We are in the next phase of consumer demand called the experience economy, according to authors B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore.
Experiences will not replace goods and services, of course. Experiences make goods and services stand out in a crowded field. People are the key.
When you tell a friend how great (or awful) a recent experience felt to you, it is usually because of people.
Assuming basic quality and safety standards are met, how the product or service is delivered usually means more than what is delivered. Sure, the view, the food or the products matter. The wow (or boo) comes from people.
My family has a favorite country diner in the mountains that serves the best omelets on the planet. Honestly, the omelets are great because of Pam. We never met someone who loves her job as much.
Pam arrives by 4:45 a.m. then makes the iced tea, coffee and ranch dressing. She greets you across the room like an old friend. “Call me by my nickname,” she says. She bubbles over with authentic pride in her product, using self-awareness and humor.
Eating in this marginally maintained and poorly lit place is a great experience because of Pam. To hear her carry on about how she double-brews the iced tea, why the weekend seafood special is the best anywhere, how the pancakes vary in size “depending on whether the cook is ‘P.O.’d’ or not,” makes breakfast so much more than a service or a product. She is why we look for reasons to visit. She is why we introduce friends and family to this very modest country place. She is why the parking lot is full by 8 o’clock each Saturday morning.
Meaningful experiences are about connections with people. The right leadership with the right employees in the right roles in the right frame of mind creates magic. Call it the “Four Rights.” It has never been more important to think beyond baseline quality and about how to create exceptional experiences through people.
I just toured the Biltmore House as part of a business conference. Twenty-eight of us split into two groups, one following well behind the other. My guide was nice, adequately informed and charmingly forgetful. The other group’s guide behaved like the proud son of a real Vanderbilt heir, overflowing with personal and insightful information. My group left satisfied. The other group left wowed and acting as vocal ambassadors of their experience.
The old saying goes “nothing worthwhile is easy.” Bringing the Four Rights to your workplace is no exception. It requires tough decisions, high standards and clear vision. With the Four Rights in place, everyone’s pride, engagement and impact rise. Good people want to impact others. Good managers want to focus on growth (not just problems). Good employers want the profits that flow from way-more-than-satisfied buyers made to feel great.
Most people want to deliver exceptional experiences to others. Take a look at the self-limiting beliefs and behaviors keeping your workplace from delivering them to each other and to customers.
Bruce Clarke, J.D., is CEO of CAI, helping more than 1,000 North Carolina employers maximize employee engagement and minimize employer liability. For more information, visit www.capital.org.