Customer ‘experience’ vs. service – Floor Covering News

customer experienceBy Chris Wallace – In a recent survey conducted by Synchrony Financial, 4,000 customers making major purchases of $500 or more across a variety of categories, including appliances, home improvements, carpeting and mattresses, were given their highest priorities when selecting a company business. Surprisingly, “product selection” was number 13 of a list of 24 priorities.

What have we learned from this? We have learned that products abound; consumers tell us that other things are more important. They say, “Make my life easier, build trust with me, stand behind your products. Provide people who can help me – people who are knowledgeable and know what they are talking about. That’s what I need, no more product.”

It is important to remember that customer service and customer experience are not the same. Customer service responds to your customers. In other words, when they need something, you’re there for them, you listen to them, you show them you care. Customer experience, on the other hand, is about anticipating what they need, anticipating when they will have a need, and designing a strategy and solutions that help them meet those needs. It is a conscious strategy, not a reaction mechanism.

Here’s an example of delivering a great customer experience. When I was younger, in my teens, I worked for a minor league baseball team. I would venture to say that I have learned more about being a good business professional and how to serve customers by working in a minor league baseball stadium than ever before in the corporate world.

For example, if someone pays $8 for a ticket and a beer is spilled on it, they’re mad about it. Good customer service makes sure that if a beer is spilled on them, that you respond, you are empathetic, that you show that you understand. You give them a ball or cap, and a few tickets to another game.

On the other hand, offering an unforgettable customer experience ensures that the subscription holders do not sit in a place where they get a beer. It anticipates, it thinks ahead. It makes sure that instead of having a little girl and her family come to you after she gets hit with a foul ball, you make sure that families are put in a section where there are nets, where the little kids don’t get hit with a ball. That is customer experience.

One of the basics of providing a great customer experience is: the easier you can make someone’s life, the better. An example of this is digital marketing. We’ve made so much progress in the last 10 years in this area, but instead of creating a better customer experience, you could be creating more confusion.

Instead, make sure you have someone who can explain to the client how the right selection will result in the right investment in her home. Or how it will be the right product for her family, the kids and the dogs – or whatever her living conditions are. It’s extremely important that someone help them figure that out. The easier you can make that for them, the better.

Chris Wallace is the president and co-founder of InnerView, a marketing consultancy that helps companies deliver their brand messages to their customer-facing employees and partners.

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