Banking on the Experience Economy

Banking on the Experience Economy

Elevating the Value

Let’s face reality; banking is a service business. Banks provide customers with financial services and charge for doing what their customers cannot do for themselves. In today’s market, banking is faced with a wide and expanding range of competition that is forcing price to become the primary defining factor at best. Unfortunately, fighting on price creates no greater value for the business, only volume with decreased margins. If there is no real difference in the eyes of the customer, there is no loyalty. Moreover, the idea of great customer service is not a differentiator, it is what is expected.

In the Experience Economy, it is much more than efficiency or performance ratings of service delivery, it is about a personal customized offering to the individual and staging memorable engagements. It is a shift from doing for a customer to doing with a customer. This is a deliberate strategic change from ‘time well saved’ in the service economy to ‘time well spent’ in the experience economy. Moreover, that time well spent being engaged, should come at a premium price.

The question before us is this; can a service economy industry like banking be elevated to that of an experience stager? We believe the answer is a definitive yes given the desire for change exists.

 

 

Staging Experiences with Bank Customers

In the book “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, the phrase “Work is theatre and every business a stage” is used to frame up the key idea that staff have roles to perform and that the environment becomes a stage for the performance. To achieve this idea, banks need to refocus away from merely delivering efficient service to staging engaging experiences with their customers. The environment must be aligned with the brand promise and support the bank’s culture. Banks need to avoid rehashing older delivery models or duplicating another bank’s design to create activity. The physical and digital place must be a manifestation of the bank’s brand and purpose.

 

Transforming the Culture

The hurdle for banking in the Experience Economy is that it requires an honest assessment of the culture across the whole of the organization. The evolution to an experience begins always with the strength of the people. No brand statement or great environment design can create a memorable engagement without the efforts and intention of the staff. This must happen at all levels and all channels of customer interaction. The more staff is engaged with the customer, the more memorable the experience.

 

3S Model: Satisfaction, Sacrifice and Surprise

One method to begin the journey to becoming an experience is applying the practice of the 3S model: Satisfaction, Sacrifice and Surprise.

  • Satisfaction: First, begin by finding ways to improve satisfaction for the customer. Find out what they like about the current interaction with the bank and expand those ideas. Improve on what is already being done and eliminate the customer’s dislike.
  • Sacrifice: Next, identify customer sacrifices and barriers between what the customer wants and what they must accept because of limitations, efficiencies or selection. Begin removing these sacrifices to enhance the interactions with the customer. Remember, it’s about what the customer really wants and not about being limited to selecting from a menu of what is only offered. One major method to removing sacrifice is by leveraging digital channels. As more and more functions and processes of banking become digital, the more customizable they become. The more customizable an experience/event can be, the more personalized it becomes and eventually, the more customer sacrifice is removed. Being digital means being customizable.
  • Surprise: Finally, add in a surprise during the interaction. Surprises can be random or planned. Take the idea of opening an account. Imagine allowing the customer to create their own unique banking package that fits their needs. Then, because options can be digital, this particular blend of service and features gets named after them and becomes a pre-designed package offering that others can choose. It also creates conversation for the customer with their connections and an experience they are willing to share.

For banking to evolve from the service economy to the experience economy, it will take deliberate action. It is a shift in thinking that is interactive and intentional. The experience economy is a very purposeful level of interaction and takes practice, performance and focus. Just imagine if Starbucks stopped being an experience and commoditized the experience by just serving preset coffee drinks. No more getting your order the way you want with the extra shot or soy versus milk. No more customization of ingredients so that it’s your personal latte and no one else’s. How fast would the value of Starbucks fall?

The key to being an experience stager is knowing that experience is unique to each customer, and the customer becomes the product in which the engagement is designed around. To become an experience, an organization must create a unique difference through the engagement, the purpose and deliberate staging of the engagement in order to create a memorable and valuable event in the mind of the customer. Creating memories through experiences creates increased value and revenue.

We are in the era of the experience economy, companies who do not adapt or evolve from goods or services will be replaced by companies who can stage experiences in order to add greater value to their offering.

 

 

Business Alignment

No matter if you’re a small business, large corporation or non-profit, there are connections in our purpose, communication and the places we connect in. I have written before on the importance of alignment and I am going to do again, but this time I want to break down the idea into steps.

