Customer experience: Way beyond customer satisfaction
Apple computers announced their second quarter results on April 19, 2006. During this Q2 Apple’s revenue grew 34% YoY and 41% increase in earnings. The interesting point is Apple has sold 85,2600o iPods in Q2 alone. My mind started thinking ‘How on earth any company can sell so many music players in a single quarter given the fact that iPods are costlier than other digital music players? What makes iPod so unique?’ Now cut to Bangalore, India and walk into MTR restaurant near Lal Bagh. Every customer need to stand in a huge queue or book an appointment to get into the restaurant because it is very crowded. Most people who walk into MTR order for ‘Rava Idli’ (A spicy south-Indian breakfast item).But the same Rava Idli is available in every other restaurant in Bangalore with cheaper price and similar quality. Now my mind is again thinking ‘Why on earth people stand in queue and eat the MTR Rava Idli and ready to pay more?’
Even though examples given above belongs to totally two different industries and happening at two opposite corners of the world there are two startling similarities. First the traditional ‘Low-cost-high-quality’ mantra for products and services is changing. Second customers are willing to pay more as long as the product or service offered is providing them a ‘Unique experience’. The iPod and the MTR Rava Idli are able to provide this unique ‘Customer experience’ because of which they are able to constantly attract and retain their customers.
This word ‘Customer experience’ is similar to the ‘Peak experience’ term coined by American psychologist and philosopher Abraham H. Maslow (1908-1970). This term is used to describe nonreligious quasi-mystical and mystical experiences. Peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being. Accompanying these experiences is a heightened sense of control over the body and emotions, and a wider sense of awareness, as though one was standing upon a mountaintop. Put in simple terms any product or service that is offered by corporations should get under the ‘Skin-of-the-customer’. This is making corporations to constantly re-invent themselves for providing the best of customer experience. Now that the plane of competition is changed, the future looks even more interesting :)