It’s fascinating to see how industry after industry is becoming more commoditized — from car rental to hotel rooms and airline seats. Even home and auto insurance, banking and investment services are more commoditized than before.
Typically, products and services in a commoditized sector are quite similar — in distribution, relationship to customers, pricing and presentation. Variances may result from differences in demand or market segments, as well as differences in brand, marketing and revenue strategies. Affinity programs may also be a factor, although they are diminishing in value and increasingly difficult to navigate.
In this environment, people and process typically have the greater impact on customer experience, ergo loyalty (retention) and advocacy. As such, customer experience becomes a critical driver for success. The voice of the customer takes on greater significance.
A beginning point is to gain greater clarity in the distinction between customer service and customer experience. Customer service is more static, while customer experience is more dynamic. Service comprises the various elements or steps in the process of delivery, how well employees execute those steps, and how each step and the people affect the service level received by the customer.
Customer experience concerns the effectiveness of these steps and their delivery by personnel. It is also tied to the relationships between the employees and the customer, the customer’s perceptions of service and brand, and the effect these relationships have on the customer’s total experience.
In addition, there are lesser and greater levels of service and experience. While a customer may have one bad experience (the lesser experience), the overall experience with the brand may be positive (the greater experience).