What You’re Really Selling, The Customer Experience

Over the past few months we’ve made some interesting observations here at the Consultant’s Corner.  In our first column, The Five Pillars of Growth we discussed the dismal statistics business owners face if they wish to survive and make their businesses thrive.  We also introduced the Five Pillars of Business Growth: 1) The Customers Experience, 2) Make a Profit, 3) Own a Business – not a job, 4) Manage Systems, Lead People, and 5) Make Time for the Business of Business.  In the next two columns, “Owner Time Choices” and “Investing Time - Three Steps to Growth” we discussed the most valuable tool on the owner’s workbench: time and the choices made for its use.

Now we are ready to begin the next leg of our business-growth journey – The Customer Experience.  If you’re like most business owners, you probably believe your customers purchase the product or service you provide.  Although this is true, it glosses over a far more important fact.  Customers have many options available when it comes to fixing the problem your product or service solves (all products and services fix a problem).  For instance, customers faced with a problem could do nothing and simply live with it.  Or they could address the problem themselves.  If and when they finally seek outside help, they have even more options because there are many businesses that sell the exact same product or service as you.  So, what is the “tipping point” that causes customers to call YOUR office or grace YOUR store with their presence?  It is called The Customer Experience - the First Pillar of Business Growth

The First Pillar of Business Growth states:  CUSTOMERS DO NOT BUY YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE. THEY BUY THE EXPERIENCE OF PURCHASING THAT PRODUCT OR SERVICE FROM YOUR BUSINESS.

What is the Customer Experience? 
The Customer Experience is the central pillar of the Five Pillars of Business Growth.  It is the central theme, the core tenant of a philosophy which alone can completely change the direction of your business.  Your customers do not buy the product or service your business sells.  They buy the experience of purchasing that product or service from you and your business. 

To illustrate, let’s take an imaginary stroll down Main Street USA.  The street is perfect Americana - paved, side-walked & maple-lined.  Shoppers are milling about - walking, talking, and peering in windows - each in need of the products the stores offer.  There is, however, one oddity to this nostalgic paradise.  Instead of a butcher, barber, grocery, and pharmacy, all the shops in this small town sell the exact same product or service – the same as your business - and all for about the same price. 

Do you manage a bank?  Well, so does every other business person on Main Street.  Own an auto repair shop?  Your Main Street has at least 12 others who do the exact same thing.  Maybe physician, realtor, electrician, plumber, journalist, painter, or accountant.  If so, you’re in good company.  Every other owner is in the exact same business!

So, here’s the question:  Why should shoppers buy from your business and not someone else’s?  The fact that each business sells your product or service removes your product or service from the sales-equation.  Your inability to compete on price (which is generally a horrible idea anyway) means you can’t have a fire sale to steal business from others. 

This imaginary Main Street paints a precise frame of the reality in which your business exists, the importance of which demands repeating.  Your customers have many options when it comes to purchasing your product or service.  Ultimately, what they buy from your business is NOT the product or service you sell.  They buy the EXPERIENCE of buying that product or service from your business.  In other words, they buy the tangible and, more importantly, the intangible value your business adds to their lives when they purchase YOUR service or product.

Do you want customers to call your phone or grace your store with their presence?  Then focus your limited time on adding value to each and every customer’s experience.

The Customer Experience is the First Pillar of Business Success.  For most, understanding and applying this core principal requires a change in the way you think about your business.  In our next Consultant’s Corner we will take you through steps that will help you create positive and lasting Customer’s Experience.

Brett Hersh's avatar
  • Author: Brett Hersh
  • Bio: Brett Hersh, EA, MBA, is the owner of HBS TAX & Small Business Experts. He is an Enrolled Agent (EA) with the IRS and licensed by the US Treasury Department to prepare all tax returns and represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections and appeals. He is also Dave Ramsey’s ELP for Tax and Accounting, a continuing education instructor for tax professionals through Lorman Education, and a local speaker/presenter on the topics of tax and business growth. He can be reached at (304) 267-2594.