As many of you know, I am a fanatic about customer experience. I truly believe, as many experts do as well, that customer experience is still the next competitive battleground where your business is going to be won or lost. It is the differentiator that will separate your business from your competition.

Many people often ask me what the difference is between customer service and customer experience. Although customer experience and customer service are often used as synonyms and they do have some overlap, they’re two different things. Customer service is a single circumstance when the customer seeks support or resources or help, which is a part of the overall customer experience. However, customer experience refers to the overall experience that a customer feels about your business, your staff and how their emotions are touched.

During my presentations and training workshops, I often talk about that by just providing customer service, it will make your business average and boring. Why? Because you are just doing the basics and it does not affect any emotions. You or your staff are just providing transactions. For example, a waiter or waitress takes your order, provides your meal and concludes with the bill. It is of course important to make sure all transactions are accurate, timely and with a smile. However, were any emotions impacted during those transactions? Probably not, which makes that experience was average, expected and boring.

So how can you turn ordinary transactions into extraordinary experiences? Here are 3 Tips:

  1. Listen, Understand and Respond: Pay attention to what your customers are telling you and take action based on it. Show them you’ve listened. For example, if you are that same waitress or waiter listen closely and you might hear that the people dining at the table are celebrating a special occasion. You then understand why they are eating out and then you might respond to help celebrate that special occasion.  We get so busy doing tasks and operations that we forget to pay attention to our customers. What are they saying as well as what they are not saying.

2. Personalize the Experience. Make each interaction unique. Use the information you have or gathered to personalize their experience. Ask for their name or in this restaurant example, you might already know their name from the reservation or from the hostess. Use their names to personalize the experience. At the very least, don’t just treat them as a customer, treat them as your guest and not as a commodity. Treat them as unique individuals and a person. Get to know your customers and seek to build a relationship with them during each transaction.  You can ask them where they are from or if they have ever visited your business before.

3. Surprise and Delight: Unexpected gestures, no matter how small, can leave a lasting impression. “Plus it by one” as Walt Disney called it. Think about what you learned from listening and ask yourself how you can personalize the transaction with surprise or delight. Maybe the waitress overheard the guest saying that they loved the way the fries were made here and when she brings the order, she tells the guest that I heard you loved our fries so a I put a few extra on your plate. How do you think the customer ‘feels’ about what just took place, even though it may be just a small gesture. Again, the most important word is ‘feels’ about the transaction.

Making good products is no longer enough. Serving them efficiently is no longer enough. It’s how we make people ‘feel’ that matters most of all. Today we are in the service economy. No matter what business you are in….. you are in the business in serving other people. The service business. Customer satisfaction is just the the baseline. Customer value goes up when there is an emotional connection.

                              Customer value goes up 52% when you create an                                                                                                     emotional connection with your customers.

If you look close enough you will always find opportunities to make magical experiences. Try to give people more than they can expect. This is not rocket science. It just means caring about your customers just a little more. Imagine if your Doctor did this, your auto service repair shop thought like this, your county staff and municipality employees thought like this?

Give your staff a sense of belonging and purpose by allowing them opportunities to exceed the customer expectations. Give your customers a memory but affecting their emotions and feelings during each transaction. It will transform your business. You will have more loyal customers and repeat business. You will blow away your competition. But it will also make you, your staff, your team and everyone around you feel exceptional and magical too!

Need help? Contact John for a FREE 45 Minute Strategy Session call. It might just be the best 45-minute investment of time you make for your business. Click here:

John Formica is America’s and Australia’s Customer Experience Coach, team culture experience expert, keynote speaker, and Top 10 Global Thought Leader and Influencer on Customer Loyalty. For information on customer experience programs, leadership training, team culture, business growth, how to find and hire great people and tailored training programs just for you or to book John to speak at your next event, contact 704-965-4090 or visit our website at