Martin Summerhayes (martinsummerhay) wrote,
Martin Summerhayes

Customer Delivery v’s Customer Service v’s Customer Experience? What is the difference?

“If all it takes is an angry stranger to ruin your day, what are you going to do if something really serious happens? Why give someone else control of your life like that?” ― Jeffrey Gitomer, Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless Customer Loyalty Is Priceless

In the previous article in this Customer Service thread, I talked about putting your complexity of service on your customers.

That you should think about how the customers gains access to a particular service; get into the customers “shoes” and walk through that experience. I wanted to expand on this by talking about three separate and completely different approaches that you can take related to how you serve your customers.

The question is - What is the difference for you between, Customer Delivery, Customer Service and Customer Experience? If, as you read the definitions, you disagree, please feel free to comment. Likewise, if you support the different definitions and can think of more examples, please add to the comments section below.

I want to give you definitions for each and then a real world example that I have recently encountered to demonstrate why it is important to think about this.

Delivery: The carrying and turning over of letters, goods, etc., to a designated recipient or recipients; giving up or handing over; surrender.

Service: An act of helpful activity; help; aid; to do someone a service; the supplying or supplier of utilities or commodities, as maintenance, repair, etc.:
The manufacturer guarantees service and parts.

Experience: A particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something:
the process or fact of personally, encountering, or undergoing something:

Bruce Temkin talks about the difference between customer service and customer experience - you might like to check out his article on it at:

Real World example: I want to use a real world example that all of us who drive cars experiences on an ongoing basis, that of filling your car with fuel. You would think that such a simple task of turning up to a petrol station; filling your car with fuel, paying for the fuel and then driving off could be so mired in conflicting customer service experiences. Let's go back to the three definitions and I’ll explain based on the past week's experiences I’ve had:

NOTE: I have described below my take on the differences in real life between delivery, service and experience. As you read these, you might disagree and feel one of the other examples fits more closely to your perception. That is absolutely fine. As I mentioned before, please add your comments at the end.

Customer Delivery: There is a local petrol station near me that is completely self service. There is no shop on the forecourt and no assistant at all. It offers cheap fuel, so it is always popular. You turn up, put your credit / debit card in the petrol pump self service card machine, enter your pin and the pump is then activated to deliver up to £99 of fuel. You then get the option to get a receipt before driving off. Great you would think? Relatively fast, hassle free and cheap fuel. But what happens when the card gets stuck in the machine? Or there are not receipts available? Chaos. This is what happened this week.

The person in the car in front, got their card stuck in the machine, so I had to then back up and try to get into another queue for fuel. Lots of arm waving, honking of horns, but eventually got to a pump. Out, card in, pin entered, fuel pump activated, Bingo, fuel! Except, there was no receipt available. Now if you claim for mileage as part of your business, like I do, you need receipts to make claims and also for the tax man. No receipts, no claim. Remember no assistance available either, so that was £40 of petrol claim lost. As I drove off, the person was still waiting for someone to come from the main supermarket to help them retrieve their card from the machine.

Customer Service: A few days later and many miles driven, I realised that I’d have to top up again. This time, I chose a different petrol station, with a shop and shop staff. This meant I could just turn up, fuel up and then pay in the shop and get on my way. This is exactly what I did. And that is when I noticed that there was a new attendant manning the till. He was young, very polite and helpful. Why did I notice this? The customer in front asked for cigarettes, he politely asked if she “wanted a lighter to go with the cigarettes” and the answer was “yes, please”. When it came to my turn, he was the one who asked if I “wanted a VAT receipt” rather than me having to ask. “Yes, please” was my answer and as he handed over the receipt he then said “drive safe and have a great day”. Now that is what I call service.

Customer Experience: Finally, a completely different type of car fuel experience. One you do not get very often here in the UK, though you might get it in other countries. The attendant on the forecourt. There is a petrol station in my local village. It is not open 24 hours a day, but from 7am till 7pm six days a week. There is an attendant that works from a small booth, where you pay for your fuel and guess what? You drive up, he comes over, asks what you would like and he fills your car for you.You have to get out to pay the bill, but a completely different type of experience. And it is an experience. He talks to you, asks how you are. Regulars, and there are many regulars, he knows by name. He also notices if there are things wrong, like low type pressures, etc.

And the cost of this experience? I did the maths on the price per litre of fuel between the three and the results were as follows:-

Cheapest Fuel - Complete Self Service @ £1.11 per litre
Middle priced Fuel - forecourt attended @ £1.12 per litre - the best customer experience
Most expensive Fuel - the shop and attendant @ £1.16 per litre

My take on the three experiences is that great customer experience does not have to cost a lot, but if you get it right, your customers will keep coming back.

I leave you with the following quote……...

“When you put yourself in the customer’s shoes and begin your dialog from there, an immediate connection develops that stems beyond basic commerce and encourages loyalty.” ― Steve Maraboli

Tags: bruce temkin, customer experience design, customer service, steve maraboli, work

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