The Experience Counts

Tom Peters talks about customer service and the ‘experience economy’. His point that ‘Experience is the last 80%’ underpins the value of customer service when it comes to the success of a product or service. The days when a sound product was enough to ensure a company’s success are long gone. That’s just not enough in today’s market. These days, the phrase, “experience counts” is still true – but we’re looking for more than just expertise. You have to add one very short, but absolutely critical word – THE experience counts.

The formula for The Customer Experience is simple – but not always easy to achieve. Expertise + Great Attitude = Superlative Customer Service. Both elements are critical, but the one that seems more difficult to achieve is the right attitude.

Tom Peters also talks about the US supermarket group, Whole Foods Market. Their philosophy on customer service goes like this:

“We go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy and delight our customers. We want to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping trip. We know that by doing so we turn customers into advocates for our business. Advocates do more than shop with us, they talk about Whole Foods to their friends and others. We want to serve our customers competently, efficiently, knowledgeably and with flair.”

How can they fail to impress if they live up to that statement?

I started thinking about how we stack up on that front. Our customers have stayed with us from our first year of business. We get great feedback on the level of support we provide. We even have clients who tell us how much they like working with us. But, do we do it with ‘flair’? Are we creating advocates for our business?
Our entire business is built on the principle of continuous improvement. From now on we’ll be evaluating out customer service regularly to make sure we’re exceeding customer expectations as often as possible in the pursuit of creating advocates.

There is another aspect of this subject that comes to mind. How do your partnerships and associations affect the quality of your customers’ experiences?

I recall a conversation about two companies who had reached the shortlist of potential service suppliers by means of the fact that they had both “dropped their price significantly” in order to get the business. For some reason the buyer didn’t wonder whether a company prepared to halve their price in order to gain a small amount of business would still be around next year. Even more of a concern was the question of what level of service they would provide their clients and whether it really was worth compromising those relationships for the sake of cutting costs. If the customer experience is the all important differentiator in business today, we all need to be making certain that our customers get superb service from our own team and any associates of partners who are going to represent us.

It’s worth asking: How would your customers describe the experience of doing business with you and your partners?

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