5 Observations From A Student Of Customer Experience


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Photo Credit: Jirka Matousek via CC License

Photo Credit: Jirka Matousek via CC License

This post was originally published on the FCR blog on January 15, 2016. Click here to read the original.

One of the best ways to improve your customer experience is to become a student of the customer experience. It’s not difficult to do. It really entails first realizing that you are a customer and then observing and learning from your various interactions with other people and organizations. Great customer experiences are so much about relationships that you can learn as much from interpersonal interactions as you can from companies.

Over the past week, I’ve had a series of noteworthy customer experiences. Some of them were more about having the right systems or tools in place, and others were about customer service professionals who were focused on delighting their customers. The best experiences happen in the convergence where great customer service professionals are put in positions where they have the right tools to deliver that experience.

Make Setup Effortless

I recently took my family down to the local bowling alley for the first time. With young children, we used the bumpers which I must say enhanced my score tremendously! One typical hurdle in any bowling experience is figuring out how to enter each bowler’s name into the system and get started. This bowling alley took that problem away altogether. They asked for our names at the front counter and entered them into the system right then and there. All we had to do was lace up our shoes, select a ball, and start bowling.

At the end of our game, the gentleman at the front counter remarked that he hoped our kids had a great first time bowling and printed a copy of their scores to take home.

Upsell When It Makes Sense

My car was way overdue for an oil change. Needing something quick, I opted to take it to Jiffy Lube. They had great ratings on Yelp and did not disappoint in person. One of my beefs about typical repair shops is the way they upsell extra services. I dread the moment when they walk into the waiting area holding a greasy part and say “You need to replace this” without adding much of the why behind it.

In the case of Jiffy Lube, they washed my windshield and vacuumed my car as part of their standard service. During the course of their inspection of my vehicle, they brought the air filter in just to show me it didn’t need to be replaced. Then they showed me that I had a couple lights that were out. Knowing that lights can be a pain to replace, I agreed to have them do it.

While customers may be resistant to upselling, highlighting all of the nice extras that you are doing for them (vacuum, windshield, etc) can put them in a frame of mind where they are more receptive to paying for extras— especially when it’s convenient and you explain the benefit to them.

Help Customers Remember

I typically purchase tires from Costco and enjoy the fact that rotation and balancing is included for the life of the tire. The only problem with rotating tires is that you’re supposed to do it every 6,000 miles, which is on a different cycle than oil changes (Yes I know these cycles vary depending on who you talk to). The point is that it’s hard to remember yet another thing to maintain.

On my last visit to Costco it’s like they read my mind. After rotating my tires, they put a sticker on my window indicating when the next rotation was due. Helping customers remember when to do maintenance, especially when it doesn’t cost extra, sure is nice.

Put Customers At Ease

I recently took my kids on their first plane flight. Ask any traveler and one thing they undoubtedly dread is going through security. Who enjoys emptying their bags and disrobing in front of a bunch of people all for an unfriendly TSA agent? It sounds like a bad dream.

This trip was different. Upon entering the security line, a couple TSA agents literally ran over to us to give my kids stickers and wish them well on their trip. Way to go TSA at the Portland Airport! When you make my kids happy, you definitely put me at ease too.

Adapt To Their Needs

On the same trip, we stopped at the airport McDonald’s to get Happy Meals. I asked my boys what they wanted. One said “cheeseburger” and the other said “grilled cheese.” Knowing they didn’t have a grilled cheese, I ordered him a hamburger.

At that point the cashier looked at me with a smile and said “Actually, at this other place I worked at, we made a grilled cheese for someone once.” It was almost as if he was daring to break the rules. From the back I could hear the cook say “Wait, what’s up with this hamburger order?” The cashier walked back to the cook and explained what to do. Sure we would have been satisfied with a hamburger but we were delighted with a grilled cheese and what a difference that made.

Each of these experiences was relatively small and routine but when compared with the alternative, they made a whole lot of difference. My goal is not to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the customer experience, but to observe the things other people and companies are doing right and emulate those in the experience I want to deliver.

Tell us about a great customer experience you’ve had recently? What made it great? How was it different from an average or poor experience you’ve had?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.


  1. Great anecdotes. All of the examples, and pieces of advice, are built on emotional consideration within the experience, a key precept for delivering value. Further, most of the situations were specifically about proactively building trust between the vendor and customer. What often makes experiences memorable for the customer is the vendor doing something at once positive, pleasant, beneficial and unique, what I and others have described as lagniappe, or unexpected added value.

  2. Jeremy,

    “Make Setup Effortless”, I like this, your first, topic. Unfortunately too many business are opting for the “self-serve” aspect under the justification that customers want this.

    It’s up to the customer to determine what they want, not us! Great article,



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