Customer Service? No, Customer Experience!

Customer Service

We’ve all been to a business that won us over with exceptional customer service; I have written about it in the past, how being very content with a current provider, having the need to try another provider and finding a better level of customer service and subsequently making a change in regular custom. The first provider did nothing wrong, they had always provided a good level of customer service and gave no reason for me to leave; yet leave I did.

There have been many books written about the importance of providing high customer service; and even some written on the downsides of good customer service. There have been many businesses that have built their success around providing great levels of customer service; many of these businesses have been very successful over long periods.

Good customer service can be described as providing service to the customer that meets or exceeds their expectations. No one loves great customer service more than I do; having written a number of blogs and articles and spoken on the topic, I have seen my fair share of great, good and bad customer service. I’m not here to tell you customer service is not important; on the contrary, customer service has always been and will always be critically important to every business (and for individuals) to succeed. However in today’s commercial world where borders no longer exist and less and less transactions are performed face to face, the challenge is to take this to the next level to find a new competitive advantage.

What Customer Service Doesn’t Do

While great customer service can set you aside from your competitors, it can never make up for a less than great product. Believe it or not, I have seen businesses trying to use great (and I mean great) customer service as a point of difference when their product is below par. This may bring short term successes and customers through the door but it will have no better long term success than a business selling the greatest product with terrible customer service.

Just as great customer service will not make up for substandard products, it will not make up for many other inconveniences and in today’s global commercial world these can be anything from;

  • Location
  • Accessibility
  • Cleanliness
  • Payment options
  • Website

The list goes on.

Think of your favourite establishment, this could be a shop, restaurant, hotel or anything else. Somewhere you frequent regularly or somewhere you go infrequently but feel excitement about going. What is it that keeps you coming back? Is it the product? Or is it the customer service? Or is it something more?

What is Customer Experience?

That something more is what we call the Customer Experience and it is becoming more and more critical as cyber commerce grows and transforms the way we purchase and do business. Let’s take a look at some of today’s best examples of this transformation.

I have written about Uber in the past, (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/uber-argument-jason-tisbury/) and like to use them as a comparison to the standard business model of the conventional taxi industry. Another example is Amazon vs the conventional store. In Australia, although widely used for purchasing books and ebooks, Amazon does not yet have a stronghold; this will change however when Amazon opens its first stores in the country. In Australia currently, Amazon only has the categories of Books, eBooks, Apps & Games on its website so the competition it creates for local conventional stores is not great. When Amazon opens its first store in Melbourne sometime in 2018, local businesses such as Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi will have a new competitor. Just as they have had to compete against the unconventional competitors in e-commerce, they will need to improve their offering to keep customers coming back to their stores.

We’ve seen how a better product or better customer service can help bring customers in, however bringing them in isn’t enough. You have to give them a reason to keep coming back, and an even better reason not to look anywhere else. This is the customer experience. Life is not about purchases, and it isn’t about good service, life is about the experiences. Why do we go on a holiday, or a theme park? Why do we spend the time and money to go watch a movie? Because of the experience. Give your customers a better experience than they can get anywhere else and they are more likely to keep being customers – no matter what business you’re in!

The experience starts well before they enter the store and lasts long after they leave; that’s the difference between experience and service. Service is over when the customer leaves; the customer experience is not.

Again, think of those favourite establishments and ask yourself what do they do differently to make your experience better?