Yes, You, Too, Can Redefine the Customer Experience

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Few companies have influenced and wowed consumers with intriguing breakthrough concepts for products, a completely new kind of store environment and the introduction of new notions of customer service as have Apple and Tesla. I mention these companies, so closely associated now with “being different,” because these are two of the companies at which George Blankenship, a long-time retail and real estate strategy veteran helped two dynamic and one-of-a-kind leaders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk hone their visions into such compelling brand realities.

Blankenship was a keynote speaker at last month’s Vision Council’s executive summit, which brought together executives from all sectors of the vision industry to work on common challenges and learn about the value of “staying curious” in their roles as company and business leaders.

In addition to a long-time career at the Gap, Blankenship shared that these visionary men were not bound by convention in any sense. They were bold in their ambitions and in how they wanted consumers to encounter their products and brands. In his executive capacities at Tesla Motors, Blankenship successively served as vice president of design and store development, vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience, and vice president of worldwide retail. In these roles, he redefined the car-buying experience, and in turn revolutionized the auto industry.

At Apple, he was recognized as the architect of Apple’s brand-building retail technology, where he formulated and executed one of the most successful retail growth strategies in history. Blankenship focused on nothing less than the reformulation of the consumer experience, the building of brand awareness, and ongoing accessibility to customers. And by doing so, he also honed and refined corporate values, and deeply strengthened customer loyalty.

His message to The Vision Council audience was clear: businesses must think ahead, modernize, recognize customers’ new expectations for service, their now-daily familiarity with tech, their reliance on mobile tech connections and their desire for retail experiences that are meaningful, convenient and, most of all, simple. What can be done right now to emphasize convenience and not erect barriers to simplicity, service and a memorable experience? Expertise and knowledge is important. But how do you bring your customers and patients along on the journey that’s most helpful, enjoyable and relevant to them.

Think of your practice and your store/dispensary from your patient and customer’s point of view. What are the barriers to making bold moves. What are you waiting for? His message to The Vision Council’s audience is just as meaningful to you. Change is imperative. Now.

maxelrad@jobson.com