“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground”. ~ Jerry Gregoire
I chose this quote to start because I think it explains why I feel an entire menu category should be devoted to this topic when talking about experiences in Spain. In the US I would say that this quote no longer applies as the majority of companies have already realized the importance (and resulting economic benefits) of not just getting this right, but exceeding expectations and doing the unexpected with personalized experiences. However, in Spain, this is still a thing of the future and something which I truly feel will become a competitive difference to make companies win or lose in the future. Sooner or later most things from the US make it to Spain (Black Friday for example). I’m convinced that the importance of a real focus on the customer will soon be one of them as well.
Before sharing anecdotes of both bad and good (almost even more important) customer experiences, I think it’s important to reflect a bit on why I’m dedicating an entire category to this topic.
Customer service is not the same thing as customer experience. Customer service is the interaction a company has with a customer at any one time at any one touchpoint (in-person, on the phone, online, etc.). We use this term generally to describe the service or treatment a customer receives when he/she voluntarily contacts a company. It should go without saying that companies first need to get this right and provide good service. This is the basic foundation for any business or entity.
Customer experience is the “sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.” (See Harvard Business Review article: https://hbr.org/2010/10/understanding-customer-experie) In other words, this is the overall interaction and feeling you take away after dealing with a company and/or its brand.
Back in Boston I worked at a company called Forrester Research, specifically in the Customer Experience Research Team. My work there consisted of working with a team of analysts to evaluate the experience that companies were providing to customers through the web, automated phone systems (IVR), email and the integrated experience across different contact channels. The team produced many research reports benchmarking the experience companies were providing in various sectors and showcasing best practices. This job sparked my interest in customer experience as I realized the importance (branding and reputation – loyalty – increased sales) of not just getting this right, but exceeding expectations.
Then I moved to Spain.
I’ll preface my next words by saying that not everything I’ll say is negative (hey, even the police get a few good experiences), but it is true that customer experience (and customer service to start) is not a focus here. And I’m sure of this not just from my personal experiences, but from the fact that “Customer Experience” Jobs like Chief Experience Officer or jobs with customer experience in the title (something that I would love) are very few and far between whereas in the US there are many high-level jobs and/or departments focused on this. Unfortunately, more often than not here in Spain “the customer is wrong”. After 12+ years I’ve gotten used to the service. It only really hits me that something’s not right when I have family here and something happens to make them shocked at the service. That’s when I realize that it’s not normal. If only companies could realize the importance of treating customers right and the economic benefits from being nice and making customers happy, one touchpoint and interaction at a time!
With this site I’ll be sharing personal anecdotes of both good and bad customer service and overall customer experience when it’s more than just a service. I truly am passionate about this topic and believe that some day in the future companies here will realize the importance that each interaction at each touchpoint makes with their customers. On a positive note I’ve seen that one of the big banks here, BBVA, my current bank, has been publishing in all media that they’ve been awarded a prize for the best mobile banking app by Forrester, my old company. Good news. The future could be around the corner.