We’ve changed the phrase.
It used to be about customer service … but now we talk about customer experience.
Is there a difference?
A quick online search – truly just grabbing the first definitions that come up – reveals:
Customer Service: the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services. (Google definition)
Customer Experience: In commerce, customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service. (Wikipedia)
Hmmm… they seem quite a bit different. And providing a customer experience certainly sounds more complicated.
But providing a customer with an experience, while providing services, isn’t new at all. And it certainly isn’t complicated.
When you think about the early days of retail goliaths the likes of Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom’s, you think elegant fixtures and design, perfumes, gift wrap, and novel shopping bags.
The holiday catalogs you received from Sears and JC Penney offered delight, surprise and convenience of delivery to your door!
Restaurants as exclusive as the original Brown Derby in Los Angeles or the first drive-thru McDonald’s each offered more than just a meal.
All of these establishments offered ‘assistance and advice’ to their customer – but each also attracted a specific type of consumer base because of the ‘attraction, awareness, discover, cultivation, advocacy, purchase and use’ of their service.
Today, when we think of unique or exceptional customer experiences, behemoth online retailers Amazon and Zappos, and, even one of our all-time favorite brick and mortars, Nordstrom’s, come to mind.
And, for current, extraordinary, in store experiences, Apple.
The common thread among each firm mentioned is that every decision made within the organization, from the top down, is based on how it will affect the customer.
At corporate meetings Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, even places an empty chair in the room to remind staff that the customer is as much a part of decisions as anyone else.
The Customer in the Board Room
Whether your staff meetings include an empty chair or not, every change to your business – physical space, product line, changes in management and staff – should not be confirmed until these questions are asked:
- Does this align with the values of our customer?
- What would our typical customer say about this decision?
- What is our motivation for making this change? (customer satisfaction or profit?)
Keeping tabs on cultural shifts that affect your customer, listening to your customer and sharing feedback with everyone on your team from the top down, will assure:
- You staff will naturally understand where their focus should be (less training)
- Employees who have direct interaction with your customer will be more innovative and think on their feet
- Increase in sales and profitability will naturally follow
And wouldn’t that be the best experience of all for your firm?
What does your team do to insure the customer is in the room when decisions are being made? Please share below.
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