Magazine article CRM Magazine

Pint of View Success in Spite of Itself: How Far Can the Experience Take You When the Product Is Rubbish?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Pint of View Success in Spite of Itself: How Far Can the Experience Take You When the Product Is Rubbish?

Article excerpt

WE LOOK FOR a number of different things beyond price when we go out into the world of commerce. We want a product that does what it's supposed to do, and does it well. We want it to appeal to the senses, unless we're talking about a purely mechanical item, like a No. 4 washer. And we want the process of acquiring and using it to be pleasant and/or memorable--we want a positive customer experience.

All these factors are present to some extent--picture them as the vertices of a triangle, and no product will be centered on any one of them. But it's clear that some businesses stray further in one direction than the others. As big a proponent of customer experience as I am, I still marvel at those cases where the great experience overrides the mediocrity of the product.

I will take some heat for this, but my pet example is Starbucks coffee. Starbucks has built up an immense amount of goodwill because of how the brand feels, but the coffee sucks. I'm not talking about the coffee-based drinks, because they're pretty darn good if you're into that, but the coffee itself ranges from meh to nearly undrinkable--yet the business thrives. I want coffee, good black coffee, and the Seattle Swill doesn't cut it.

I still buy at Starbucks from time to time. The brewed iced tea is very refreshing, the pastries and other items are kinda nice in a bad-for-me way, and friends occasionally want to buy me a cup of coffee and it would be rude to make retching noises at them. I totally get the experience, though. The shops are pleasant, even cushy, places of relaxation and unhurried consumption. The feeling of personalization, of interaction with the baristas, even of patronizing an environmentally and socially conscious business almost makes me forget the sludge in the cups. Almost.

The next example--possibly the quintessential example of experience trumping quality--is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I assume you've all seen it if you grew up in the 1970s or later. If you haven't, don't worry; it will be playing midnight shows on select screens until the sun burns out. As a movie, it is terrible, but nobody cares, because if you're there for the cinematic quality and high production values, you have missed the point.

RHPS is like a joke that only some people get, but gets funnier with every telling. You can't get the experience of going to see this colossal turkey (which I absolutely love) by renting it at home, even with a group of enthusiastic friends. …

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