Customers Don’t Buy Products And Services – They Buy Experiences

“Customers are no longer buying products and services – they are buying experiences delivered via the products and services.”  Tweet This

Those are the words of Gregory Yankelovich, customer experience veteran and CEO of Customer Experience IQ.

As businesses around the world realize they are now competing in highly commoditized markets, we accept that a fresh approach to customer experience is upon us.

Your customers have taken full advantage of the digital world and are now savvier than ever. You no longer have complete power over them with your big-budget TV and radio advertising campaigns.

Social media gives them the power to spread information about products and service – one opinion can be seen by thousands of people across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other websites. Furthermore, customers have the power of choice. Powerful shopping engines give them information about the best products based on price and customer reviews.

With so many choices and so much information available to your customers, what’s going to convince them to buy from you?

The customer experience. This is the way to win over new prospects, keep existing clients and build a business that flourishes well into the future.

Don’t take my word for it. Let’s explore three companies that are selling experiences, not products and services.


1. Apple don’t sell computers or phones, they sell experiences

apple retail store

What makes someone buy an Apple product over a Microsoft product? Why is the iPhone the bestselling smart phone device?

Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, suggests that Apple stands out from its competitors because it sells an attitude. They make products that are beautifully designed and user friendly.

“Apple is just a computer company. There’s nothing that distinguishes them structurally from any of their competitors,” says Simon. Anyone can sell computers, but Apple focuses on the experience that comes with buying an Apple product.

Think about it. Visiting an Apple store, opening up the product and its superior usability are all part of the experience.

David Lumley, lead software engineer at Client Heartbeat, loves the Apple experience. “Everything they do is high quality, from the manufacturing of the physical product through to the UI of the operating system,” he says.

What can we learn from Apple?

  • Focus on being innovative with your customer experience.
  • Strive to be different; don’t settle for the same experiences that you competitors are offering.


2. Disney World don’t sell theme park tickets, they sell experiences

disney world more than theme park

There’s a reason why Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the world’s most popular theme park. Disney focuses on creating an experience based around family entertainment.

The company considers the customer experience with everything they do. For example, their company overview reads, “The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise…”

Disney doesn’t tell their customers they sell theme park tickets or create animations. Instead, they recognize they’re in the family entertainment business and sell their customers the total experience.

What can we learn from Disney?

  • Don’t focus on what you do; focus on why you do it.
  • Make the customer experience a firm part of your business. Include parts of your customer experience strategy in your vision and company overview.


Related: 3 Simple Strategies You Can Learn From Disney’s Customer Experience


3. Amazon don’t sell products, they sell experiences

amazon two day delivery

Amazon certainly isn’t the only online retailer. But how do you explain the gobsmacking fact that their sales are now higher than the combined sales of the next twelve biggest online retailers?

Simple.  Amazon recognizes that to compete in today’s price-sensitive world, they need to create better customer experiences. In Amazon’s latest earnings release, CEO Jeff Bezo noted they were, “working hard on making the Amazon customer experience better and better.”

As CEO, Jeff leads from the front with the company’s vision. In recent years, Amazon rolled out their Amazon Prime program, which offers free two-day shipments to customers for $99 a year. This is unmatched by other retailers, adds value to the Amazon offering and makes it hard to justify buying from any other online retailer, let alone offline.

Amazon is a trailblazer that continues to focus on the customer experience. They are now investing in their own U.S. delivery network and have R&D working hard on their Prime Air ‘drones.

What can we learn from Amazon?

  • Continually innovate and try to improve the customer experience.
  • If your business model is heavily reliant on online transactions, the experience becomes harder to manage and even more important because you don’t have any face-to-face contact with your customer.


Start selling experiences

I challenge you to start thinking differently about the way you sell your products and services. Customers want more than a bare-bones offering. They want an experience that adds value and goes above and beyond their expectations.

gregory yankelovich customer satisfaction quotes

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Your thoughts

Have you started selling experiences rather than products or services? We’d love to hear how you’ve done it in the comments below.

Interested in learning more? I recommend these blog posts:

Gordon Tan

Gordon Tan is an entrepreneur based in Australia who has started and sold multiple technology companies with a combined value of $150m. This included a client satisfaction benchmarking platform which gave him first hand insight into the best practices of over 6,000 businesses. After retiring at 35 he is now a recognised thought leader on winning and retaining clients - His two passions: making clients the heartbeat of a business no matter what the product or service and this blog.

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