The Grand Bazaar, or Al-Madina Souk is one of the oldest and most difficult to navigate marketplaces in the world. It is also one of the most fascinating! Narrow alleys, 4500 or more shops, 2,500 or more interconnected rooms, a mosque, 19 fountains, several squares, 18 gates, shopkeepers, street sellers of different services, con-artists, and anything between 250,000 to 400,000 visitors, every single day! It goes without saying that very few visitors come here to buy anything in particular. Why then, do 91,250,000 odd tourists flock here every year?
Well, they come here for the Experience.
Since the beginning of time, experience has always been the deal clincher. Humans and all other creatures with sensory perceptions are pretty much dictated by their experiences. Whether it be an experience with an aspect of life, a phenomenon of nature, a product, a service or a person, experience has always determined outcomes. Over the years, we’ve clothed experience in different garbs and peered at it through different lenses. We’ve given it different labels – brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand recall and what not.
The fact is, without a great experience, there will be no brand – the Ford GT wouldn’t have been one of the only cars in the world to appreciate in value – in the past decade- if it hadn’t been for ‘the overall Ford experience’.
Experience as a 21st century market reality
The way curators of great experiences see it, the basic human connect with an experience par excellence, is not new. It is an old war, fought in a new battlefield, with new age ammunition. While the 21st century market environment is much like the Al-Madina Souk, customers here include Flower Children, Baby Boomers, GenX, Millennials, the iGen, etc. These customers believe that they have earned their sense of entitlement. They are connected, quick to form opinions, quick to make decisions and slow to forgive.
If they buy into the experience you have on offer and they continue to enjoy being with you, they are going to do business with you and recommend you to the others.
But if you fail to provide a positive customer experience… what happens? Simple. Customers will be frustrated. And, unforgiving.
Surveys suggest that if customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people that they are unhappy. 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. 67% of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for unhappiness, and only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain.
The rest, they just leave. Moot point – if you want customers, you must invest in their experience. In fact, a Gartner study predicts that by 2018, more than 50% of organisations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.
The first step towards ensuring a great customer experience is understanding your customer. For this, you must create a complete customer profile that will help you understand and measure your customers’ behaviour at every touch point, across multiple channels. Once you know your customers well enough, you can use that knowledge to personalise every interaction and create an emotional connect, as well as a rational one.
Gartner also finds that companies which implement customer experience projects focus on different ways to collect and analyse customer feedback. With customers today having more power and more options than ever before, you, as the custodian of great experiences, are responsible for understanding and acknowledging and nurturing customer needs.
Today’s market is fuelled by technology. The close bond between customer experience and technology is one of the key realities of this digitally connected space, where you are just one click away from your heart’s desire.
Here are a few written in stone facts that could determine whether you navigate this market, or get lost forever.
- You will need to know your customer’s every thought and behaviour.
- Technology will be the strategic asset that will enable a fluid engagement between people, processes and products.
- Technology cannot be ‘a’ department in your company. It must be the fuel of every department.
- Experience will drive engagement and determine loyalty.
- Your vision must be to deliver a complete and positive customer experience.
- The importance of multi-channel service will only increase.
- Multiple experiences through a single device will win the race for space.
- Great experiences must be delivered across devices and geared to lean towards hand-held, anytime, anywhere devices.
Let’s face it folks, to put up a good fight, we need to create an out-of-this-world experience that weaves in the whole gamut – magic, mystique, comfort, choices, technology, style, excitement and simplicity – much like the Grand Bazaar!