What do you mean by Customer Experience?

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“What do you mean by Customer Experience?”

I get asked this question all of the time. Although I help organizations to build great customer experiences every day, this is a surprisingly tricky question to answer. The best way to illustrate the concept is to offer examples.

These piano stairs recently caught my attention because they embody a truly fantastic Customer Experience.

The customers in the video did not just commute; instead they experienced the subway system. For many commuters, the subway falls somewhere between “routine” and “necessary evil.” However, when a small but delightful change is introduced to one aspect of the subway experience, it can add a new and unexpected dimension.

Providing an excellent Customer Experience means more than simply providing a good or service; it delivers your customers with an entire environment that complements your product or service. Understanding and utilizing all the ways in which your company interacts with your customers – especially the details – can enhance the time your customers spend with you and thus increase your revenue.

All too often we take business too seriously. We forget to enjoy what we do. I highly recommend showing your team the piano stairs when you are explaining the concept of the Customer Experience to your team. They are a catalyst for brainstorming and an excellent example of creative CE execution.

Another excellent example of a Customer Experience comes from Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore’sbook, “The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage.” The authors compare why a cup of coffee from one of the trendy stores costs so much more than the local diner. The customer is not just paying for a cup of coffee at the trendy store, but also the jazz music, the leather chairs, the fireplace, calling the server a barista, the Wi-Fi, and all those other little extras that build the experience around the cup.

Of course, a great product is still the core of your business, but in today’s competitive market you have to utilize every bit of power available to you. To build a great Customer Experience, you must take advantage of every possible aspect in your journey map and help customers interact with you.

Enhancing the Customer Experience can influence customers in almost unimaginable ways. If it seems counterintuitive, just think about the success of Starbucks. Chic coffee in that familiar green and white cup is available virtually everywhere you go.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Colin, excellent points and one that hopefully more companies will come to understand. If I may share my own story — some friends who moved away about 5 years ago came back this weekend for a conference and wanted to see the “old crowd” for dinner. There is no good sushi where they live, so that’s what they wanted…and it had to be near their hotel. Now, us locals know about and discussed two sushi places within walking distance of their hotel. One is lower priced with better selection and excellent food, but a very plain atmosphere. The other has a fantastic, trendy, nightclub feel with almost-as-good food/selection and slightly higher prices. After a very short discussion, we paid more for the “eatertainment” as Pine and Gilmore refer to it…and had a great time.

    The trick, of course, is executing on it. Most companies can’t just dim the lights, put some cool art on the wall, and hire great-looking staff – their business model requires a more comprehensive approach (which, by the way, was what we wrote about in our new book, The Customer Experience Fiasco: Learning from the Misguided Adventures of a Customer Experience Executive).

    On another note – I also agree with Mr. Yankelovich’s comment – case in point: what problem was Facebook solving for when it rolled out the News Feed changes that got everyone riled up two weeks ago? I’m not sure anyone knows the answer there, and in this case, it proved to be a negative.

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