The Experience Economy

Life is all about experiences. Public Relations is moving towards being Experience Management. The world is rapidly changing with digital experiences. There is a high amount of innovation leading to disruption. In all this, a data explosion is taking place. The consumer is getting more and more connected and the expectations are being raised. The experience era has evolved.

Experiences start with great content. These experiences are powered with data. Experience is the new brand. Customer journey is the new product. Experiences create value. Good experiences are consistent and continuous and good experiences build reputation. It all boils down to the last experience that a customer has had which can make or break a brand.

In the last month I had three experiences with three brands that I will not forget for a long time. The first was with Oyo rooms. I happened to be in Bangalore for the funeral of an uncle and had organised few Oyo rooms for family members who were travelling from outside. One of the rooms was infested with cockroaches that were coming from every nook and corner. The only option to survive was to walk out in the middle of the night and check into a pricey hotel next door. Oyo would not have bothered if not for a tweet sent to them with images and additionally tagging the founder. Action was swift. In less than a few minutes there was a call from customer care. In less than a couple of days the amount spent on the other hotel was credited into my account. I’m trying Oyo rooms again next week.

I visit Starbucks almost ten times a week. My office is located in a building that houses a café and I though not being a beverage person visit the outlet on an average twice a day for a quick bite or for a meeting. The brand has created Funventures were customers play some quick games with the staff who are referred to as Partners. In a matter of few minutes one can win a gift card worth Rs 300/- While the amount is not huge the experience one goes through with the partners creates an all-round feeling of warmth which is an experience to cherish in itself.

The third brand experience I’m writing about is Flipkart. I purchased a basic printer on this online portal and they messed up the delivery. I escalated the issue to the Chairman and the matter was poorly handled. I have never gone back to the e-commerce site ever since and end up spending time and money on its American cousin.

The examples above clearly bring to the fore the Power of Experiences. A bad experience can leave an unhappy feeling. A bad experience handled well can get the customer to give the brand a second chance. Experiences that are continuous and consistent leave a good sentiment overall.

At the end of the day an offer of experience is nothing but Public Relations. And public relations done well builds a stronger reputation. Service and product companies both end up offering experiences that leave impressions. The Public Relations team should go beyond its remit to make healthy interventions and creating and enhancing experiences of the stakeholder. Because Reputation Today can be gone tomorrow.

In an Experience Economy the customer is not just king, but God. And as Sam Walton put it “He or she can fire everyone in the company from the Chairman down by simply spending the money elsewhere”.

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Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Founding Dean of the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe).

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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