Total Customer Experience – the sum of the parts is greater than the whole

Has this every happened to you? You go to two stores, they have the same product, the same price and you get the same level of attention from the sales person, but for some reason, you leave one store feeling much better about the service than you do from the other. How does that effect customer experience?

What is it about the buying experience (you have the same product or service, the same price, the same attention) that results in you choosing to buy from one store or supplier as opposed to another?

Some would suggest that the difference is in the quality of the customer experience. Let’s explore this concept. Firstly, how do you define quality?

If you have read my previous blogs before, you know that I like to reminisce about the old days, days when I was just starting out in business. In one of these early roles, the factory I worked in as an Industrial Chemist, defined quality very simply; it was “fitness for purpose.” In other words, it worked like we said it worked.

In the context of customer service however, this definition doesn’t cut it. Customer experience is about far more than a product doing what it was designed to do; you have to add in all the other factors that affect a buying decision. Influences like: how it’s presented, availability & access to information about the product, comparisons to competitors products, the sales persons demeanor and knowledge, the store layout, the buyers mood, the price, the time of the year and a 100 other factors. In my opinion, I believe the secret ingredient is not just fitness, its care.

What do I mean by care? I mean putting your needs at the centre of everything that every person who contributes to your product or service does. Do you get the sense that the product manufacturer, the retailer, the service person and everyone involved in making your customer experience, cares about you?

Customer experience & care can be traced all along the chain. When two complementary products are presented at different ends of the store, the store designer does not care. When a salesperson talks more about themselves, or is watching the clock instead of looking at you in eye; they don’t care. When you received your packaged goods, upside down, damaged and hard to access; the packing and distribution team do not care.

So if you are in the business of delivering goods or services, show how much do you really care about your customer. A good business will know their customer well. If you do, then you should go the extra mile to show that you put their needs ahead of your margins, commissions, or getting home early. It could be the difference between getting the sale or not.

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