It’s all about the experience

February 21, 2010
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201002181240.jpg I’m writing this while sitting at a table at Philz Coffee in my neighborhood sipping on a Tantalizing Turkish coffee. Now if you know me you might think that’s a little odd since I rarely drink coffee (mostly tea for quite a few years) but for those of you who don’t know Philz, let me tell you about the experience. When you enter Philz you’re greeted by aromas of exotic coffee blends, a cross between a cafe and your living room comfortable feel, a somewhat confusing list of coffee blends, a row of fedora’s hung on the wall and 3-4 smiling faces behind the counter. Coffee you want, well you won’t find any triple grande soy carmel macchiato light foam extra hot drinks here. Philz is all about hand blended, hand ground, hand made coffee. Want something dark and rich, try “Tantalizing Turkish Brew”, something light roasted, “Canopy of Heaven”, medium more your thing, how about “Ambrosia: Coffee of God”…there’s a detailed write up on each…

201002181240.jpg I’m writing this while sitting at a table at Philz Coffee in my neighborhood sipping on a Tantalizing Turkish coffee. Now if you know me you might think that’s a little odd since I rarely drink coffee (mostly tea for quite a few years) but for those of you who don’t know Philz, let me tell you about the experience. When you enter Philz you’re greeted by aromas of exotic coffee blends, a cross between a cafe and your living room comfortable feel, a somewhat confusing list of coffee blends, a row of fedora’s hung on the wall and 3-4 smiling faces behind the counter. Coffee you want, well you won’t find any triple grande soy carmel macchiato light foam extra hot drinks here. Philz is all about hand blended, hand ground, hand made coffee. Want something dark and rich, try “Tantalizing Turkish Brew”, something light roasted, “Canopy of Heaven”, medium more your thing, how about “Ambrosia: Coffee of God”…there’s a detailed write up on each (“under the canopy of heaven is likely where you will discover the collection of beans for this glorious cup of coffee. This signature blend is bursting with lively complex flavors and sweet beans from across the globe to produce a delicious caffeinated blend.”) that is tantalizing enough to make the coffee lover’s palms sweaty and their heart beat just a little faster. Don’t know what you want, just ask one of the bartender (they call themselves that here), they can match the coffee to your taste buds. Once you choose, the cup is made to your specifications (want cream, how much, want it sweet, light, medium, very…) individually, fresh ground for your cup, fresh blended exactly as requested. At Philz its all about the coffee experience…you can even become a Philevangelist with Philz iPhone app, Facebook fan page, blog, Twitter handle (@philz_coffee) and web site.

So why does a mostly non-coffee drinker stop at Philz a few times a week and drink coffee. When I go to Starbucks to work I drink tea, Peet’s Coffee the same, but at Philz I have to have a coffee…it’s simple really, I buy the experience of drinking Philz coffee. I’m engaged, but more than that, I’m an advocate for Philz Coffee (you can order the blends online, by the way, check it out). Someone wants coffee in my neighborhood, I’m sending them to Philz, not Starbucks or Peet’s. At the SCRM Summit a couple weeks ago, Paul Greenberg led a discussion on engagement and selling an “experience”. As an example he used a brand that really hits home for me (if you have daughters you’ll probably get this one), AmericanGirls. They sell the experience. When my daughters were young I used to read them the books. When they were old enough they saw the dolls and all the accessories and had to have several (no, not just 1 doll, no way…lucky they have grandmothers who are easily, ah, convinced). Their dolls are about $100, then you add the clothes, furniture and accessories…it gets pricey fast! They even sell matching clothes for the doll / owner. Eventually my daughters had to have the ultimate AmericanGirl experience, they had to make the pilgrimage to the NYC store for the “experience” (yes, they actually call them experiences). There’s dining, tea, salons for the doll, photo studio and of course all manners of parties to be had. Talk about engaging your customers and creating advocates!

There’s a lesson here for brands big and small. We used to teach that brands need only ask 1 question (the Net Promoter question) as a measure of loyalty and engagement (the “would you recommend” question). Now we know that the 1 question metric isn’t enough. There are actually a series of questions that provide insight into loyalty: 1. would you recommend, 2. “did you” recommend, 3. did the referred person / company actually buy and 4. were they a profitable customer. In social CRM we talk about engaging the customer or creating an engaging environment for the customer. Underneath that “engagement theory” though is something else, I think…the power of the experience. A brand that creates an experience for its customers creates engagement through that experience. Now here’s the hard part, there’s no “creating an experience” handbook out there. Each brand would have to answer that question for its specific product set, and frankly, the only way to create an experience for your customers is to KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS intimately. That’s where social CRM comes in and its a cycle…the better you know your customer and what they want, the easier it is to create an experience that will create engagement and the better the experience the more engaged the customer the greater chance you will / have created an advocate. And in the end, isn’t that what we’re really about, creating brand advocates?