November 6, 2017

The difference between a product, a service, and an experience

We buy our milk from Munroe Dairy. It is delivered to our house by a milkman. Our milkman is named Sean. He drives a giant panel truck painted to look like a cow. The kids love it.

Early every Monday morning, Sean drops off our weekly order in an insulated box on our front porch.

Ostensibly, we are buying a product (milk) from Munroe. But the product is delivered, so one could argue that we’re actually paying for a service. But Monroe takes things a step further by Wow-ing us with surprising regularity.

Here’s just one example:

One Sunday night, we forgot to put in our weekly order. The next morning, Sean delivered our usual order anyway.

He included a note saying:

“I think you might have forgotten to place your order so I dropped off the usual just in case. I’ll swing by this afternoon and take it back if it’s still in the box (in case you really didn’t want it or you’re away or something)”

So, if we screwed up and forgot to order, Sean saved our asses. (In case you don’t have little kids, I can tell you that having no milk in the house at 7am is a terrible way for parents to start their day.)

On the other hand, if we purposely didn’t order, he would remove the items with zero intervention on our part.


His actions transcended “service” and become “experience”.

Sean gave us a story to tell (in Seth Godin’s words, he did something remarkable).

I have probably four more stories like this about Munroe.

When people ask me about our dairy service, I might briefly mention that the quality of the milk is stellar.

But mentioning the quality of the milk is nothing compared to the 30 minutes I’ll spend regaling folks with stories about how great it is to be a Munroe Dairy customer.

Heck, I’m telling you the story right now ;-)

And oh by the way...

Until typing out this message, it had never even occurred to me to compare Munroe’s prices to any of the possible alternatives. But since we’re talking about it, I got curious and checked.

It turns out Munroe’s milk is a little more than 2x what I would pay at our local big box grocery store. Does this new pricing info make me think about cancelling our dairy service?

Nope. Not even a little bit. I literally don’t care that I’m paying Munroe double.

In fact, I don’t even consider it an apples to apples comparison.

I’m buying something from Monroe, but it’s not milk.