I had the good fortune of interviewing Joe Pine, co-author of The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage and Co-founder of Strategic Horizons, this past week for an upcoming episode of the Future of Field Service podcast. It was such a good conversation that not only could I not wait for you to hear some of Joe’s wise words, but it was worthy of a written post as well to really drive these points home. Don’t worry, I am not giving it all away – consider this a sneak peek of more extensive conversation that is incredibly relevant to your business.The premise of Joe’s book is a reality that field service organizations are living out today – customers are demanding more than products, even services – they are demanding experiences. You hopefully have accepted by now that continuing to provide even outstanding service will not be enough – you have to dig deeper to determine how to differentiate your business. Joe would argue, and I would agree, that thinking hard about how you can deliver experiences to your customers is a viable path to differentiation (as is considering how to deliver outcomes, which we get into on the podcast – so stay tuned!). So while I’d argue the entire conversation is necessary listening, I am sharing here my top three points Joe made during our chat and why they are imperative to your business today.
- Service is the “what;” experience is the “how.” This distinction was helpful for me in framing the Experience Economy concept in a way that allows you to begin brainstorming exactly how your service operation would need to evolve to shift from providing services to staging experiences. So if fixing a broken refrigerator is your “what,” how do you reach beyond this and add on your own unique “how?” Is this done through some sort of unique branding (Joe mentions the Geek Squad as an example) or to-do at arrival? Is it a personalized conversation during the visit? A hand-written thank you note? Doing some real thinking on what your “what” looks like, and how you can add your own “how” is how you begin moving from service to experience and begin setting yourself apart from the competition.
- Understand the difference between service characteristics (nice, easy, convenient) and experience characteristics (memorable, personal, time well spent). This is an important point, because I’d argue that adjectives like efficient and productive are familiar and comfortable to most service organizations while adjectives like personable, relatable, and empathetic may not be. The art of experience is far different from the art of service, so this takes a concerted effort to really change. Yes, your customers value those service characteristics – there is always a place for ease and convenience. But the point is, in today’s service landscape, those characteristics are becoming table stakes. Mastering the art of the experience is where you’ll begin to differentiate, and this takes a different skill set than many service firms currently foster and value.
- The subtitle of Joe’s book is Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage. To progress beyond services and offer experiences, you have to look at each interaction as being on stage. How do your employees perform? What feelings are your customers left with when that performance is over? Fixing an air conditioning unit isn’t a performance – what are you adding to that service visit to evolve that interaction into an experience that will be remembered? As Joe talked through this, it made me think quite a bit about what this means for field service organizations that are working on recruiting and hiring. As I said, the art of staging experiences requires a different skill set than providing service alone. It’s important to think through what this means for your business – how can you upskill the technicians you have so that they are capable of providing these experiences? What types of training and coaching does this require? What sort of characteristics should you begin looking for in the hiring process?