The Experience Economy: Engaging the Mind

When I was a small child, my mother liked to shop at a local consignment shop. Now, shopping as a kid can be pretty boring, but we liked this place as well: they kept a little corner full of toys where we could play while Mom took her sweet time browsing the racks. In fact, she usually had to drag us away – and if you’ve ever taken a child shopping, you know how rare that is.

Adults are really just big children, and we still hate being bored. If you want to be that place that everyone loves, it’s important to engage the minds of your customers.

Below are four ways to create a mentally engaging experience that will make your business that business everyone wants to visit.

Include Interactivity in Your Customer Experience

Create ways to involve your customers or clients in the workings of your business. This can be as simple as engaging online content or as big as an entire campaign asking participants to name a crayon color, for example.

At its heart, marketing is just a form of communication, and effective communication is always a two-way street. Participating in something gives people a sense of belonging, as well as a stake in the game. When your favorite potato chip test flavor is chosen as part of the company’s permanent line-up, you bet you are going to buy those chips!

Interactive opportunities simply make your business more memorable. Some people learn by seeing or hearing. Almost everyone learns by doing. Use that in your overall strategy, and it will be hard to lose.

When customers participate, it increases the time they spend with your business, engages more of their senses and turns a basic visit into a memorable experience.

Enlist Entertainment in Creating the Customer Experience

When my kids were young, shopping was rather like pulling teeth with several small tornadoes circling.  I often chose to patronize a certain Trader Joe’s, because they had a chalkboard by the checkout stand where the kids could draw while I stood in line. Boredom, beaten.

Humans love to be entertained. We have entire industries built around entertainment, from music to theme parks to reality tv.

Why are celebrities so popular? It’s not usually because they are incredibly smart or strong or wise (although some are); it’s because they entertain us!

Celebrities know the value of this when it comes to selling products. Last week I ate an Oprah pizza, and you can go online right now and order Taylor Swift perfume and Kardashian makeup and Beats by Dre.

You too can take advantage of this direct link between entertainment and spending decisions. Happy, occupied people get invested, and where people are invested their money soon will be as well.

Give your customers something to enjoy – it can be as simple as playing fun music in the shop, or as exciting as throwing a party in your space. Or just hang a chalkboard!

A few other ways to entertain clients and customers:

  • Add puzzles to your fading collection of waiting room magazines
  • Hide a store mascot in a different place each week; anyone who finds it gets [a coupon, free sample, discount]
  • Take to social media and give the mascot a platform for its antics
  • Put a riddle in your storefront each week. Include the answer to last week’s riddle.
  • Keep “poetry magnets” up on a magnetic wall and let clients make their own poems while they wait
  • Contests! Competitions! Events!

Use Narrative as a Part of Your Customer Experience Strategy

One of our favorite ways to be entertained is through narrative, or story. People have been telling stories since before we had language, and they are still one of the most powerful forms of communications.

Stories are more likely to change minds than data is, and are much more interesting.

How can you include narrative in your customer experience? The storied mascot above is one creative option, but there’s no need to make up fictional stories – your business has stories built in.

Tell the story of how you started, why you keep going, where you envision your future.

Tell the stories of your employees and clients (with permission, of course).

Tell about what happened last Monday, or when you were 12 years old.

Tell stories about the community. Ask the community to tell their stories to you. The only thing people like more than hearing stories? Telling them.

Call on Emotions in the Customer Experience

Research shows that emotions, rather than logic, dictate most of our beliefs, actions and decisions. Tap into your client’s emotions and you’ve tapped into the decision-making center.

There are so many ways to call up an emotional response. We’ve already touched on several in this series; play music, use color, tell stories, keep them entertained.

Be purposeful about the emotions you invite. Some industries, like life insurance, depend on negative emotions like fear; others, like real estate, on positive emotions like hope.

How can you decide what emotional response to aim for in your customers?

Think about the decision process. What emotions are involved in choosing your product or service? What emotional journey must clients go on in order to reach a “yes”? You can even ask past customers to talk about their own process, and take notes.

Engaging the minds of your customers is well worth the extra effort. Hopefully you’ve got some great ideas of your own now that you can implement!

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