Experience (ik-spîr-e-ns) n.
- The apprehension of an object, thought, or emotion through the senses or mind.
- Active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill
- The totality of such events in the past of an individual or group
Starbucks is famous for alot of reasons – from being the world’s largest multi-national chain of coffee shops, to its incredible franchisee success, and the creation of an entire language and subculture that has enpowered a remote workforce (via both caffeine and wifi). I mean, anyone who can convince you to buy a $0.25 cup of coffee for $5.00, obviously has done something interesting.
Therein lies the magic of Starbucks – they have engineered the simple transaction of purchasing coffee into an entire “consumer experience” – complete with sights, sounds, and smells which permanently transform and embed the activity deep into the nucleus accumbens. This physical phenomen has been well described scientifically, and has also been well described culturally by the book The Experience Economy.
Basically, the authors lay out the framework that with the adoption of technology, intense competition, and the increasing expectations of consumers, that traditional value-added services have begun to be the new commodities. As a result, customers in the digital age will expect companies to step up the value chain by offering a “compelling consumer experience“. Not only do they want this type of experience once, they want it every single time, consistently, at a fair cost, and to the highest standards of quality and value. Put another way, consumers want services that are a “complete packaged solution from a trusted brand, that can be purchase conveniently, and delivered consistently anywhere.“*
Healthcare is the ultimate service oriented industry could and should be the ultimate “compelling consumer experience”. Afterall, getting a glitzy $5 cappuccino pales in comparison to getting a correct diagnosis, appropriate treatment, caring advisory services, and a good healthcare outcome. Given the explosion of information available through the internet, increased accountability, reimbursements focusing on quality and outcomes, the nature between the physician and the patient (consumer) has and will continue to shift.
The consumer driven revolution is well underway, with an entire new generation of healthcare IT companies (Health 2.0) looking forward to providing a new healthcare experience for consumers – one in which they are “educated, engaged, informed, and even entertained”* while actively participating in their own health throughout the cycle of care for their unique medical conditions. Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting some of these “Health2.0” companies who are emerging in the context of this revolution.
I for one, look forward to be an active participant on the ride. Should be quite an experience.