Experience Wins Over Quality and Selection…Two Examples

This past week we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary…a wonderful time of the year. We always do something fun and memorable and we also have a family party. We have an awesome family and get together all the time…this weekend was no exception. During this anniversary week I am particularly aware of how we are treated by different people/establishments as they learn it is our anniversary (and because this is and area I help companies improve in for a living).

However, it’s also important to know that when I look for people and companies to do something “special” because it’s our anniversary, I’m not talking about them giving us things…simply to offer some type of “memorable” experience we can talk about for years to come. It isn’t about “the stuff” but about “how we are made to feel special” that captures my attention and what I share with others. The Experience is far more important than something we might get in the process…this is what makes it memorable.

There are a couple of examples I want to share that demonstrate the difference between product/service quality and experience.

The first one just happened…it is about Trophy Cupcakes. For our family party we ordered a dozen different cupcakes so our family could sample several varieties of their creations…always fun and a hit with everyone. The cupcakes were awesome and everyone loved the varieties…but that wasn’t the primary topic of conversation. The majority of time was spent talking about the experience we had in getting the cupcakes…which was memorable, but not good. Here’s what happened…

We ordered the cupcakes two days ahead of time and on their website and chose 11am as our time to pick them up…right after church. We got there around noon due to some delays, which should have ensured they would be boxed and ready for a quick pick up since they have already been paid for as well. My wife ran in to grab them while I waited in the car…and I waited and waited.

When she got there, they weren’t ready…hadn’t even started to box them up. OK, that wasn’t ideal but how long can it take to box up a dozen cupcakes? More than half an hour is how long. There were other people in the store they were serving at the same time and they didn’t have enough of some of the cupcakes everyone wanted so there were discussions about who could get what cupcakes. Well, among all the chaos going on in the store, it just kept getting longer and longer to get the cupcakes made up and then boxed. Cupcakes that were ordered 2 days earlier and set for a specific time to be picked up were still being prepared and then needed to be packaged. Why did we bother ordering them?

This was a great example of where the awesome quality of the product didn’t overshadow a lousy experience. While everyone loved the product, the conversation was about how crazy the experience was to get 12 cupcakes in a box. This was what became memorable…and what was being talked about. A big reason this gets talked about today is TIME. It is the most valuable commodity we all have and when someone misuses it, we aren’t happy…and it eclipses product/service. It is one of the most critical components of the customer experience today.

Right now you might be saying, “But the cupcakes were awesome (which they were) and this should win over the customer.” It doesn’t…never does in my experience. How you are treated and made to feel is what becomes memorable and what gets talked about…because it’s personal. It becomes about you at this point and so it overshadows product. And in our particular case, do you think for one moment Trophy Cupcakes is the only place that has awesome cupcakes? There are many places that serve really fun and incredible cupcakes…this high quality product is the “expected” today…a baseline from which to grow from.

What people look for (since products are really great today) is how they are treated…how you make them feel…how personal is the experience…did they feel like you cared and you were important to them…these are the components that customers are looking for today…not just great products. Trophy cupcakes failed in this area for us…great product…not so great of an experience.

Another quick example is of a very well-known company, McDonald’s, and how they missed the mark. In a recent article in Business Insider, they talked about how the franchisees are telling McDonald’s corporate that it never was about offering more selection and products…it is about the experience. One of the reasons for posting lower second quarter results is how they tried to keep up with other fast food companies and offer a broader menu. It didn’t work.

What I believe they failed to see were two things. First, it wasn’t about adding more products. It is and always has been about the “consistent and reliable” experience people get when they go to McDonald’s. It never has been about the food…it’s been about the service…fast, convenient, and consistent. And they offer things to keep the kids busy while mom and dad can grab some very average food. That’s the premise Ray Kroc had when he created the company many years ago.

Second, McDonald’s wasn’t paying close attention to the “personas” of their ideal customers. Did their core customer audience tell them they would be much happier, more loyal, and an advocate for McDonald’s if they offered more products? I don’t think so…I think this was purely a reaction to the competition and feeling the need to add more products to keep up with them. Rather than pay attention to their competition, they should have capitalized on their solid customer base and given them an even better experience and stuck to the primary products their audience wants. This is where they excel and can lead.

Even big companies can lose their way…and it shows quickly in their financial returns. Smaller companies can become obsolete in that same period of time and be gone. This isn’t uncommon today…but it can prevented. It not only can it be prevented, but companies can capitalize on it and excel ahead of their competitors.

Focusing on “your game” of what makes you unique…what your customers would love to experience when they interact with you…and creating new ways to make them feel incredibly awesome is a stronger path to success than either great products or more products. It isn’t about the products/services today…it’s how the customer feels before, during, and after any interaction with your company. Focus on this and you won’t have to worry about what new products/services your competitors add…your customers will love buying the ones you offer. And they will reward you with their LOYALTY and their WORD-OF-MOUTH…which leads to a more successful business well into the future.

Thanks for reading…If you found this helpful, please hit the ‘heart’ and ‘share’ buttons below. It not only means a lot to me but it helps other people see the story. And if this resonated with you, please visit my WOM10 site and read more posts like this one…have an awesome day!