John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Revolutionizing your industry
July 28, 2011, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Customer Experience, Customer Service, John DiJulius

Revolutionizing your industry – Listening to your customers is acceptable for driving incremental customer satisfaction, but it hardly generates breakthroughs. A better description for what great companies deliver is called an experience epiphany. That’s a vision of what the customer will want in the future.

Filling a gap customers didn’t know they had – Steve Jobs or Howard Schultz do not think conventionally, nor do they underestimate the power of an emotional experience that doesn’t always fit conveniently onto a spreadsheet or is initially understood by Wall Street. Both launched a revolution in their respective industries precisely because they had a bigger vision than their competitors. Their customers would enter stores to shop for products or buy a beverage and leave feeling inspired.

ILUV – Apple has become the world’s best retailer by thinking differently from most other retailers.
There are no cashiers at the Apple Store; there are specialists—even geniuses—but no cashiers. There are no salespeople; there are consultants, concierges, experts and personal shoppers—but no salespeople. Although the Apple stores have no commissioned sales staff, they generate more revenue per square foot than most other widely recognized brands. Apple’s famous glass cube store on New York’s Fifth Avenue reportedly generates higher sales per square foot than its neighbors, Saks and Tiffany’s. Significantly higher. Apple’s revenue has been pegged at $4,032 per square foot a year. Compare that with Tiffany’s at $2,600 or Best Buy at $930. After studying customer service champs outside of computer retail, they arrived at several criteria that would help the Apple stores stand apart:
• Design uncluttered stores
• Allow customers to test drive products
• Offer a concierge experience
• Make it easy to buy
• Offer one-to-one training
Transformational breakthroughs are rarely the result of focus groups. Customers didn’t ask for the iTunes store, but today they can’t live without it. Customers didn’t ask for the iPhone, but today millions of people can’t live without it. Apple has innovated around the retail experience by changing people’s expectations of what a retail experience could be.

Don’t ask your customers what they want, give them something they can’t live without – What if 30 years ago coffee consumers were asked what they would like in a coffee experience? Their answer would probably have been something like this: “A coffee experience? What experience? I just want my coffee with two options with or without sugar and with or without cream, for 50 cents.” Market research certainly wouldn’t have produced the experience of paying nearly 10x as much, being able to order, and get, it 1500 different ways, and being able to hang out for a half an hour, recharging, connecting with others, or surfing the web. Enter Starbucks. Be thankful Howard Schultz had a vision of what customers would want in the future rather than relying on them to tell him.

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