Gorilla Love

Following on from my Customer Experience thoughts a couple of weeks back, I thought I’d ask a question today:

What’s the difference between a Customer Experience and Customer Service?

Well, we believe that the ‘experience’ is proactive and takes place leading up to the point of the sale, while ‘service’ is reactive and will inevitably happen after the sale has been made.

So, have you ever experienced bad customer service?  Or, should I say, have you never experienced bad customer service?

I mentioned that customer service is usually reactive, but in my experience, the more proactive it is, the more it enhances your customers’ experience with you.  Here’s an example:

You may remember the shoe shop I mentioned in my last article?  Before I left that store with a fresh pair of shoes swinging in a bag by my side, they took my email address and said they would send me an electronic receipt.

Now, I’m not naive as to why they really wanted my email, but because the experience was a good one, I was happy to hand it over.

Exactly four months from the day I bought the shoes, I got an email from them:

“Hi Laurence, hope the shoes are serving you well?  We estimated that you are probably running low on the leather protector you bought from us.  We have identified a couple of shops nearer to you where you get the same product.  But, if you do decide to come to us, your second tin is on us.”

Now, what are the chances of me going in there and not have a pair of shoes sold to me…?!


At the other end of the spectrum…

Last winter I was at Southampton Airport due to fly somewhere for a week on business.  My flight was booked weeks in advance, I’d checked in the night before, parking all booked and paid for the week (which was actually nearly as expensive as the flight itself!).

I went to drop my bag off and was told that I needed to sit to the left and wait for an hour to see if anybody else wants to board.  I fly a lot and know that this is not a good sign!

“Excuse me, but I have already checked-in.”

“Yes, but we are overbooked, and when this happens, the last person to check-in, which was you last night, goes on standby.”

“Er, could you please show me anywhere in any literature or on your website where that is written and is explained, please.”

Obviously, it isn’t.

Then, a young chap turned up and handed over his boarding pass, but also dropped his flight confirmation document.  As any gentleman would, I picked it up:

To my amazement, this chap had bought the ticket only the day before and paid almost half the price of my ticket, which I’d booked a couple of weeks in advance.  NOW I wasannoyed.

A long and loud conversation ensued until a lady working for the ground staff approached me. 

She represented a completely different airline…

“Mr. Peckham isn’t it?”


“I recognise you, as you are a frequent flyer with our airline.”

“I am.”

“We have a spare seat on our flight, but it doesn’t depart until half an hour after this one is scheduled to leave.  But, that shouldn’t be a problem, I’ll call the airline (not hers by the way) and get your flight from the transit airport to wait for you.  I’ve already checked, and you’re confirmed on that one.”

The outcome?  I refuse to fly with the airline that tried to offload me, and I have also recommended many people to avoid them by telling this story.

Of course, I’ll continue to be exceedingly loyal and will favour the second airline that sorted my problem.


So, to the punchline, and the point I’m making.  As I’ve said many times before…

Customer Service is like making love to a gorilla - you don’t stop when you’re satisfied, you stop when the gorilla is satisfied! 😉