“If you are really building great things, then people ought to be benchmarking themselves against you.” — Peter Salvati
Today, customers take features and benefits, product quality, and a positive brand image as a given. What customers want is for you to dazzle their senses, touch their hearts, and stimulate their minds. They want products and services that deliver an experience.
Everything matters — including your linens
There are four essential ideas to creating great experiences with your towels and linens:
#1: Focus on creating customer experiences
Experiences occur as a result of encountering, undergoing, or living through situations. They are triggered stimulations to our senses, the heart, and the mind. Experiences connect the company and the brand to the customer’s lifestyle and place individual customer actions and the purchase occasion in a broader social context. In short, your linens also play a role in the customer experience. They provide sensory, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and relational values that replace functional values. The fold in the towel, the quality of the linen, the softness, and even the clean uniforms all play a vital role to crafting the customer experience.
#2: Examine how your towels and linens are used.
Do not think towels and linens, think “grooming in the bathroom.” You can begin by evaluating your products, their packaging, and their advertising before consumption and how it can enhance the consumption experience. Think about where you can create synergies. For example, Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin uses experience in music to make transatlantic Virgin flights more fun and to get customers to go to a movie theater, where they sample Virgin colas. Richard puts it this way, “We have put the Virgin experience together across retailing, entertainment, food, music, and travel.” Think about where you can create meaning with the use of your linens, where your competitors ignore such meaning.
#3: Drive emotion.
While customers may engage in rational choice, they are just as driven by emotions. Don’t treat customers just as rational decision makers. Customers want to be entertained, stimulated, emotionally affected, and creatively challenged. Direct your experiences towards the pursuit of fantasies, feelings, and fun.
#4: Customers pay a premium for experiences.
If you think customers buy solely on the basis of price, consider a real commodity: the coffee bean.
When a manufacturer grinds, packages, and sells those same coffee beans in a grocery store, the price to the consumer jumps to between 5 and 25 cents a cup. Now brew the ground beans in an average diner or coffee shop and that service now sells for 50 cents to a couple of dollars per cup.
But wait. Serve that same coffee in a five-star restaurant or espresso bar, where the ordering, creation, and consumption of the cup embodies a heightened ambiance or sense of theater, and consumers gladly pay anywhere from $2 to $5 a cup.
Welcome to the experience economy.
Now, what will you do with your linens and towels to enhance your customer’s experience? Will you treat your linens as a commodity or will you transform your linens where they enhance the experience your customer feels by engaging with your brand?