Creating Customer Experience: A Fallacy


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Can customer experience be the shortcut to  exceptional customer service?

​I was at a coffee shop to meet a friend who also happened to be the manager there. I was catching up with him, and a free cappuccino in the bargain. (Yes, by nature we humans are freeloaders.). As we were talking a barista came up to him with a problem.

They were out of blueberry muffins and an obstinate customer insisted on it for her daughter. Murphy’s law was playing up again.
“Give her a chocolate muffin, on the house. And throw in a couple of cookies. Give her a great experience.” The barista went away. I watched her deliver the free muffin and cookies. The lady’s eyes lit up and she smiled, shaking her head as her daughter bit into a cookie. My friend smiled,‘we fixed that, didn’t we? It’s like you say, all about creating a great experience.”
Did they really create a great experience for the customer? It would have been a great experience if the customer got what she wanted, when she wanted and with the right ambience in the restaurant to enjoy it. That would be great.  Giving the customer freebies is hardly creating a good experience; its just bribing her to accept their shortcoming; in this case badly managed supply and inventory. It’s just bad ethics with a good name.
What if the customer had refused the free goodies? What if the customer had remained annoyed and dis-satisfied? How would they then create a great experience? They’d already played their trump card of giving freebies.
The experience a customer receives is an interpretation of his or her own perceptions and expectations. It is also relative to the customer experiencing it. One may think its superlative while another may consider it just about adequate. You cannot ensure everyone has the same interpretation of the service rendered. The experience a customer feels is not in your control.
In the changing room of a football team they strategizes on how to score goals. The air is crackling with excitement and confidence. The players get on to the field, all gung ho and positive. The first whistle blows and the game is on. Is there any guarantee they will score? No.
Creating customer experience is akin to that. Any number of strategies cannot guarantee a great experience for the customer.
The other misconception is that the customer experience is an individual occurrence. You do one good thing and think you’ve won over the customer. I wish it was that easy, but it doesn’t work that way with the customer. They need the reassurance of the same good things happening repeatedly, till they’re convinced the business means it.
(Customer Experience is not one big event)
There is but only one way to ensure a great experience for the customer – by doing what the business has promised to deliver and is in it’s control – Exceptional Service Quality. Nothing beats that.
Ask any customer. Ask yourself; you’re a customer too.  What do you expect from a business that you interact with? It always comes down to 2 things:

  1. Getting what the business has promised.
  2. Not wasting your time while they’re doing it.

Both these variables are fundamental to delivering exceptional service quality; and both are in the control of the business.
So let’s not get the cart before the horse. Go with exceptional service quality and watch it create great customer experience.
Customer Service has no shortcuts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sunil Panikker
Sunil Panikker is a business consultant specializing in customer service, operations and business strategy. He has honed his expertise over 30 years of experience, working in senior management positions, with companies having global footprints, and responsibilities that have been cross-functional & multi-locational. His blog shares the experience and expertise assimilated from managing customer experience across multiple diverse industries.


  1. I disagree. If I order a muffin and I get the muffin, I don’t stroll away thinking I just had a good customer experience. It’s not about rolling with expectations – that’s just business. Creating a good CX is when you go above and beyond what’s expected and leave a positive impression. To use your example, if the muffin isn’t available and the business goes over and above (in this case, provides a muffin plus a cookie) to ensure I’m happy, that’s what matters. I’m walking away happy. To use a ‘what if’ scenario isn’t really logical here. There’s many options and alternatives to everything, and if you proactively ask the customer what they would like as an alternative, and don’t charge for it – you’re doing the right thing – I don’t see this as bribing for your shortcomings.


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