The title of this post is one that most of you should be familiar with, as it's been one of the driving forces in CRM for quite some time now. Customer Experience is one of those things everybody wants to provide, whether online or off. Great. But some businesses are going to have an advantage where that is concerned. Defrost Walt Disney's head and he'd tell you.
Last night, Meaghan and I were down in Union Square (the New York one, natch) and decided to stop into Max Brenner, a restaurant whose main devotion is to chocolate. We'd been meaning to for some time, but we were right there. It was an experience that no Web site can match.
From the outside, Max Brenner looks like any of a hundred establishments fashioned after an Irish pub. From the inside, it's Wonkaland for grownups. There are covered vats of chocolate mixing in the entry hall, with pipes and pressure valves mocked up to give the appearance that chocolate is the place's circulatory system. Food is on display, enticing you to make your choices. Each diner receives three menus: alcohol, much of it chocolate-themed; food, including some chocolate things; and a booklet of other drink and dessert choices, with the obligatory drool-inspiring shots on every left-hand page. If you're not grinning like a happy child by the time you've browsed through them, you can't possibly be human.
And then there's the smell. There is a subtle aroma of fine chocolate in the air when you walk in and sit down (service was prompt, by the way, despite a very busy night). Subtlety ceases as soon as anybody nearby orders anything warm and chocolate-endowed, and you get punched in the face with full-on chocolate bouquet that will leave you giddy. We went in there for actual food, but when the couple next to us received their orders—a molten chocolate cake and something involving a waffle—I seriously considered having my sandwich wrapped before it was even served, the better to contemplate my impending cocoa suicide.
Show me a Web site that can incite this kind of ardor, and I'll show you the next trillionaire. Now of course there's no fair comparison of a restaurant to an e-commerce site, but that's the sort of feeling businesses should be aiming for, the "Oh boy!" reaction that makes you feel you're getting a treat, like you're getting special handling. At the very least, it should be a pleasure to go into the store or sign onto the site, with some positive memory to take home with you and the desire to return.