Ask an entrepreneur what they sell, and you are likely to get a response with a product or service: “We sell home décor…” “…comprehensive, quality healthcare” “…heating and cooling systems.” Unfortunately, that’s not what customers want, and it’s not what makes them happy.
So you are probably thinking, Well then, I’m screwed. Because that’s what I sell.” Not true. Your product or service is merely the vehicle that facilitates a relationship between you and a customer. Products are what people get in a transaction. And simple transactions do not make people happy. Today, to make customers happy, you have to sell the experience.
Research findings indicate that spending money on experiences rather than on material things makes people happy. See this article from the New York Times: Will It Make You Happy?
“One major finding is that spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.”
It’s not an actual thing that makes people happy, it’s the experience they get from that thing. Because the experience is what creates memories, and pleasant memories make us happy.
“One reason that paying for experiences gives us longer-lasting happiness is that we can reminisce about them”
So that’s the big challenge to you, the entrepreneur: how to turn that thing you sell into an experience. While you may have a lingerie store, you are really in the memory creation business. Every local business should be in the memory creation business.
“I think people are realizing they don’t need what they had. They’re more interested in creating memories.”
Your thinking has to change. People want happiness. How can you help customers reap the most happiness for their dollar? It starts with customer experience design. Stepping back from the transaction and thinking from the customer’s shoes as she buys from you. Walk through her experience and see where you might be able to insert “Magic Spots”(memorable moments). But then, take it one additional step. Extend the experience beyond your store.
“Among those strategies are proffering merchandise that makes being at home more entertaining…”
Can you extend the purchase into the customer’s home? Your (potential) influence with the customer is not limited to your direct interaction with them. Look for ways to help customer happiness after they have purchased from you.
“Retailers are going to have to work very hard to create that emotional feeling again. And it can’t just be ‘Here’s another thing to buy.’ It has to have a real sense of experience to it.”
It’s a paradigm shift to be sure: switching your thinking from products and services to emotions and memories. But the reward will be customer happiness. And happy customers are loyal customers.
How can you make customers happy?