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The Three Sides Of Customer Experience

As boarding time came and went, it was clear that the flight wasn’t about to depart on time. The huge crowd of expectant passengers at the gate began to get restless. By the time the first announcement was made things were getting heated and when the call to collect refreshment vouchers went out resigned passengers had a million and one questions to ask.

In the Business Lounge, things were a little uglier. Executives with important deadlines, meetings to attend or connections to make competed for the attention of the one customer service representative who was handling the situation. She tried to talk them down with as much information as possible—it didn’t help. Here’s why.

There are three elements at play in every service delivery situation:

1. Expectation.
2. Logistics.
3. Emotion.

In business we do reasonably well at framing expectations and communicating logistics. We competently communicate that this is what you paid for and this is what you will get, where and when. Where we fall down is dealing with the third and perhaps most important element—our customer’s emotions. Fear is a powerful thing and no amount of explanation, reason and logic can counteract its effect, which is why we need to train for empathy. This is hard, since the person dealing with the crisis might experience it three times every week—the customer only experiences it acutely, today and that’s why her reaction and her worldview seem unreasonable.

In any customer service situation ask yourself:

“How would I be feeling if this were me?”
“How would I be reacting right now?”
“What would I be saying and doing?”

You might find that you’re closer to your customers than you think.

Image by Rob M.

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