Differentiating Customer Experience

My wife and I recently went to Pho 1 here in Richmond for a Vietnamese dinner. We have known about food and experience for some time. In fact, the experience is reminiscent of what I have experienced in small towns where everyone knows everyone, but in a way that makes you feel at home, not in a soap opera.

Soon after our dinner I noticed this restaurant critic’s review:

As we walked to the door, no fewer than four employees thanked us for stopping in. Pho 1 Grill isn’t serving a menu you can’t get elsewhere in town, but the inviting atmosphere and genuine staff make it worth a visit whether you live in the area or not. No matter what type of day you’ve had, you’ll leave feeling a little brighter. By Dana Craigs Special Correspondent Richmond Times Dispatch

Differentiating Customer Experience

This review suggests that there is nothing really remarkable about the food. It’s not bad, it’s average; however, it’s worth going to this particular restaurant because of the experience.

In this case, a good customer experience elevates an ordinary product offering transforming it into a memorable experience; the kind that trigger recommendations.

Customer Experience vs Customer Service

Sometimes I am asked if customer experience and customer service are synonymous. In fact they are often used interchangeably. But they are not the same thing.

Customer experience is much broader than customer service. Customer service is a part of customer experience, but the experience has to do with every aspect of interacting with the brand.

In this instance it started with a friendly staff, a staff that greeted and welcomed the guests the moment they entered. I think about how often I am seated at a restaurant without a greeting and left waiting, wondering if a server has even been assigned to me.

But it’s more than just a greeting, it’s helping by offering suggestions or making sure water glasses are refilled. In a word, it’s attentiveness.

Delivering a Winning Customer Experience

I don’t think customer experience can overcome a poor product or service offering. What I am saying is that a memorable customer experience can compensate for a product or service that is average by comparison to your competition.

So how do you create this kind of customer experience?

It begins with culture, training and careful monitoring. It’s part of a company’s DNA. As I stated earlier, it’s attentiveness to the needs and wants of customers. It’s attitude, they way you and your associates provide the product or service.

In fact, it makes such an impact on the food critic in this instance that not even being cut off in traffic can destroy the ambiance created in the restaurant. High praise!

You can’t manufacture this kind of ambiance. First you have to hire the right kind of people. Then you must create an atmosphere that encourages and expects this level of commitment towards the expressed goal of an atmosphere that is inviting enough for your customers to want to share and experience on a regular basis.

Above all, it’s a mindset where customers are your guests and they feel treated as such.

Have you experienced memorable customer service? Tell me about it.