Worth Reading

You may have missed Clued In — How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again by Lewis Carbone. It is worth buying.

1.  The compelling premise of the book is: “The tangible attributes of a product or service have far less influence on consumer preference than the subconscious sensory and emotional elements derived from the total experience.”

2.  The book is chock full of real world examples that will resonate and inspire you (and you will need the inspiration because the work Carbone suggests is difficult but rewarding).

3.  He artfully compares the downfall of Howard Johnsons with the continuing dominance of Disney. While the Howard Johnson’s story will seem like something out of the history books to younger people, everyone can appreciate the point. (By the way: is there a family in the U.S. who hasn’t been to Disney, isn’t saving to go to Disney, or isn’t somewhat angry because they can’t afford Disney?)

4.  This bit resonated strongly with me: “In the aftermath of a transaction, the way people remember and value an experience emotionally will have everything to do with their ultimate commitment to an organization or brand, far more than what actually did or did not happen in the purely rational sense.”

5.  Carbone further explains: “It’s how customers feel about themselves that speaks to the unconscious perceptions they derive from the experience.”

6.  I agree. When we began to carefully manage our sales events with the aim of making prospective customers feel good about themselves rather than good about the company, more prospects scheduled visits with our salespeople. None of the tangible attributes of the product were changed; our paradigm shift produced the result.

7.  In Part 2. The Practice of Experience Management, Carbone provides a framework for approaching Experience Management as an engineering project. This is where the true value of the book lies (and the hard work). It is too much to try and summarize here, suffice to say in this section, Carbone lays out a pretty comprehensive approach your company can use to engineer experiences.

8.  Adopting Carbone’s methods is not a task to be taken lightly but the rewards of improving how your customers feel about themselves when they are with you — increased sales, loyalty, and word of mouth — will make the effort worthwhile for most organizations.

9.  While I have not specifically applied Carbone’s methods, my experience suggests that carefully managing the experiences your customers have when they are with you will pay off handsomely.

I have no relationship with Lewis Carbone, his company, or the purveyors of his book.

However, I agree with Carbone — systematically managing your customers’ experiences will pay off handsomely.

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