Is Selling a Product or Service More Effective than Selling an Experience?
With the advent of the Internet, and especially social media, the difference between marketing a product or service to customers versus creating an experience can be a long-term challenge for business owners.
Defining Customer Experience Versus Product/Service Focus
When focusing on the product or service alone, it can often encapsulate a single touchpoint where a customer learns about the product or service through a sales call or product advertisement.
In contrast, through near-instantaneous interactions, the Internet and social media allow the customers' voices to be heard. Coupled with traditional touchpoints or ways the business interacts with customers, businesses have the ability to create an experience around their product or service for each customer. This is accomplished by listening to their customers to understand their desires and goals with a product or service.
Using Social Media to Create a Positive Customer Experience
Being proactive on social media by monitoring and reaching out to customers who use a product or service can resonate well. A simple thank-you note sent via social media or a one-time discount toward a future order can make customers feel valued because the company recognized their patronage. Other examples include having polls incorporated into social media platforms to demonstrate that customers’ opinions are considered for current and future product and services.
Social media is effective in customers' eyes because it demonstrates a business' commitment to customer questions and complaints. Developing a dedicated team for answering questions and complaints, along with responding to and keeping users attune to their issue's status can establish trust. Other considerations include how complaints are addressed. For example, when are refunds or replacements given? When user issues cannot be immediately addressed, establishing and informing consumers of time-frames and what channels of communication will be used (phone, email, etc.) is another example of creating a complete experience.
Engaging Customers at Every Stage
To complement a social media strategy, creating a targeted and timed strategy is another way to produce a positive customer experience. Initial steps can include online seminars describing common challenges faced by small businesses owners and how the product or service will help solve the problem. Other touchpoints that follow can include giving interested customers one or two chapters to preview the full product or giving case studies to prospective clients to show how the program helped other customers solve similar problems.
Once a purchase is made, support can be offered to purchasers and can be modified depending on the exact product. Support options might take the form of a 60-day course evaluation and in-person consulting opportunities to complement a self-guided course. Additional follow-ups can include coupons or opportunities for customers to attend peer-to-peer meetings where the product’s principles can be reinforced and commonly faced issues can be discussed with like-minded professionals.
While emphasizing the benefits of a product or service are still essential, the information age allows for a greater opportunity to deliver a complete experience for consumers, not just isolated points of contact with a company.