including your layout. Why not redesign it to have the kitchen at the centre so that customers can see how you cook their food.

Let customers do (create/co-create) products: 
We are creators of value and customers are buyers of value. Right? Wrong. Today, so much value is created at markets (not in factories) with the participation of customers.

Say you have a family who had come to taste onion dosa in your restaurant. Invite a family member to co-create dosa. Let them do things like sprinkling onion pieces on the dosa. The experience will be far better than sitting around, waiting for the food.

Let customers have something they can claim their own: 
Customers are not categories or segments but individuals. Innovate to one. Give them a highly personalized product. Your restaurant can offer food personalised to their own taste buds or health status. The customers will be more than willing to share whatever information you need for the food personalization.

Let customers belong to a community: 
Shopping is a social experience. It is important for a retail business to be the hangout of people of a particular attribute. Say yours is a pure vegetarian restaurant — and going to remain that way.

Change the vibe with Bernard Shaw’s quotes, sell or display few vegan bestselling books, offer a steep discount on Gandhi’s birthday. These are some of the things that create the impression in the market, that “here is where pure veggies dine”.

Take these four gerunds: knowing, doing, having, and being/belonging, and keep creating and trying new ideas. You may not be running a restaurant but developing software still, you are in the business of selling experiences.

Remember, in a seller’s market, customer experience is just a nicety but in a buyer’s market, it is a necessity.