SMBs' Digital Experience Should 'Surprise and Delight' Customers

June 2, 2016 Peter Krasilovsky

Building a product used to be about place/product/price. But increasingly, it is now also about the experience.  

Taking a cue from credit card companies that promise a differentiated experience  -- such as a  backstage pass to meet Selena Gomez -- many businesses are now looking to use technology to create personalized experiences to “surprise and delight” their customers.

The idea of a personalized experience is especially important online, which by its nature, can be  a “me too” lookalike.   As Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn says, “We need to show we care about our customers as people.”

 It is more than just using a customer’s first name in targeted email (although that is not a bad thing). Specifically,  SMBs can reward customers with special perks, such as free services and setup, food or events – many of these can be linked to loyalty accounts, but go beyond the rewarding of points.

SMBs, for instance, can schedule appointments and deliveries – a  big perk; and highlight nearby events and services using a phone’s geo-location.  They can also solicit feedback and reviews and plan other activities that make customers feel special.

Westfield Mall, a leader in the move towards “experiences,’ is seeking to take back some of Amazon’s market share by a total immersion in the customer experience.  A new Westfield program is aimed at helping mall customers use the Web and mobile services to help them find parking spaces, search for items in the mall, tie into loyalty programs and plans events.

“We are in the business of connecting consumers with retailers,” said Co-CEO Steven Lowy at the recent ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas. “It’s that simple.  Shopping used to be the whole equation, but now it is just part of it.”

About the Author

Peter Krasilovsky runs Local Onliner, a consulting firm that focuses on how digital channels target local consumers. “Local” has been a focus for him since 1995-96, and the firm's practice now includes search, marketplaces, geotargeting, vertical media and loyalty and promotion services. Peter was Chief Analyst and Vice President for BIA/Kelsey from 2006-2015. He holds an MA from The Annenberg School of Communications at The University of Southern California and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. He currently resides with his wife Sharon in Ashland, Oregon.

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