There is little argument from most people in business that customer demand is far greater today than in times past. There is also general agreement that customer demands and expectations will continue to rise over the years ahead.

Given that many businesses are struggling to meet current demands, a major challenge facing business operators is knowing and deciding what strategies and systems to employ to best meet those increasing demands.

A key distinction that often gets missed when developing those future plans, is the difference between customer service and customer experience.

In simple terms, customer service is what a business gives; customer experience is what a customer receives. They are NOT interchangeable terms; they are in fact opposite ends of the service spectrum.

Customer experience is all about perceptions. It’s how your customers perceive their interactions with your organisation. Sadly, there is often an enormous gap between what businesses believe they are delivering, versus what customers report receiving. I call it the EPG … the Experience Perception Gap.

Business development strategies need to embrace a detailed understanding of how customers perceive their experiences at three separate levels. I call them your three abilities; capability (your ability to meet customer needs), accessibility (making it easy for customers to do business with you), and enjoyability (the pleasure of doing business with you).

Level one is quite simply having the capacity, capability and competence to provide the exact product or service that your customer demands. It’s ensuring you have the right product, model, colour and size in stock; it’s about having people with the right skills, knowledge and experience, fully trained to provide expert service as and when required.

Level two is the about the ease with which your customers can do business with you. Being accessible via multiple channels, opening hours that suit, adequate availability of trained staff, a range of payment and delivery options, efficient after sales back-up and replacement warranties and service guarantees.

Level three is about the enjoyment customers experience during the process of doing business with you. It’s about whether or not your customers actually love doing business with you, your organisation and your people. It’s about how you make your customers feel special.

Customer experience is at the centre of everything you do; how you conduct your business; your ethics and values; how your people behave and engage with your customers and each other; the value that your products and services deliver; what your brand stands for in the marketplace.

Customer experience is the single greatest predictor of your business success; it is also your number one competitive advantage.

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Professional Speaker and Business Coach Graham Harvey is the bestselling author of Seducing the Vigilante Customer: 101 winning
strategies to attract and retain happy customers and healthy profits. He is recognised as one of Australasia’s foremost thought leaders on Service Design, Customer Experience and Relationship Marketing.

Graham Harvey BCom FAIM CSP
Service EQ                                       Telephone: (Aust) 0403 262 988
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