“When you serve customers who can buy anything they want,” says Ignaz Gorischek, “Giving them an experience they can’t buy anywhere else is essential.”
Until recently, Gorischek was VP of Planning and Presentation at Neiman Marcus, and was quoted in Steve McKee’s excellent book, When Growth Stalls.
Give these words a minute to bounce around the inside of your head. Too often, experience is something used generically, as in “what’s the customer experience ordering from us?”
That is not what Ignaz is talking about.
He’s talking about experience as a differentiator important enough to make a customer buy from you instead of someone else. At Neiman Marcus, Gorischek created interactive holiday window displays in Dallas that delighted customers. He “broke” the barrier between window displays and customers, by creating an 85-foot long tunnel that kids could use to move through the window displays.
Here’s how he describes this creation…
“I wanted to come up with something where you could somehow penetrate that glass without breaking it literally, and I finally came up with the idea of using the crawl tubes to take children on a journey through the windows. The parents get to follow along, on the sidewalk, and, with video cameras in the tubes, watch their children take the journey. It’s the first such attempt that I know of where windows have literally been opened up during the holiday season for kids to go through.”
In his mind, this sort of innovation doesn’t require much more than focused attention. Ignaz says, “Ideas come from everywhere. In the creative process, oftentimes what you have to do is look for creative ways to bring the parts together. It’s like a recipe. You take different ingredients, and, depending on how you put them together, you come out with a different product. All I did was put together these different ingredients and came out with this product, which I think is a rather innovative result.”
So here’s the question: how can you elevate the customer experience to this level?
Don’t give us a quick answer. Any decent answer will take time and effort to formulate. But if you start asking questions like this – and if you commit to finding great answers – then you are on the path to unlocking sustainable growth for years to come.
Digital technologies – smartphones, the web, and the like – are pushing all companies towards commoditization. In other words, your margins are probably under pressure, because ordering and price checking has become so fast and simple. So you can compete on price, which is a losing battle, or you can find another leg to stand on.
Try elevating customer experience. Turn it into something significant enough that it’s worth money to your customers. Give them an experience they can’t get anywhere else.
Because if a customer…
1. Values an experience, and
2. Can’t get it anywhere else…
…then you can’t be forced into a price competition.