It’s the experience that counts

It seems like customer service has dropped off in most companies. The people at the counter don’t seem to really care about me as a customer. Often, I will be waiting to pay at the counter and the person working there is on their cell phone or talking to a co-worker. I expect to be the focus of their attention – especially when I am trying to give them money.

I worked for a company that had a strong reputation for customer service. The culture was ingrained in nearly every employee and everyone seemed to go the extra mile to serve the customer. Everyone was engaged and we used surveys to help us with continually trying to get better. This is the culture that most companies dream about.

But it wasn’t enough. We found that competitors said that they had the best service. In the end, everyone tried to say it, but the market was skeptical. The president asked me to differentiate the company. Since our culture was so strong on customer service, we made that the foundation. The challenge was taking it to the next level. After researching and even visiting number of different companies, we decided to build our differentiation on Customer Experience.

Not only do people want good service, they remember and value the experience of that interaction. Experience goes beyond getting the transaction completed successfully. It incorporates feelings and emotions. Everyone remembers their trips to Disney. Buying shoes at Zappos is clearly different. So we built a model of service that incorporated the experience, using things like social media, mobile tools and employee engagement/attitude. We then created a multi-media room to help people understand our Customer Experience vision. The multi-media room had several large screen monitors, an interactive motion and voice directed control system and a multi-sensory surface. People visiting the room were blown away. The most common comment we heard was “That is like Disney!” We helped people understand our vision through experience.

But that was just the start. Of course, the foundation is to have solid, high-quality service. But we wanted to continue to improve so we built metrics and dashboards to track progress. Many companies use Net Promoter Score, or general satisfaction, as their metrics. We went with the Customer Experience Performance Index. It included three key components:
– How effective was the transaction?
– How easy was the transaction?
– How enjoyable was the transaction?
Everyone measures the effectiveness. Many people try to get to the ease of the transaction. Very few go so far as to measure enjoyment. But enjoyment is the key aspect when building customer “experience”. Metrics are necessary to track how progress and identify where there are opportunities for improvement. Striving to continually improve is critical.

In this day of cost management and mediocrity of service, good service can be a major point of differentiation. Imagine the impact that is possible if we build in experience to go with that great service. I believe this can be the key to building strong customer loyalty.

About Dave Zuidema

I am an experienced senior level leader, formerly with a B2B service public company. I have served in numerous leadership roles including strategy & vision casting, process redesign, product management, operations and business development.
This entry was posted in Company, Customer Experience, customer service, Marketing, Strategy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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