Commodity or Experience

By John Stanley

The world is dividing into two and customer service providers need to know which camp they belong to.

I work mainly with retailers and the selling game is rapidly changing. Customers are either wanting to save time or savour time and your customer service will be judged on how you read your customers and which of the above two concept you adopt.

Let me explain, generally, when customers are in their ‘save time’ mode, they are buying a commodity and price is a major issue. If I’m a commodity shopper, I’ll tolerate low customer service levels and often will expect it. Commodity retailers include supermarkets, department stores and large hardware retailers. If customers get good customer service when commodity buying, they are often surprised.

When you and I are looking for an experience, we expect high levels of customer service and will complain if we are not receiving it. When experience shopping, price is not the key issue. We are savour time and the experience is the key issue.

Remember, the product can stay the same. You can buy an apple as a commodity from the supermarket or as an experience at a farmers market. You can buy a coffee at a fast-food outlet or as an experience at Starbucks.

The amount of input you put into customer service depends on where you see your business in the marketplace, but don’t get squeezed in the middle either, sell me a commodity or sell me an experience!

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