Ingredients for a great customer experience

Last updated on October 21, 2021

“Nobody owns the customer, but someone always owns the moment"1.

So said Walt Disney Vice-President Scott Hudgins about the ‘defining moment’. In customer service terms, it can be thought of any point in time when your customer has an opportunity to evaluate how well you’ve met their expectations.

It may not always be easy, but customer-facing organisations need to understand the right moments within a customer’s journey when they can surpass their expectations and ‘surprise and delight’ them.

What steps can frontline staff at car dealerships take to provide truly outstanding experiences at each and every moment in the customer journey?

David Pisker, Head of Customer Experience at retailer Officeworks, says companies can benefit by taking inspiration from other businesses and other industries. Customer-service learnings from the office supplies sector can just as readily be applied to other retail-based sectors such as vehicle sales.

First and foremost, Pisker says his company is unafraid to put its relationships with its customers at the core of its business model.

“The value of our business comes from the customers that we engage in and the experiences that we give them, rather than the products that we sell,” he says2.

Pisker, who has over two decades’ experience delivering customer-focused solutions across the retail, automotive and other sectors, says we are moving into the ‘age of the customer’.

Contrary to popular belief, Pisker says, a satisfying customer experience isn’t derived from the product or service sold, but in the positive interaction had with the salesperson.

Prioritising the customer relationship above the purely transactional is just one of several philosophies he has helped instill in the Officeworks staff group. He says that the following can also help improve levels of customer satisfaction.

  • Anchor confidence in the customer experience
    Transactions with customers shouldn’t just be friction-free and easy, they should enable the customer to feel confident in their purchase decision, confident when they walk out of the store and happy with their purchase.
  • Take inspiration from anywhere
    There’s no such thing as an original idea, Pisker says. Most of Officeworks’ innovations are inspired by taking ideas from a variety of sources. The key is to think outside of the box when it comes to learning how to delight your customers.
  • Share good ideas with the wider team
    Don’t keep clever ideas to yourself. Share your insights with other members of staff and be receptive to their insights, too.
  • Make every effort to ‘close the loop’
    ‘Closing the loop’ requires listening to what a customer has to say and figuring out how to solve any problem they may have. Doing so shows that you have listened to the customer, acknowledged that they have an issue and made an active effort to address the root cause. Following through with a solution to a customer problem, even weeks after having an interaction with them, can help strengthen positive relationships with customers and help mend broken ones2.

Breaking your service interaction with your customers into a series of defining moments means you can aim to exceed your customers’ expectations at every step of their journey. Determine which are the most important and put all your efforts into making those experiences extraordinary in your customers’ eyes.

Once you’ve set the bar high, keep it there. If you impressed your customer with your first interaction with them, they’ll be expecting equally dazzling levels of service with every interaction thereafter. Arm them with confidence and make every effort to address any pain points they’re experiencing

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your customers and be prepared to make a course correction if necessary. While all of us are fallible, it costs nothing for us to learn from our errors.

  1., 'Nobody Owns the Customer, But Someone Always Owns the Moment.' (24 October 2022) 
  2. Customer Experience Leaders’ podcast – How to stay relevant in the age of the customer (Apple podcasts)

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