Thinking about customer experience

What do you experience when you’re a customer?

At the end of last week, I was busy at lunchtime and realised mid-afternoon that I was quite hungry. I decided to treat myself to a take-away salad from a local cafe :)

But when I walked in I was told:

“We’ve stopped serving, it’s 5 to 3”

The comment threw me a bit, especially as I hadn’t asked the time…(!)

(I don’t wear a watch but according to my phone, it was 14:51…)

So I walked away feeling a bit disappointed and frustrated. I’d been imagining the lunch I would have, as I approached the cafe, and had really been looking forward to it!

We ‘rate’ companies based on our experiences

The following day I contacted a few local companies (I won’t mention names!) to set up an appointment – and had quite a different experience as a (potential) customer from each one…

It was a personal, not a business, appointment so I was doing this on a weekend. I checked out a couple of websites on Saturday afternoon, called a few phone numbers (left a message on each), and filled in the contact forms on the websites as well (taking the ‘belt and braces’ approach!)

The result…

One company called me back the same day and again on the Sunday with an update.

A second company called me back on the Sunday.

A third company called me back on the Monday – and the first thing I had to do was give all the details I’d entered on the website contact form… (I had been unable to submit the form because of an error…)

Our customer experience influences our decisions

I’ve had similar experiences choosing suppliers for my business.

I’ve had very different customer experiences from different potential suppliers when having initial consultations and receiving proposals.

My experience influenced my decisions.

I didn’t choose the supplier who seemed critical of my business; I didn’t choose the supplier whose proposal was littered with typos…(!)

I chose the supplier who got in touch quickly, who I ‘clicked’ with straight away, who asked me all the right questions, who sent me a quote promptly…

What customer experience do you want to deliver?

Here are some questions I’ve asked individuals and teams who are looking to improve the experience of their customers:

What customer experience do you want to deliver?
How do you want your customers to feel?
What emotions are you trying to evoke in your customers? 

What are your customers experiencing today?

Try this exercise:

Considering both logical and emotional thinking…

What do your customers experience when they first interact with you…

…in person?
…online? (website, social media, …)
…through your materials? (business card, leaflets, articles, …)
…on the phone?
…by message? (via your website, voicemail, email, direct message, …)

What do your customers experience…

…when arranging/agreeing the work?
…when scheduling the work?
…during ‘delivery’?
…when receiving an invoice?

What do your customers experience…

…when they give you feedback?
…when they refer you?
…when they want to continue?
…if they’re not satisfied…?

What would you like your customers to experience?

What customer experience would you like to give?

How would you like your customers to feel through the touchpoints above?
What would you like them to experience?
What would be the ideal journey (through your processes) for your customers?

How could you delight your customers?

Once your customers are already satisfied, you’re meeting their expectations, how could you delight your customers?

A word of caution, sometimes an attempt to delight customers can backfire…

It’s several years now since I travelled to Boston for work, but I still remember checking in at a well-known hotel chain, after a long flight (which included being given a snack box full of more sugary junk food than you could ever want!), hands full with luggage, room key etc., struggling to persuade the receptionist that:

“No, I do not want a warm, giant cookie…Thank you!”

Similarly, I don’t want a 2-litre bottle of Coke with a takeaway…

(Is it just me?!)

However, I certainly was delighted when our hotel in Italy opened up their breakfast service at 5:30am so that we could eat and have a hot drink before catching our early coach for a long transfer to the airport at the end of our skiing holiday :)

What are your customers experiencing?

What about you? What do your customers experience?

Let me know by adding your comments below.

To understand what your customers are experiencing currently (no matter the size of your business) and to improve their customer experience, please get in touch via the contact form or call me on +44 7526 740486.

[To get your free copy of the eBook ’10 questions to ask yourself about your business’ with exercises like the ones above, sign up for my fortnightly newsletter using the sign up box on the top right of this page, or at the foot of the page if you’re viewing on a mobile device.]

Best wishes!


6 replies
  1. Carol Hanson
    Carol Hanson says:

    Great advice. Yep I’m with you all the way on this – especially the ‘upsell’ from companies when I go to buy one thing and they try to sell me stuff I neither want nor need.

    • Sian Rowsell
      Sian Rowsell says:

      Thanks Carol! Yes, sometimes a pushy ‘upsell’ can ruin the experience of buying what I actually wanted or needed! Sian


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