National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) - InTouch Magazine, Summer 2022

6 NAMA InTouch • Summer 2022 A Closer Look What’s Your “Why?” Carla Balakgie, President & Chief Executive Officer of NAMA In the midst of the chaos and change of the past few years, most of us have asked this question: What is the “why” of what we do? Opportunity springs from times like these. We stand at a remarkable inflection point to consider this question for the convenience services industry. And at the 2022 NAMA Show in Chicago, this premise was on full display in the form of opportunity. It’s a time to examine changing consumer demands and create improved customer experiences for both your business customers and their end users. People want a healthy, convenient, frictionless life. They want to take charge of what, when, where and how they access and consume products and services. Your customers are looking for partners that can help them elevate end-user experiences to meet these expectations. Many customers understand that convenience services is more than a profit center for their business — it’s a benefit, an amenity, a competitive advantage and with today’s labor shortages, it is a must-have. And creating these remarkable experiences where consumers live, work and play ensures that our industry remains the must-have provider. George Blankenship, who has built transformational customer experiences at Apple, Tesla and other companies, said it well in his keynote address at 2022 The NAMA Show: “What is important is not that people are buying Apple products — it’s why they are buying these products.” I was fascinated when Blankenship told stories about his weekly meetings with Steve Jobs at Apple and later with Elon Musk at Tesla. He said those meetings focused on building customer connections and loyalty. He recounted how this discovery process led to Apple stores (which many wrongly predicted would fail in two years), to the “Genius Bar” in those stores, and to a personal attention program where people could pay $99 to spend an hour with an Apple expert asking whatever they wanted. “We figured out how to charge people $99 to come in and buy stuff,” he said. “We wanted people to engage with us however they wanted to engage. It was a profound discovery and opportunity.”