Content seriesView full content series
Are we over-emphasising customer experience at the cost of service?by
Are we suffering from the 'Curse of the Experience Economy'?
Many companies emphasise the experiences they offer customers. They should focus on providing services instead. If they do that, the experience will largely look after itself.
In a nutshell...
According to a recent SuperOffice survey of 2,000 business professionals, almost 50% think that ‘customer experience’ will be the top priority over the next five years, ahead of product and well ahead of price. But if you look at the survey, (and practically all surveys like it), it conflates providing service with facilitating the experience. They are not the same thing. And the differences are important.
Customers have jobs to be done: they want to get to work in the morning, they want to heat their homes, and they want to have a meal in the evening after a long day at work. Services are the things we provide customers to help them get these jobs done: the trains that transport them to their offices, the gas that fuels their central heating and the supermarkets they shop for food in.
According to UK household spending data provided by the ONS, the highest household spending, (after tax, national insurance and council tax), is on:
- Transport with 14% of spending
- Housing, including, rent, maintenance, fuel and power with 13%,
- Food, drink and tobacco with 11%
- Recreation, culture and holidays with 9%
- Restaurants and hotels with 9% of spending.
As this shows, although the majority of household spending is heavily dependent on services, only a minority is dependent on the experiences of using them. And yet, a majority of practitioner discussion today is about customers’ experiences and not on the services that customers interact with companies to use in the first place. I call this the 'Curse of the Experience Economy' (after Pine & Gilmore's book).
The implications should be obvious. Most companies should focus on creating services that help customers get their jobs done faster, easier and better. A small number of companies should focus on providing services AND facilitating the experience customers have of using them. I can think of no companies that can afford to ignore the underlying service and only focus on the experience.
- Understand the different jobs customers are trying to do, and the relative importance they place on different outcomes.
- Design services that help customers get their jobs done faster, easier and better, and support customers while they are doing them. This is something you should control.
- Where a differentiator, facilitate experiences that surround the services and leave customers feeling satisfied. This is something the customer controls, but you still play an important part.
What do you think? Do we overemphasise experience at the cost of service?
- For more details of the SuperOffice survey see: 37 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2022
- For more details of UK Household Spending see: Family spending in the UK: April 2019 to March 2020
This article adapted from a piece originally posted on LinkedIn.
Graham Hill has been a Management Consultant, Interim and Director for over 30 blue-chip companies, in 15 different countries, over the past 30 years. Most of his work has involved building complex service systems, directing their implementation and managing the resulting organisational transformation. He is an acknowledged SME in customer...