Articles Tagged ‘Controlling traffic’

You, The Architect of Your Customers’ Experience

Friday, November 2nd, 2012


So…recently I spent the day at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. It was fabulous and such an “experience”. It’s a must see for history as it’s thenation’s largest home it is also a brilliant example of marketing a destination and providing your customers as many ways to give you money as possible.

First and foremost you should make the Vanderbilts a study of old school entrepreneurship and building and sustaining a fortune. This specific historic landmark is still privately owned and run by the family as a for-profit business. As they should.

They have a quote that says, “We don’t preserve the Biltmore to make a profit, we
make a profit to preserve the Biltmore.” That’s a great philosophy for you to
understand wealth; it is your responsibility to maximizing your profits for yourself
and for your customers. You can’t provide the service and run your business most
effectively unless you are making a profit. Duh. The more the better.

I thought I’d share some of my experience with you and let your mind imagine and
wander around your business and brainstorm how you could be making your customers’
interaction with you more of an experience. When you do this, whether selling
online, locally, from home or brick and mortar, you will captivate your customers’
minds and their money.

Here are a few lessons…and how you can apply them to your business.

Controlling Traffic. This idea is most notable for Disney where people exit rides and
are then guided / forced to walk through the gift shops. At the Biltmore traffic
flow is guided, one way in and one way out, past the house and other attractions,
you can’t help but drive by and want to stop. In your business you should be
“guiding” your customer’s path whether online while shopping and buying or in person
or at an event, etc. Control the customer path.

Provided Everything. If you don’t want your customer to wander away from you, look
at what else they will want or need to buy. At the Biltmore at some point it was
nothing more than a tourist attraction to come and see history, not shops, food,
activities, everywhere — truly you can spend days, certainly a day and never leave
because one thing leads to another. Does your customer have a series of things they
can do and buy from you, are you providing everything they need to make their
purchase and experience complete with you?

Branding and congruency. Most people think of this for bigger companies but it’s
the little details that matter. Every place and everything you buy at the Biltmore
is private labeled. Sure they sell other goods in their shops but whenever possible
things say “Biltmore” on them. Of course the reason is you can only get it there…so
when you are buying on impulse there is not conversation of “we’ll get this another
time.” Does your customer see your brand enough places — are you building loyalty by
being congruent and in their minds from start to finish…do you have “take home”

Upsells and Upgrades. My favorite part of the Biltmore which they could do a much
better job of as we all could, but they do very well, especially considering their
unique business model is this: At every (and I mean every) cash register they ask if you
are an “annual card holder” or member because you get 10% off. They work very
diligently to upgrade your membership to receive discounts and to get you back.
They also have 2nd day passes for only a small additional fee. Of course once you
are there you want to come back. Do you have loyalty programs and appropriate
incentives, reasons and plenty of ways for your customers to give you more money?

The Experience and getting your customers back. Overall the experience was amazing
and I can’t wait to go back. They have special times for every season changing
decorations, activities, and of course the natural environment changes already.
They also did an amazing job encouraging this place to be a routine visit and even
for locals it was obvious all throughout the day that local people embraced the
Biltmore and treated it as a Park where they would go perhaps daily for exercise and
enjoying nature. It was a family friendly, warm and comfortable place that just
made you want to go exploring and stay as long as you possibly could. A funny thing
about experience, each place had hours staggered so you could coordinate your
visits, the house taking final tours at 4:30, shops closing at 6:00, other shops
closing at 8:00, and restaurants closing at 11:00. I mean it was simply brilliant.

So, you just have to go…you must see this place, please be sure to plan for a full
day or spend two days in Asheville because it’s amazing too. We didn’t get to stay
at the Inn at Biltmore but plan to when we return.

Please take time to look at your business and see if it excites people, see if you
would want to be your own customer, if you’d want to come back…see if you have an
experience in place that keeps your customer engaged and wanting to stay and spend
money with you. This is the secret of all secrets: once you get them, you have to
keep them…and you want your customer so excited about you they write things like
this, what I’m doing right now…that’s when the magic happens. An experience so
grand that your customer leaves talking and telling and sharing all about you, and
they can’t wait to go back and give you more money themselves.

You’re the master designer and architect of your customers’ experience…have fun
and they will too.

Scott Manning

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