In the past most sales were actually interactions. We had to go to a business, or ring and place an order. This provided a great opportunity for what could easily just be a soul less transaction to become a moment of interaction, which meant the customer could develop more of a relationship and connection with a business. And this in turn meant that the business had the opportunity to build a loyal customer base.
Now let's be honest, that's not the way it always worked out. Lousy service has existed for a long time, but today, there can be more space between the customer and the business, which in some ways makes it harder to create any emotional connection and easier for poor service to creep in.
I read recently that if you want people to be nicer when they come to a business put a mirror behind the cash register, because no one wants to look at themselves being a jerk when they are being jerk. My question here is who is putting the mirror in front of the person doing the serving? And worse still, the more space we have between the business and the customer the easier it is for any purchase to be a transaction as opposed to an engaging interaction.
So what's my point here? My point is that we live in a transactional world, where people are craving interaction. This creates a wonderful opportunity for any business that makes a conscious decision to be less transactional and more experiential to outshine their competitors
I have no doubt at all that in the coming years more emphasis will be placed on differentiating what you do by making any and every customer interaction a memorable experiential encounter. This will require some serious cultural shifts. And it needs to work online, with packages that are delivered (Mac started this concept years back) and of course face-to-face.
Smart businesses have realized that this is where customers will be won or lost in the future. Those businesses that can offer the best experiences in a transaction are already developing the most loyal of followings, as long as the business can keep it up. You can't be awesome once and then take your customers for granted for the next twenty interactions, they will simply find another business that meets their need for a quality experience.
My best advice is that every single business needs to be continuously coming up with new ways to engage their customers by creating better experiences. This means looking at all interactions as opportunities to engage not simply transactions for the exchange of goods or services for money.