Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Selling the Experience

(1:17) Marketing today has become almost obsessed with Customer Service, how to teach it, how to measure it, how to improve it, and even defining what it is. Customer service is important to every type of business and doubly (triply) so to a service industry. I think it is more true today than ever before.

(1:07) Much of this is due to the dominance of the internet and the ease with which customers are able to share information. Review sites like ActiveCaptain, Amazon, and Trip Advisor have both satisfied and fed the desire of consumers to find more reliable information about the products and services they buy. But what does that really mean to boaters?

(0:58) Unless an encounter is outstandingly good (or bad), I rarely hear boaters talk about how the customer service was at a marina. Instead, what they describe is an experience. The combination of the amenities, staff interactions, other boater interactions, etc., that made up the whole of their experience.

(0:50) Recently I read a description of an "Aha" moment from Westin Hotels. They realized that what they were really selling wasn't a room with internet access and a good restaurant. The most important experience for the customer was a good night's sleep. So they improved the beds, linens, pillows, any aspect that could lead to a better night's sleep. And it paid off.

(0:39) Think about the experience a boater is looking for when they come to your marina. Be able to define that experience and then understand what components go into that experience and how to make it better.

(0:34) Remember, there is no one size fits all here. My experience at one marina can be very different than my experience at another. An example might help.

(0:30) The experience I want at Coinjock Marina in Coinjock, NC is a secure spot where I can easily pull in for the night and quickly leave in the morning as I move along the US ICW. Boaters were getting just that experience as they pulled in each night but the mornings were typically a bit chaotic as boaters attempted to squeeze out of their spots. The owner starting having staff on hand to assist during the morning departure times. The boaters experience improved and so did the reviews.

(0:14) For other marinas the experience might be a destination location, a safe haven from a storm, or a resort vacation. If you're not sure what your experience should be talk to boaters, especially ones that are repeat customers. Find out what it is that brings them back.

(0:07) You are not defined by your list of amenities and features. Understand the experience you provide boaters. Then work to improve and promote that experience. You'll see more business and more positive reviews.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.