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Transactions Vs. Experiences

The hotel was nothing to write home about. You couldn’t really fault it either. The facilities, which matched the hotel’s star rating were as described. The room was clean. The bed was comfortable. The staff were efficient and polite. But—you knew there was a ‘but’ coming. The place lacked a spirit of generosity. It had no soul. There was no magic. It was as if the management had deliberately planned to deliver the minimum required to meet spec and no more. I got a room, and the hotel got my credit card details. A transaction took place.

Every business has a story to tell about how discerning, disgruntled and sometimes downright demanding customers have become. It’s as if peoples’ expectations know no bounds. There’s another side to this story though. Our side. The story about what’s at stake for us as leaders, entrepreneurs and marketers. When we deliver the minimum required and deal only in transactions, we’re not only disappointing customers—we’re selling ourselves short in all kinds of ways that can’t be measured on a balance sheet at the end of the quarter.

Our customers subconsciously mirror our attitudes and behaviour. When we deal in transactions, we become transactional brands. When we go above and beyond, people know. When we are generous, they respond.

My friend James runs a thriving cafe in Fitzroy Gardens called KereKere. The cafe gets its name from the Fijian custom of giving without expecting anything in return. KereKere customers leave feeling that they got more than they paid for because James has intentionally built a business that creates experiences. James doesn’t believe in simply processing transactions.

The inadequacy of the adequate isn’t just that it leaves customers feeling flat, it’s that it denies us the opportunity to do our best, most meaningful work.

Image by Linh Nguyen

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