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Customer Experience vs Customer Service: What You Need to Know

November 12, 2020 / Comments (0)

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I am currently working with a cold start-up in the US, who is going to operate in the real estate sector, which is a highly competitive industry and one that can be extremely lucrative.

Real estate in the US is big business and the commissions that some brokers earn can be eye-watering and I used to love watching the reality tv show, million dollar listing that covers the adventures of real estate brokers hustling for business and competing fiercely with each other to land the most prestigious clients.

The guy I am working with is a young entrepreneur who is looking to disrupt the industry by offering an exclusive, customized, and innovative service…that’s all I can really say right now because it hasn’t launched yet and we are in the fine-tuning process, but I will reveal all in the future!

The other day we were discussing the subject of customer experience vs customer service and how important it is to distinguish between the two.

That’s what prompted me to write this post.

I lived in the US for ten years and I was completely spoiled by the high-levels of customer service I received compared to living here in the UK and returning back 6 years ago, nothing much has really changed apart from the “Americanisms” that I here from Brits who are, for some reason, eager to imitate their American cousins.

If only our industry could imitate the levels of customer service and focus on giving their customers the best possible customer experience.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of simply focusing on customer service and thinking of it as a division within a business, which of course it is, but fail to recognize that it is just one part of the overall customer experience.

So what exactly is “customer experience?”

Customer experience is the entire impression that a buyer has with each and every interaction they have as they progress through the buying journey.

But for me, it goes much deeper — it involves each and everyone who interacts with your company, irrespective of whether they buy or not and if your company is committed to delivering the best customer experience, then it will have a positive as well as a profitable impact on the business as a whole.

That is why we are spending so much time ensuring we create the finest customer experience and service levels when we launch the real estate company.

Why customer experience is so important

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Let me give you a specific example of what I term customer experience:

One of my favorite restaurants in the world is Three Forks Steakhouse in Dallas, Texas.

I first walked into this restaurant way back in 1999 and I had my last meal there just before I left Dallas to return back to the UK in 2015.

Now, I have taken family, friends, and very important clients to this lovely steakhouse and can honestly tell you that I have never had a bad meal…and I will tell you also that I have never had bad service there in the sixteen years I have been going to the restaurant.

But let’s move away from the service and food for a second and talk about the overall experience — the decor is amazing and spacious, the cutlery and glasses are spotless and there is a friendly welcome from each and every person who works there, no matter whether you are talking to the executive chef, floor managers or waitstaff.

In simple terms, this is what creates an overall customer experience and no, I am not getting paid to write this…I just like to give a shout-out to the companies that really go above and beyond.

And here is another part of the story — I flew to Dallas from London one year and arrived on a Monday afternoon. I did what I normally do and head to one of two places, three forks or the fantastic Brazillian restaurant Fogo, de Chao.

It could have been either as arriving in the country, I am desperate to get some really tasty beef and this time it was straight to three forks.

Someone looked at me from the bar and came over asking if I was on the American Airlines flight that landed from Heathrow that afternoon, to which I told him I was — he introduced himself as Gene Street, who was the then owner of the restaurant.

After exchanging a few words, he took out his business card, looking me straight in the eye telling me that he wanted my business, and wrote his personal cellphone number on the back telling me to call him if I ever need a table.

I love the way you can be straightforward and upfront when it comes to doing business in the US and there is really no better place to conduct business.

I thanked him and told him I would, then settled down to the meal. The next time I visited the restaurant was on a Saturday evening and after being told the restaurant was fully booked, I took Mr. Street up on his offer and he delivered.

Now considering that they have no shortage of celebrity guests and their revenues at that time were around $12m per year, why did he go that extra mile for yours truly, who was not even living in the country at that point?

He wanted to deliver the ultimate customer experience as well as service and it worked as I was a regular from that moment.

The key point here is that with three forks, every customer “touchpoint” is taken care of and it goes way beyond pure customer service.

Whatever business you are in, you must remember that your customer experience goes deeper than pure customer service, which should be excellent as well.

You are ensuring that each and every customer interaction is the best it can be and this will provide the all-important difference between you and your competitors.

Dallas is certainly a place to visit if you enjoy the finest steaks and there are no shortages of steakhouses in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex…but for me, three forks delivered that bit “extra.”

Customer experience journey

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Let’s go back to my real estate start-up here and talk about how we mapped out the customer experience journey.

Our first task was to look at each of the customer “touchpoints” and this is where our company and brand will be visible to the market and hopefully start people on the journey to becoming a life-long customer.

That is the ultimate goal.

We looked at each and every possible situation where someone could see our brand — social media, social media marketing, traditional marketing, word-of-mouth, and through simply stumbling across us.

Then we made sure that no matter how the first interaction came, they would all see exactly the same message.

Your message is the foundation of your entire customer experience and your customer journey and I talk about it in more detail in this article:

“The Importance of Your Personal and Business Marketing Message.”

It should “hook” your visitor and compel them to want more information and it should demonstrate the “feel” of your company to back-up the tangible benefit they will receive.

One thing I can tell you about this new venture is that the CEO, who I am working with, will put his cellphone number out there and talk to people, plus he will treat each customer the same, whether their transaction is a multi-million dollar home or a small apartment rental.

The next thing we talked about was how we can make it as simple and easy as possible for the customer whether they are buying a vacation home, renting an apartment, or re-locating their commercial offices — the real estate world can be complex and that leads to stressful situations, some of which I have experienced personally when buying in the US market.

Ultimately, we have mapped out a customer journey that allows anyone to start the journey from multiple entrance points and then be taken seamlessly through each stage of becoming a paying customer but allows them to leave the process and re-enter whenever they choose.

This is why it amazes me when I see the now all-to-familiar Internet marketing pitches that tell you their offer is only available until midnight on a specific date, to then remove it but launch it again the following week.

I am tired of this type of approach and so is the market — this is why you are seeing so many reductions in pricing from the culprits because people are not falling for the old sales and marketing tricks and gimmicks — they are demanding a new and more honest, transparent level of sales and service.

Wouldn’t it be a better idea to offer a new pricing model and keep it there, leaving the potential customer to jump in and take the offer when they felt comfortable?

I think so.

Marketers and in particular Internet marketers have preyed on the vulnerable and many of them will make taking your hard-earned cash a priority rather than delivering you a great customer experience and until people wake up, they will continue to do so.

It is not hard to deliver an amazing customer experience, you just have to be extremely conscious of each and every way potential and existing customers will be likely to interact with you.

Many businesses simply set up a customer services department and expect them to handle customers who have questions or problems but remember my favorite restaurant and my first interaction with the owner.

There were no problems to solve, nor questions about the restaurant, but that first interaction made me become a regular customer of that restaurant for many years and I also had no hesitation in recommending it to anyone.

What’s more important is that I am here today, 6 years from leaving Dallas and I am still talking about them!

If you would like to talk more about this and gain some more insight into how you can deliver the best customer experience, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me:

neiljcfranklin@gmail.com

Neil Franklin

Neil Franklin-Entrepreneur

Last modified: November 12, 2020

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