It’s all about the experience

You cannot begin to imagine my excitement when a sign went up on one of the storefronts in our neighborhood proclaiming that a store selling candy and frozen yogurt was coming soon. (Forget the candy, but love that frozen yogurt.)

I’m willing admit being hooked on frozen yogurt. But I suppose if one is to have an addiction of any kind, frozen yogurt isn’t as bad as others.

So after waiting patiently for many months, the OPEN sign went up, the lights went on, and I couldn’t wait to give them a try.

Admittedly, there is another addiction. I am also addicted to guessing how long I think a new business (retail or otherwise) will last. So heading down the hill to the yogurt store, I went through my mental checklist. The top of the checklist was that it was on the wrong side of the street. No parking, or very inconvenient parking. No stores nearby that were opened after hours – as opposed to the shopping plaza across the street. So strike one: less than ideal location. Well, I can’t change that for them and they didn’t ask.

In through the door I walk with that frozen yogurt top of mind. The store is mammoth –– probably four times larger than it needs to be. To me that’s a telltale sign that either the owner got a great deal on the lease or that, in time, his overhead will bury him. My guess is for the latter. He’d need to sell a heck of a lot of frozen yogurt. Strike two: too much overhead.

I’m the only one in the store except for two men behind the counter. I look around a little. They are talking to each other about something. I can’t discern exactly what. But it’s enough for me to conclude that either one or both is the owner of the store.

I walked up to the counter. Without glancing at me, they continue their conversation. Finally, I interrupt and ask, “Could I get a yogurt?”

One of the men – still deep in conversation with one another – takes my order and fills a medium sized cup with chocolate and vanilla swirl.

There are no prices on the menu that’s posted on the wall, so I didn’t know what to expect. What he asked for was more than I’d typically pay. But it’s local and I like to support local. No driving. No fuel cost. No wasted time. It’s worth a few cents more.

I take the yogurt, pick up a spoon and napkin, and walk to the door.

The yogurt tasted fine. But the experience was far from memorable. Oh, that’s too kind. The experience was lousy.

There’s a small yogurt store back home (Palm Harbor, Florida) that’s owned and operated by a very friendly man with a very heavy French accent. He and my wife Sandy often converse in French when we’re in the store and placing our orders.

He greets everyone with a smile and a “How are you today?” question. That’s typically followed by, “Do you like strawberry?” or something like that. (That means a free taste sample is on its way.)

By comparison to the new yogurt store down the hill, it’s a great experience –– not only because of the wafer cookie that the Frenchman pops onto each frozen yogurt as he hands it across the counter, but because the experience makes me want to come back.

I haven’t been back to the yogurt store down the hill –– not because of the yogurt, but because of the experience. So strike three: bad experience.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling frozen yogurt or fine jewelry on Fifth Avenue, first and foremost you must create a positive experience for your prospect, customer, or client because setting aside a less than perfect location, higher prices, even a mediocre product, it’s the positive experience that will bring them back the next time and the next time and the next.


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