Customer experience and comparative satisfaction

I’m just back from a weekend of dance and fun, that involved my first time in a (literal) saddle. By all accounts, it should have been memorable. My mind held a wealth of reading and imagery associated with being on horseback, from the Old West to riding to hounds in regency England that rendered the occasion both exciting and a bit awe-inspiring. And yet…

ImageThere were five of us riding at the same time, of which four were sitting a horse for the first time and learning how to hold the reins and “tell” the horse where to go. My mare was gentle, and all too prone to following another mare, so while I was going in circles, atop a horse that was being led by an elderly stable hand, I could hear the conversation going on between my friend on the other horse, and the man accompanying her. She was being instructed in holding the reins, connecting with the horse’s mouth and proper posture. All the while, the man leading my horse kept walking in circles behind the plucky mare that my friend was already managing alone. She rode, while I felt like a toddler on training wheels.

I stopped to analyze my frustration.

And I realized that it sprang from perceiving that someone else received more value for the same amount of money. The perception that I wasn’t getting a service as good as someone else was enjoying, overshadowed the fact that the quality of the service I was getting was intrinsically good.

Hence today’s bit of insight:

1. The quality of service must be equal and constant, and equally paying customers should get roughly the same level of (good) service.

2. If there is preferential treatment, there should be a clear and discernible reason (membership, fidelity, level of expenditure) and access to preferential treatment should be clearly explained.

Otherwise, the customers will perceive a lack of fairness that will affect their overall experience. And, as we live in the experience economy, we all know that undermining the quality of the customer experience is a sure fire way to fail.

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