customer experience leader - kat cole

Every great business has a foundation comprised of a superior customer experience. It’s what holds everything together during times of turbulence.

I speak with entrepreneurs representing businesses of all sizes and industries on a daily basis. I can confidently say that the majority of these business people aren’t investing their resources to improve the customer experience because they don’t genuinely know what it is or how to define it.

Growing up, when my grandfather recommended that I focus my entrepreneurial efforts on learning customer experience, I equated it to being the same thing as customer service. I figured that customer service was simply something I received while at the grocery store when I needed to pay for my items. Customer experience is different than customer service but one can’t live without the other.

Customer experience is the premeditated design of what your customer experiences when doing business with you from beginning to end.

Now that I’ve studied the operations of some of the most admired companies in the world, I know that customer experience can be what your customers feel, see, taste, hear and smell. It can encompass all of your five senses. Disney captures customers through emotions and how their customers feel when they are at Disneyland. Alec Monopoly has become a mainstream graffiti artist because of what we see. Part of Ben and Jerry’s customer experience is what their customers taste. Michael Buble sells out stadiums across the world because his customers love what they hear. Cinnabon has earned my money through the smell of their cinnamon buns.

Video: This is the difference between customer experience, customer service and customer centricity

Customer experience will lead to customer loyal if you’re consistent

To have loyal customers, you can’t simply have one flagship product or one touch point that makes your customers smile. You must have an operation that delivers on their promises at each interaction. This is why customer experience is so difficult. When you have exceeded the expectations of your customers that now becomes the bare minimum. Apple would not be the most valuable company in the world if it didn’t have a strict focus on customer experience. Sure, they would still have their world class products but I’m confident that their products would not have received the same amount of adoption if their service delivery was poor. Apple designed their stores and enhanced the customer experience propelling them forward and past the competition.

customer experience apple store

Customer experience is a high level initiative that is gaining awareness but still lacks boardroom and management buy-in.

Customer service is the micro interactions you have with your customers.

Customer service can be a friendly and efficient employee at your grocery store. It can also be a company that resolves a complaint immediately rather than after five attempts of contacting them. I equate customer service to micro interactions because often it is the little things that count. It’s the small gestures that a company consistently delivers that makes up part of the entire customer experience.

A micro interaction are the small, subtle, memorable and affordable things that a company does to gain your trust.

Braintree is a world class example of customer service and micro interactions

The other day, I visited Braintree’s website and was delivered amazing customer service after filling out their contact page.


After filling out the contact form, I wasn’t pushed to a typical, “thank you” page. Instead, Braintree designed a page that humanized their brand. Whether the person shown is an actual employee or not is irrelevant. What they have done is given their customers a unique and trustworthy experience by delivering a micro interaction. This also builds peace of mind in that they will deliver on their promise and contact me. For the record, a Braintree team member contacted me the same day.

Entrepreneurs must know the difference between customer experience and customer service

Both customer experience and customer service must live in harmony together for your company to become admired. Once you have identified the difference between the two, you will be in a better position to look at your operation from a more holistic view and create an experience that your customers become loyal to.

What companies are you loyal to because of their customer experience?

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