Managing the Experience

I took my family out to dinner last night.  It was my oldest daughter’s birthday, and my wife and I wanted to take her someplace special.  We went to Tony’s.  Tony’s is the only five star restaurant in St. Louis, and they work hard to earn that designation.

Upon arrival the valet takes your car and you enter the restaurant.  The maitre’ d asks your name and checks you in.  He had previously noted in his records that we were celebrating Sara’s birthday and immediately wished her a happy birthday.  Boy was Sara surprised!

We were seated at a round table in the corner, and then the headwaiter and his team of three came over to introduce themselves. They would be working together to serve us that evening.

The table was set with square frosted plates.  We would never eat off of them.  Our water glasses were filled, and bread was placed on the table.  We were offered drinks, and then the wine steward arrived with the wine menu.

Having three people to fill water glasses, pour wine, make sure we had sufficient bread, and answer any questions we had about the items on the menu was a sight to behold.

After we ordered, the square frosted plates were removed and our silverware was “modified.”  If you ordered salad then the proper fork was placed in front of you.  When you were finished the appetizers and salad, the table was cleaned of any crumbs and again the silverware was changed.  If you ordered fish, then you were given a special fork and knife.

The main course was prepared in the kitchen but finished tableside.  My dover sole was filleted as I watched, and to make sure that the server didn’t miss any bones he lit a candle and placed it next to the plate before he began his delicate procedure.  There were five people “finishing off” the entrees for the six of us.

After dinner the table was again cleaned of any crumbs.  Our water glasses were removed and replaced with new fresh ones.  We ordered dessert and coffee.  Before the deserts arrived, one server placed a plate on the table with several small sweets to enjoy with our coffee.

As we walked outside after dinner it was raining.  One gentleman pulled up the car and two others held umbrellas to keep us dry as we entered the car.  What an evening!

I’m not going to tell you what our bill was, but I will tell you that you would be hard pressed to go to Tony’s and get out for less then $125 per person.

How does Tony’s stay so busy?  How are they able to charge the prices they do?  What keeps people coming back?

It is very simple.  It is not about the delicious food.  It is not about the fantastic wine.  The location really isn’t that good.  Ultimately, it is the experience that people are paying for.

It is an unbelievable dining experience when so many proficient people wait on you.  The food was delicious, and the service was fantastic.  But, it goes beyond the service.  The experience we enjoyed will be remembered long after we’ve burned off the calories from dinner.

Good service is the price of admission if you are going to stay in business.  However, when you can deliver a unique experience to your clients, then you have the opportunity of charging more and keeping customers coming back.

Products are commodities.  So many companies just perform at the industry norm.  You need to stand out.  People are willing to pay more for a unique and rewarding experience.

When you go to Disney World you aren’t paying for the rides.  You are paying for the experience.  You pay hundreds of dollars a day to see the look on your children when they see Mickey Mouse for the first time.

I’ve been fortunate to dine at Le Jules Vern restaurant on the Eiffel Tower.  Yes the food was good, but you can get good food at many restaurants in Paris.  The experience of dining on the Eiffel Tower and being able to look out over the city of Paris is unforgettable!  It’s worth the price of admission to experience that just once.  I don’t remember what I ate that day, but I remember the experience, and I would be willing to pay to experience it again.

What is the experience that you offer your clients?  Is doing business with you the same as doing business with your competitor?  Do your clients talk about you with their friends and send you an endless stream of referral business?

Here are three critical business functions you should analyze in order to evaluate the quality of experience your customers are having:


1. Evaluate Your Sales Process

Look at every step in your sales process.  What is your client experiencing?  Do all steps add value for your client?

No one likes busy work or to be made to jump through hoops.  Every form you use should be evaluated.  Each method of contacting a client should be looked at.  Are you valuing their time?  Does each step of your sales process move you closer to a decision?

How are you helping educate your clients?  Are you making it easy or difficult for your clients to buy?

Nordstrom’s keeps records of all your purchases.  If you are in a hotel in San Francisco and you need a shirt, they know your size and the colors you like.  You can call them, and they will deliver a shirt to your hotel in your size and in your favorite color.  This system makes the buying process very easy for the customer!


2. Evaluate How Your Client Receives Your Goods or Services

After the purchase is made, what does your client experience?

My uncle is an incredible car salesperson.  He has sold over 20,000 automobiles in his career.  When he delivered a car his customer received the red carpet treatment.  Whether he sold Chevrolets or Jaguars, his customers were made to feel like royalty.

He always offered a beverage upon arrival at the dealership.  Then, he went through the entire automobile and showed how all the systems worked.  Next, he would introduce the customer to the Service Manager.  Not only did the customer feel important, but my uncle was almost guaranteeing that any future service on that vehicle would be performed at the dealership.

I purchased some clothes the other day.  The pants were placed on nice wooden hangers and put into a zippered garment bag.  The sales person gave me her card and told me to call her with any questions or concerns.  That is a first class delivery experience.

It is not enough to have a great sales experience.  You must deliver your product or service in unique and interesting ways.


3. Evaluate What Your Customer Experiences After the Sale is Completed.

The sale is made, and the product or service has been delivered.  Now what experience does your customer have?  Do you stay in touch?  How do you accomplish this?  Maybe you send out birthday cards.  Maybe you call from time to time.  Is your correspondence unique or the same as everyone else’s?

My uncle would call his customers four months before the automobile lease expired, because he knew that they would be starting the shopping process.

If your client refers someone, what do you do to say “thank you.”


There are thousands of people out there who are trying to be successful.  They work hard, just like you do.  They study their products and services, just like you do.  They have nice offices, just like you do.  They offer good quality, just like you do.  The true real way to differentiate yourself and the only real value a customer wants to pay for is the experience they have.

Take the accountability to create an experience your customer and clients will brag about.  Manage your customer’s experience.  Make it fun, exciting, and memorable, and you will be on your way to Building a Better Biz.


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