I believe that the three key principles in all businesses are these; Culture, Brand and Place. The principles are not free-standing as some would treat them. No, all three of these are linked in an interlocking pattern. Adjust one and it affects the other two.

Take culture for the first example. What you and those around you believe about the same goal or outcome is your purpose and drives your brand message and the promise your communicate to others.

3 Thoughts on BPC 1

Your promise to others needs a place that reflects this promise and helps facilitate your interactions with others. Your brand frames what your place should be no matter if it is physical or digital. The real message here is that both your physical and digital places should reflect your brand and not merely be a trendy place or a copy of someone else’s place.

3 Thoughts on BPC 2

As I stated at the beginning of this post, all three are connected and each reacts and influences the others. The place where you interact must also support the belief and intention of your culture. It must stimulate those who enter to your belief and help become the stage of your people to communicate your message.

3 Thoughts on BPC 3

It is very important to always remember that these three principles apply to business, play and home. What you believe is reflected in how you speak and what you speak about. Your place becomes a manifestation of those ideas. It is very important to always remember, that all three principles either nourish the whole or jeopardize the possibility of growth and success.

Misalignment Hassles of Life and Business

Have you ever experienced a car that was out of alignment. The strangest of noises occur. Excessive wear on the tires, possibly leading to unusual balding patterns. Eventually this misalignment can cause costly repairs and replacement if allowed to go unchecked.

Misalignment is true of our personal life as well as for business. Unlike the alignment of a car, realigning ourselves can be much more complicated. Like your car, unless you are trained at detecting the conditions and causes, you can cause greater harm than good. When we attempt to repair our own problems and try to realign that which is out of alignment, we tend to allow for subtle imperfections or incomplete repairs to save time or money. Hint, there are no savings to doing correctly.

Take a look at one of my favorite diagrams for personal and business. Now, imagine that every interaction you want to create for another, be it friend or client, you want to be memorable.

BPC Alignment

Ask yourself some basic questions as they relate to staging this experience.

  1. What is the Experience you are staging for others? (The Experience)
  2. What are your beliefs and are they focused on the purpose of this experience? (Culture)
  3. What is the promise you communicate to others that will become part of the experience you want to stage? (Brand)
  4. Where will this experience happen and is it a reflection of your promise and beliefs? (Place)
  5. What language or phrases will you use that can be associated only with the experience? (Language)
  6. What elements of decor or environment pieces will support and theme the experience? (Decor)
  7. Where will the interaction of the experience be found? (Engagement Zones)
  8. Finally, are all these elements of an experience in alignment?

If you are a business or organization, this alignment model becomes quite complicated and at times almost impossible to make work, but stop there. As I have said in the past and posted about, I don’t believe in the “Impossible” only the improbable. All things are possible once you understand how. If you don’t,then find someone who can help.

Just like taking your car to a service station to get realigned, it is best to seek others outside your organization or yourself to help guide you through the process of realignment.

Until next time. Focus on the creation of memories and not the mechanics of the Experience for the experience happens when the memories are created.

Sketchnoting Food Tours

On a trip to Miami for a conference, I had the great pleasure of participating in a wonderful experience. A large group of attendees were presented with the opportunity to take a walking tour of some of Miami’s authentic Cuban restaurants. Being the type of person who loves to experience great food and culture, I was game.

What I soon discovered was that our tour guide was more than just a guide, she was a passionate lover of the culinary world. She was not just giving us a tour but guiding us along a culinary experience unlike any other I have ever had. Up and down side streets to small little niche shops and restaurants we explored and discovered some of the most interesting people and culinary pleasures.

What made this a true experience was the passion Lisa from Miami Culinary Tours had about her world. She wanted each guest she lead to understand, experience and appreciate the culture, food and heritage behind the restaurant scene in Miami. She created moments of memories and embraced what it meant to stage experiences. With only a small amplified speaker and the streets of Miami, Lisa used all these locations as the stages for the experiences or food exploration. And the “Ing the Thing” was not eating, but devouring a culture through its food and drink, consume the Cuban heritage and digest the knowledge she shared.

Bravo!

food tour

Age of the Personal Brand

I have contemplated an idea that is growing larger. The idea of having a personal brand. And as with any brand, comes the brand mark or logo.  So my idea is this; are we truly returning to pictographic or iconographic society?

