Customer Service : not what you think

Customer Service : not what you think

There is an important distinction between customer service and customer experience that is often lost in translation. 

It is not too dissimilar to the notion of ‘brand’ in marketing parlance. The cadre of corporate slashies (consultant/ guru/ influencers) see brands as something that can be managed and corporations have brand managers tasked with that responsibility. Logos can be created and managed, Brand communications can be managed. Tag lines can be tweaked. But a brand is whatever a customer thinks it is.

Volvo has tried, at least since 1993, been trying to claim to be innovative, sporty, space-age, fun and all the usual automotive cliches. But to this day people still overwhelmingly associate Volvos with being ‘boring but safe’.


Just like brands are the associations CONSUMERS have about your product/ service, so are experiences the CONSUMER’S EMOTIONS and associations and memories of a particular interaction.

People aren’t given experiences, they have experiences. As a retailer or a marketer, you cannot control or create that experience. You can offer an activity that induces an experience, but you can’t make the experience.

When people walk through a wood; one may be awestruck, another will be fearful. Another may be lonely and yet another will be bored.

There is no doubt that consumers in affluent societies, tend to value experiential elements as much or more than physical elements, simply because they already have their physical needs covered. If you have a lot of money, you have enough TV’s, so it is obvious you will then value a holiday more than a TV. 

Clearly, that does not apply to ALL demographic segments in a society, but assuming that you are serving that segment, then you are offering opportunities/ environments for people to have experiences. 

The travel agent provides the logistics to get to the Taj Mahal, but can’t control the tourist’s actual experience of it.

Now, if the slashies are to believed, all people value experiences, and that means the process of buying a ticket must be ‘an experience’ in some way. It is a complete crock, because they have conflated the emotions people desire to have with the solution they offer.

If you are a travel agent, or heaven forbid, a luggage company or whatever associated travel product, I can assure that 95% of people do NOT want to have a relationship with you and they don’t want to have a ‘brand conversation’ with you. What they need is for you do your thing (book the ticket, make the arrangements etc etc professionally) with courtesy and efficiency at the lowest possible reasonable cost.They don’t want any pain. That’s all. They don’t need your love, they don’t need the trumpets to sound when they enter the shop, they don’t need to be hugged or given a pet monkey or a pedicure while they wait.

What customers want is for you to fulfil a need they have. You organise your entire business around fulfilling that need: it is called a business model. Then you execute professionally, efficiently and with proper consideration that you are dealing with  human beings. 

As such, civility and common sense is in all likelihood all that reasonable customers expect. As for the unreasonable customers; well, they are better off with your competitor anyway.

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