The importance of the customer experience

There’s a world of difference between delivering a service and a providing a great experience. Decent service is what we expect (although we’re often disappointed). But when the provider goes beyond what’s reasonably expected…that’s a great ‘experience’.

I have a thing about cafes. As a mobile worker I’m in them all the time and although the COFFEE is often fine, the experience is frequently poor. And it’s mostly down to the staff. Take this recent visit to a cafe in Lytham St Annes with my mother:

We walked in and were not greeted.

It wasn’t clear whether we ordered at the counter or someone would take our order at the table.

The table was dirty even though there were two (young) staff on and very few customers.

After enquiring, I ordered two coffees at the counter, but the machine was broken. Tea it was then. “That’s £4 please.” (no attempt to upsell – we were hungry too). I ordered some cheesecake and a caramel slice (we have sweet teeth). More money taken, I sat down.

The waiter (hardly an apt description) brought the food and some cutlery but plonked them down without so much as a word. The tea arrived, same treatment. As we left the waitress walked past us to clean the table, made eye contact but didn’t say goodbye. I looked back again, but no engagement.

It was the end of the day, they were probably fed up and bored but the ‘experience’ was negative. Nothing to do with the drink, the food, the furniture or the decor. Everything to do with the staff.

Maybe it’s just me but this thing about engaging with customers is so important. My 10 year old son had a milkshake with me the other day and observed how he’d had “good customer service” (bless him). You can spend what you like on the infrastructure but it’s the people that make a business what it is. That’s the essence of ‘the experience’.

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