Evidence would argue that we are. More and more information in our everyday life is being identified by graphic representation and not the written word. Case in point; look to your desktop or mobile device. Very few icons include the use of text. In some cases, applications on mobile devices and desktops are using more icons and graphics to convey processes and functions. One of the obvious reasons is universal use.

Look to another rise in our society, social media brings us the increasing use of emoticons. Graphic icons to replace a set of emotional terms or statements. Technology has brought us back to a digital hieroglyphic age. Everything is becoming represented by icons. If so, then can we create icons for ourselves?

I say it already is happening. From the use of initials to clever Social Media avatar icons, we are in the age of personal branding and with personal branding comes personal logos. To give you an example here are my initials; K.M.D. I have used these all through my art life and as part of my signature. So what happens when I evolve from text to icons? what does my personal brand logo become?

KMD Brand Logo 500

A stylized expression of my initials transformed into a personal brand logo. A logo that can be used in social media as well as to identify ownership of things that belong to me.

But why do we need such icons for ourselves? In an age of graphics and speed, a personal logo does for a person what  a logo mark does for companies, creates a unique symbol that is connected to an individual who may share a name with many others. It is a way to stand out and be recognized.

My prediction is that we are about to see the boom of the personal logo trend. In our world of billions of online citizens, personal logos create that need to be unique or at least be seen as being unique. Soon small garage and bedroom businesses will appear who specialize in creating personal logos and human brands. Who knows, maybe brand consultants will help with couples wishing to join brands or couples needing to create new personal brands due to separation or loss. We have become an industry of we/me.

Is it right? Should we move further back into pictographic and iconographic languages? Maybe not, yet when has that ever stopped a generation or society from following a trend because of popularity or technologic need?

So, you be you and I’ll be me and my mark will be my proof of existence.

Welcome to the Experience Economy

When I hear how some people talk about customer experience (CustExp) or user experience (UX) I get a bit frustrated. Why, because most are speaking about good customer service or a good interface design and not really about an experience that provides an economic value worth paying more for the experience. No what they are really saying is we offer an expected customer service like everyone else. A service that is not measured how well a customer is involved with your offering, rather how efficient you provided it on a consistent basis.

Customer experience has become a replacement buzzword for good customer service without too much sacrifice for the customer or the provider while still keep within budgeted limits. Even some of the books written by so-called customer experience experts are usually no more than satisfaction program authors or worse yet, neglect the point-of-view from the eyes of the customer, rather what they believe to be good for the customer.

Okay, so I am a bit touchy on the subject, so much so that I put the whole book thing to the test by asking myself, of all these authors which ones have had the longest run in print and in person about their unique perspective on experiences. And when I mean unique, I mean that they were the originators and not the adaptors of a given concept. After a few dozen book purchases from the half-price and used book stores I found many were alterations of each other and finding which author came first is like answering the age-old question; chicken or the egg. Only genetics can tell.

There were a few books out there that I didn’t find on the used book shelves, mostly because of limited run or out of print. One however stood out, a book written by two gentlemen with various backgrounds ranging from Logic, Physics and Economics. Both having a strong background in multiple fields of science. Science! not marketing or sales, but science. What’s most impressive is the reason its hard to find their book on the used bookshelves is because it’s still in print and has recently been updated after 10 years. No other author or authors I could find have done this. Maybe you can find a few.

B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore wrote their original book, not white-paper publication, on the subject of the Experience Economy (note: not just the customer experience) in 1999 and then translated in 18 languages that I can find. Then in 2010, it was updated to show changes and the widening growth of the Experience Economy. Through their research and writing identify the economic impact and value and not merely state customer interfaces or service programs.

I was so impressed by their books I began attending their special conferences around their books. Not your typical conferences I grant you, these were “Experiences” all to themselves. the best way to prove your findings and ideas. Good customer experience is expected by customers, staging a true experience delivers on the unexpected and creates memories. Many reports have proven that customers value memories more than goods and those companies boasting good or great customer experiences are all goods or service providers and not truly experience stagers. That is the difference.

To put an exclamation mark on my post, I attended the “Experience Economy Certification” course. A five-day deep dive into the Experience Economy as an economic era and to learn and understand the techniques that companies can use to create experiences worth paying for and not just selling goods or services.

As of this post, I am proud to be of a part of a selected few now honored to be an Experience Economy Experts and not a Customer Experience Specialist.

CELogo-Web_001

#204