Who Really IS the Customer in “Customer Experience”?
As people who identify ourselves as Customer Experience Experts we have a tendency to evaluate our own experiences as customers with every interaction - from a call to tech support to the bell hop at a hotel, the cashier at the grocery store or the barista at our favorite coffee shop. All companies have more than one customer and more than one customer type. A recent interaction with a leasing agency caused me to look at Customer Experience as a complex and delicate balance and not a straightforward assessment of this call, this interaction, or even the experiences of a single customer over the lifetime of their relationship with a company. My daughter was having troubles with the management company at her first apartment. She works second shift and they kept sending maintenance to her door at 8:00am. When I called the office and explained the situation the (very polite) agent explained to me that their customers are the property owners, not the tenants and they needed to adhere to the wishes of the property owners even if it inconvenienced the tenants. Hmmmm. The company had defined their “customer” very narrowly and as a result were not taking into account how their policies impacted a group of people who directly impact their revenue stream and their reputation in the marketplace, and by default, the revenue and reputation of the people they did consider customers. As the Customer Experience Experts we have an opportunity to help our clients identify, define and serve all of their customers, not just their obvious customers. Do we view our and our clients’ processes and policies from the business point of view, the typical customer’s point of view, multiple customer points of view or a combination? Who are our clients’ “invisible” customers and how are we helping to shine a light on these valuable experiences?