Are you working on the GUEST experience or on YOUR experience?

Like it or not, we are in an experience-based economy.  We will continue to see organizations determined to commoditize everything based on price such as Groupon, but like Groupon, they are not the future.  For those of us who can remember when America re-discovered Edwards Deming and began to figure out how to build quality into products and services, we are at another tipping point.  This time it concerns understanding experiences.

There is still a great deal of “experience-talk” by organizations and their marketing arms, but at the same time we are seeing more conscious or unconscious integration of experiences into goods and services.  As organizations move down the experience path, there is a critical decision that is often overlooked: Are you going to work on the GUEST experience or YOUR experience?

We are all closer to our own work than our guest’s experience.  We tend to see them as one.  They are not.  Let me offer an illustration.

Mezzogiorno from the Bella Ciao - K. Macdonald

My husband is a chef.  Every morning he would get up and head to the market to buy the best ingredients he could find.  He would return to the restaurant and do an initial prep deciding on particular dishes based on what he had found in the market. Hours later the staff would come in and complete the prep.  Later yet, guests would arrive and they would kick into gear creating individual dishes for each guest.  Finally, they would begin the process of “closing” the kitchen for the evening and preparing for the next day.  This was his restaurant experience

His guests had a very different experience.  Every morning they would get up and at some point during the day decide to dine out calling the restaurant or going online for a reservation.   Later, they would drive to the restaurant and attempt to find a place to park (not easy in downtown Ann Arbor).   Once inside, they would confirm their reservation and be seated.  They would review the menu and shortly thereafter order.  For the next few steps in the guest experience, my husband’s restaurant experience and his guests would closely interact.  At some point, the guest would pay the bill and go in search of their vehicles hoping to have avoided a ticket, and finally, drive home reflecting on their meal.

These experiences are not the same.  My husband, the chef, could do EVERYTHING perfect in his experience and fail.  The guest judges the experience on the totality of THEIR experience, not his.

In the experience economy, it is critical to understand that there are at least TWO experiences and that are different.

Which experience are you working on?