A Window Into the Value of Customer Experience

Image by Judy Alkema from Pixabay

The stars aligned in a way when the windshields on both of my cars were cracked and in need of repair. Having known of a customer experience (CX) leader in the car windshield space, I was thrilled to call that company for an estimate. I don’t plan on mentioning them by name in this post because I have tremendous respect for the company and their leadership and don’t wish to cast a negative light on them. But stick with me because I have an important question to ask about the value of CX.

When I contacted the CX leader, the service was great. They were friendly and responsive. The only problem was that when I received the quote for repairs the price was much higher than I expected to pay. Secretly, I was hoping they’d offer me a two-for-one coupon. Surely there are other auto glass companies out there that also offer a great customer experience, right?

I then called Liberty Auto Glass, a local company near my home in San Diego. They too were friendly and responsive — and most importantly they beat the CX leader by a couple hundred dollars. My new windshields would be in stock the next day so I booked the appointment and took the risk. I should note that, while I wanted to use a mobile service, the current pandemic required that I take my cars into their shop.

Reviewing the CX

The day of my appointment arrived and I had a good experience. Allow me to review what was good about it:

  • Everyone was friendly upon arrival and throughout the experience.
  • The waiting area was comfortable.
  • The lady working at the front desk offered me a cold bottle of water while I waited. It was a hot day so that was much appreciated.
  • My cars were ready within the promised time frame.
  • The work was completed as expected.
  • They were able to fix one of my windows with a broken motor as a fairly last minute request.
  • They took the necessary precautions to keep both customers and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In hindsight, there was absolutely nothing bad to say about the experience, and the fact that I saved a couple hundred dollars made the experience all the sweeter. And furthermore, I promptly reported my experience to a neighbor who was also in the market for a couple new windshields. 

What’s the value of great CX?

What am I getting at in this post? I’m merely pondering some questions about the value of CX and wondering if I’ve been approaching the topic wrong. 

  • Is doing business with a company with a great reputation for CX worth two hundred extra dollars — especially when I can receive a perfectly good CX from another company?
  • By hiring the CX leader, how much of that extra couple hundred dollars pays for a better CX, and how much of it covers the overhead of a national marketing campaign to tell the market that they are a CX leader?
  • Do I really need my windshield installer to go “above and beyond” the call of duty or do I just need the work done accurately, on time, and within my budget?
  • Is customer experience really a differentiator for companies and what if everyone in a certain industry offers a great CX?
  • Is CX license for companies to charge significantly more for service or is it possible to keep prices low and still offer a good CX?

Conclusions

As I reflect on this experience, assessing the value of great CX as a competitive differentiator is a complex topic. I’ve come to the realization that it’s entirely possible for more than one company in an industry to deliver an excellent CX. This means that customers may be able to pay significantly less and still have a wonderful experience. Companies likely will have to be competitive on more than just CX in these cases.

Sure, in the windshield business, customers might pay a bit more so the company can supply a quality product, take better care of their employees, and hire enough quality people to take the best care of customers. But I also realize that the CX leader is spending a lot of money to position themselves as a national CX leader and build a national business. 

By shopping local with a company with a good reputation, I didn’t have to help cover the cost of that marketing campaign. And by delivering a great local CX, Liberty Auto Glass likely has no shortage of local referral business, but they may not be primed to grow into a nationwide company.

Pardon me for thinking out loud here. I’m grateful to have had a great CX and saved money at the same time. And now I have a question for you. As a consumer and a student of CX, are you willing to pay a premium to do business with a CX leader or do you spend your time, like I did, aiming to strike a balance between CX and savings? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

2 comments

  • Hi Jeremy,
    You’re right. For many businesses, going above and beyond is not necessary and at times, overkill. Most customers simply want what they want when they want it. They’re happy with your offering, price, and overall experience, even if it’s somewhat basic. Great service and experience is in the eye of the bedholder, regardless of cost.

  • I think it’s important to make a distinction between reputation and reality. To answer your question, I’m willing to pay more for a truly better experience. Reputation, not so much.

    For example, a lot of people sing the praises of a certain department store. I’ve tried to be their customer several times, and I consistently had poor experiences. Does the company deserve its reputation? Possibly, but they won’t get my business because my experience didn’t match all those stories!

    Experience is in the eye of the customer. The local company offered you a perfectly satisfactory experience at a lower price. Unless you later discover a defect with the windshield repair (that happened to me), is it fair to see you wouldn’t hesitate to call them again?

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