Customer experience and customer service are often confused. Though not necessarily the same thing one (i.e. experience) is often the result of the other (i.e. service). Had a bad experience with a retailer? That’ll probably be because their service let you down or wasn’t what you expected.
But a detailed academic study from Cranfield back in 2011* cited a colossal 119 elements that contributed to customer experience. That was without factoring in the important considerations of ‘channel choice’, ‘experience consistency’, ‘personalisation’ and ‘customisation’. Phew! And while not all 119 applied to every sector, there was still a pretty hefty list for retailers to consider.
Fast forward to 2016 and Micah Solomon on Forbes.com** manages to narrow it down to just 5 key things most are getting wrong. This is his list, with our “spin” on it;
1. You’re not the customer
The customer experience as the organisation perceives it doesn’t really exist, because it’s inevitably taken from its own perspective and not his/hers. Just as marketers and retailers have become obsessed with the “Single Customer View” (that is the view OF the customer and not BY the customer) when instead taking a “Single Brand View” (how the customer perceives THEM holistically and across channels) would provide a far better perspective and insight.
2. “It’s been emotional”!
Sure, customers have specific needs. They’re looking to buy what you sell and to transact with you. Solely providing the opportunity and mechanism for that though won’t be enough to generate engagement and loyalty. For those to come into play requires an added emotional dimension. You’ll need to surprise or delight them, make them feel valued or honoured, connected with, taken care of.
3. It’s not a one-off
You can’t formulate a good customer experience and assume it’ll always stay that way. As Solomon says “it requires continual work, reinforcement, entropy-fighting on the part of your organization at all levels.” Your customers might take great experience for granted, that doesn’t mean you can!
4. Be like a duck
Sir Michael Caine famously quipped about being like a duck “…calm on the surface and paddling like hell underneath.” A smooth, gliding customer experience can mean hiding that paddling, and all of the non-essential details that might distract him and detract from his experience. Apple stores nail this by removing the need for cash registers (and queues), receipts and manuals, etc.
5. On time (if not earlier)
Slow? Late? Waiting? Customers won’t tolerate any of these, however seamless and enjoyable the rest of their interaction has been. Speed is of the essence and should be your mantra too.
* “What makes a great customer experience?” Dr Fred Lemke, Prof Hugh Wilson and Prof Moira Clark (2011)