The Cool Factor: How to Create Lasting Customer Experiences, Not Just Products

A business that provides an experience to its clients, not just products and solutions, is more likely to develop a lasting and trusting relationship with them.

George Tucker

If the reports from social anthropologists and business journals are to be taken seriously, clients, especially young clients, are retreating from pure possessions. What matters most and carries the most cachet are experiences. 

In this new paradigm, having a collection of stamps in one’s passport is both treasured and evokes admiration from others. The sharing generates conversations about the new ideas found, and about the contrast from what was known prior.

Within this comes a new understanding and a mashup of ideas are found. From these experiences, better models of social interaction, communication and business are created. 

Compansion

The world of integration is both expanding and contracting in ways that our most visionary sooth-sayers could not have fully imagined. There have been changes of near big bang growth such as the transition to all things IT, and the consolidations of single eco-system product lines. 

Products and solutions can be found almost anywhere—at the local box store, on the Internet and via startup funding pages. In part, we have to, for the time being, admit to losing this segment of the market. The quasi DIY crowd will have some success as a considerable demographic finds the experience they desire, that of having complete ownership—for good or ill.

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What about the bigger project, the whole floor or even whole building installations which go beyond simple one-off implementations? What is the experience between client, integrator and supplier? Is it one of supplier handing off to an installer a list of product SKUs and moving onto the next sale of product, or can we do more?

How often do we feel that our supplier is a partner in the project, one who understands the convolutions and complications that make up an install? What can the supply side of the industry do to make this less irksome? Several discussions at Integrated Systems Europe highlight the new focus on the experiential business. 

Managing the Milestones

What does it take to become a business that provides an experience as well as gear to make it happen? In the case of Milestone AV, it is a two-year complete reexamination of the entire process from design, to implementation, to service contracts.

Robert Jong talked passionately about how the company looked deep to find ways to increase their outreach and collaboration with dealers and installers. Combining more than just the brands, the result is tools and people to help with design, pricing structures and even supply chain scheduling.

Simple but essential things like ensuring product arrives as needed and not weeks early, or ensuring manuals and instructions are provided in the regional language go a long way. By providing tools and logistical support that simplifies, shortens and shores up an installation, Milestone AV changes the relationship for the better.

To Jupiter and Beyond

InFocus has purchased a number of lines to the company in the past year or so. The acquisitions include: Jupiter Systems, a maker of collaborative visualization solutions; AVISTAR, the folks who make software codec conferencing for mobile and tablet systems; and VIDCO, a high-level multimedia solutions integrator. These are three companies with obvious relational connections to each other and the existing InFocus offerings.

While the individual products are one experience, the end solution installed to resolve a client need is another. InFocus CEO Mark Housley first looks at the people who are involved with each.  Housley stated, “I don’t buy companies, I buy teams.” 

The process of bringing in disparate personalities and corporate cultures into a new parent company can be a daunting task. In many cases, the trials and tribulations of combining the teams results in a temporary decline in sales, something that did not happen in these cases.

Focusing on people over products provided stability and created a smooth transition to allow growth and reach without disrupting the existing client base and supply chain. 

A Story at the Core

The folks at Core Brands do not see their product offerings as just a collection fitting into segmented market niches, there is more to it than that. 

For Bill Hensley, Core Brands’ experience is a story of how the associated gear can heighten and enlighten the user’s interactions. The theme is not necessarily about the cool factor, although that comes into play, rather it is the lifestyle improvement over tech geekery.

Our homes and environments represent elements of our personality, the story we want to tell others about us. How we fill this space should be more than just gack, it should enhance the moment. 

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The attraction is in the acknowledgement that solutions may satisfy, but if it does not add to an enhanced experience, the luster is lost.

Millennial Motivator

The concept of being experiential is not new, but its place as a core motivator is. While Millennials may find attraction in the newest hip toy, if it does not provide more, it will soon be forgotten.