Customer Experience – What it isn’t!

It isn’t PR hype.
A colleague of mind recently bought a car from a company which has proudly proclaimed in all its advertising and PR that they are better than all the rest because of the experience they give their customers.  Highly laudable until she actually experienced what they perceived was great customer experience.  So many organisations make these extravagant claims because they see it as a way of differentiating themselves from their competitors.  This would be great if they really understood ‘customer experience’.

It isn’t what is written in a training manual.
My son has worked for two major financial organisations both of whom make great play on their customer experience credentials.  They even publish figures to back up these claims.  You only had to talk to him as an employee to quickly realise that they are not talking about customer experience, they actually mean ‘service delivery’ which is a quite different thing.  He talked about the length of time he was allowed to spend in conversation with the customer and the methods his colleagues used to deal with difficult calls.  It was easy to spot that these organisations had no real understanding of what their customers experienced simply by listening to the language used by their highly trained employees.

It isn’t apologising when things go wrong.
An award winning Phone Company apologised to me on 15 occasions over a six week period before they managed to connect my home to a phone line. Every conversation I had with them started with ‘I can only apologise for that sir’.  I spoke to operators, sales, customer service, managers and even a coach all of whom failed to deliver the ‘bread and butter’ service of the company.  But they did apologise whole heartedly for the failings of their colleagues on each occasion!

It isn’t surveys and data collection.
I had a very interesting conversation with a Regional Director of a major Parcel Carrier.  They were a very good organisation that had made brilliant improvements in their service.  When I asked him to prove to me that they were good he quickly produced figures, graphs, measurements, and tables.  I was very impressed they had fantastic processes.  My experience had been in trying to get into their building to attend our meeting, just as any member of the public wanting to make a collection would do.  Poor signage and staff who were happy to assume I knew my way around meant this was to say the least frustrating.  They probably just needed another graph for this.

What it is, is very simple.
As a customer facing person use this test – Ask from which side of the customer interaction are you looking? That of your organisation; or that of your customer?

What is happening to your customer? Did you deliver? What does your customer see?  What does your customer hear?  What does your customer feel?  What is your customer experiencing?  That is their customer experience.  We’ve all been a customer; we all know what it is like to be a customer so it can’t be that difficult to understand your service from their perspective.