Customer experience is an all too frequently used word nowadays. People are losing sight of what it really means – replacing the word ‘service’ for ‘experience’ and carrying on as we did five years ago.

I was fortunate enough to work for Telefonica o2 in the middle of the mobile market boom, and for a company that was creating unique customer experiences before the term was even created. Its purpose? To create brand fans. Not to simply impress people with speedy customer service, which was a default position – it created experiences to win brand loyalty.

Here is why:
Occasionally large organisations will mess up. The queue will be that bit too long, the agent not quite trained correctly, or for no apparent reason, a series of events lead to negative customer service. It is proven beyond all doubt that if you have “fans” of your organisation, that you earn forgiveness and understanding when this happens. You get a second chance.

Rather more positively, a unique experience can really blow a customer’s mind and get them talking, or tweeting and win you customers. Here is the critical part – stand out customer experience keeps your customers or wins you customers. There is no middle ground – that is just customer service.
I ask every business owner that I engage with two questions;

  1. When was the last time you bought something from your top three competitors to understand if they are creating experiences or just serving customers?
  2. Tell me one thing your company does that if I interacted with you as a customer would blow me away and make me tell five friends?

It’s an acid test. If you aren’t scared of what your competitors might be doing, then you see service and experience as the same thing. If you have nothing that will wow me, you are just serving your customers, you are not creating an experience.

The third and final question – when was the last time your technology partners sat in front of you and asked you question 1 & 2? If never, you have suppliers not partners and you need to address this. Fast.