Superior customer experiences
I decided to request an offer to have our windows replaced. I selected a company and called them. A young man answered and asked me to provide more detailed information about the windows. I received their offer the following morning. In addition to specifying the prices and delivery time, it stated that they would come and measure the windows before placing an order. They asked whether the following day was OK. It certainly was. The delivery time would be two weeks and they would email me once the windows had arrived. They did, and asked whether they could come and install the windows at 8 a.m. in two days’ time. Certainly. The next morning they called to ask whether they could come in the evening, as they were busy with an urgent project. They would not charge extra for the evening work. That was fine with me. The windows were installed, and I received their invoice two days later, exactly as agreed. They also emailed to ask me whether everything was fine and whether I was happy with their work. This was an excellent customer experience, and they managed the situation perfectly. I was happy to pay the bill.
A customer experience consists of the total service provided by a company. Over the course of time, the word “customer” has been combined with other, often trendy words. The same applies to the word “service”. As a customer experience consists of service, I will focus on that aspect.
From service to service design and self-service
What does “service” actually mean? According to one definition, the word is almost always paired with products, meaning that service is at least partly immaterial. It can be part of a process, and it is often consumed at the same time as it is produced. In some cases, the customer participates in producing the service.
A service always involves a feeling: good or bad, or something in between. Can a service be something other than a product and performance? Can it exist outside the good–bad continuum? Today, there is much talk about the service experience, which should be improved continuously by means of service design, for example. This refers to a longer process – to a series of events instead of a single service situation. In other words, a service experience involves more than simply ensuring that the service provided to the customer is as good as possible and that they are left with a positive image of the company and the employee producing the service.
Service experiences can be created in many ways. In many cases, customers in a café participate in producing a customer experience, often more so than the employees. This is also known as self-service. Can self-service produce a good customer experience? Yes, in some cases. It would be easy to assume that customers benefit financially from reduced service or completely outsourced service, but this is not always true. Nevertheless, effortlessness, independence or pleasant conditions can create a good customer experience.
Customer experience in the construction industry
Customers often need help with a diverse range of issues related to maintenance, service, repair and construction. In any case, they need to have a problem resolved or a task completed. One contact is usually not enough. Instead, several people provide the customer with services and thereby contribute to the customer experience.
In such cases, the customer experience consists of concrete action, repair or maintenance measures, telephone service, an offer and the related pricing, sales, several contacts and invoicing. None of these measures is insignificant – they are all part of a good or bad customer experience. Customers prefer to buy services from companies that create added value and good customer experiences.
Elements of a good customer experience
What creates a good customer experience? It depends on several factors, such as the situation, customer, product, mood and the employee providing the service. Similarly, many factors affect the customer experience – so many that they are almost impossible to describe. It is much easier to define how a customer experience can be ruined. The most certain way is to not listen to the customer and to not pay much attention to their messages or consider them important.
The customer experience is always subjective and is based on the service provided by the company and the related functions and operations. For this reason, customer feedback must not be underestimated and must be taken seriously and respectfully. After all, the customer can always choose not to use the service. According to studies, a satisfied customer shares their good experience with three people on average, whereas a dissatisfied or disappointed customer shares their bad experience with eleven people. Bad news travels particularly fast on social media, but social media at its best also reinforces positive messages and perceptions.
A good customer experience does not require great effort; knowledge, skills and the right attitude are enough. When we know what we would like to experience as a customer, it is easy to create good customer experiences for others.
The writer is Business Area Director for Property Services at Are. In his opinion, the sound of sausages cooking on the barbecue is by far the best customer experience in the summer.