I changed opticians a couple of years ago – after a very minor eye problem that my high street opticians backed away from in horror and swiftly packed me off to the local eye hospital, I decided that I needed eyecare that was a little less commoditised.
So my Dad referred me (as his mate had previously referred him) to a specialist independent opticians an hour away. It costs a bit more, but you really get your money’s worth, from being examined by an experienced ophthalmologist with all the latest tech to having an actual optician (rather than a spotty adolescent in a badly fitting suit) assist with glasses selection. Add in comfy sofas, this month’s Vogue and an unhurried appointment and paying a premium price isn’t painful.
The whole experience is so great that both my Dad and I recommend the practice all the time – and my lovely ophthalmologist tells me that in his growing business nearly all of his new patients come to him by recommendation, because his investment across the entire customer experience does the marketing for him and makes customers more than willing to pay for it.
Essentially, while all service industries are migrating towards ‘budget’ and luxury’ (gyms and hotels are great examples), the customer experience is what will most strongly differentiate and add Value – whether that is ‘value for money’ at the budget end or ‘worth paying more for’ at the higher end.
If I had a client in a sector like gyms or hotels at the moment, I’d want to re-approach ‘CRM’ as joined-up ‘CERM’ – standing for Customer Experience and Relationship Management. Because happy customers do the marketing for you.