The old economy has been dead for a while. The service economy has followed suit and has been replaced by the experience economy. Although that is looking a little frail, too, but the relationship economy is just around the corner. Or so we hear.
Actually, successfully delivering services to customers has always involved delivering satisfying experiences in addition to satisfying outcomes — whether we knew it or not. And yes, these days customers may have much higher expectations of experiences than in the past, and experiences may well be a much greater differentiator than outcomes.
Similarly, the rise of the connection or relationship economy is being widely discussed. Again, this doesn’t seem to be entirely new: establishing & maintaining good connections or relationships in one’s market has always been essential to successfully delivering services (at least when customers had a choice). However, a service provider’s failure to adequately connect/relate to its customers and other stakeholders may have much graver and far-reaching consequences today than in the past.
So, by all means, let’s co-create excellent experiences with our customers (and employees, partners, suppliers, etc.), let’s connect to others on a human level, and let’s invest in our professional & personal relationships, but let’s call a spade a spade, and a service a service.
Update 2017–03–24: Changed last section to “co-create…with” instead of “deliver…to”. Thanks, Jeff Sussna.