There is no doubt that consumer directed care has placed our service standards under the spotlight. In a market place that is becoming more crowded and noisy, finding that special ‘something’ to attract and retain our customers has become a necessity for survival rather than a ‘nice to have’. With so much focus on packaging effective and efficient products and services, the disability sector has come to the harsh realisation that ‘commercialisation’ and ‘bottom line’ results are now standard items on the strategic agenda. The attraction and retention of our customers has become a vital part of our organisation’s success.
To keep our doors open we need customers that are satisfied to the point where they are happy to re-engage with us, time and time again. Providing great customer service, it now seems, is not enough. Customers have developed and now demand sophisticated service levels. As providers, we need to respond by changing the game plan if we are going to be in with a sporting chance. Due to this raising of the bar, great customer service is now an expected minimum. For our customers to become loyal, they are looking for something extra on the table to lure them back at least one more time. For loyalty to develop, customers need to have a positive experience with positive emotions. It is these positive emotions that underpin customer experiences that then lead to customer loyalty. There is a continuum that exists between the two outlined below. Have a quick check of your service standards and see where you lie on the continuum.
So customer service and customer experience are both the same sort of thing right? Yes, in a nutshell that is right, however here are some things to think about:
- having great service doesn’t guarantee a great experience
- great customer service is a precursor to great customer experience
- you can have great customer service without customer experience
- you can’t have customer experience without great customer service to start with
- it’s a fair assumption that most customers want great service
- it’s an unfair assumption that all customers want customer experience
So where does this leave us? Quite simply we need to provide great service AND experience. As providers, the ultimate service platform is for our customers to determine their level of engagement with us. If they prefer to engage quickly with us and then get out, then we need to accommodate that. If they want all the bells and whistles to have a great experience, we need to accommodate that too. It is this customer choice which leads us to developing the flexibility of providing great customer service AND great customer experiences.
If you would like to know more about customer experience for your organisation, please contact our consulting team.
Former Senior HR Consultant