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Customer service and experience – how do they differ?


Both customer service and experience are important to the success of a business, but these terms are often used interchangeably, but actually they are quite different. 

It can be distilled into the fact that customer service is focused on a single event such as a visit to a shop or a visit to an office, whereas customer experience is the ongoing delivery of memorable moments and a mindset fixed on going beyond expectations. 

The extent to which your business focuses on customer experience and customer service will ultimately determine the quality of brand loyalty and advocation for your business. During the last year we have been working to create a clear vision of just how excellent customer service and experience should be delivered. This, alongside our Beyond front of house programme, ensures that the journey of each customer is thoroughly considered throughout their interaction with the properties we manage.

Three ways to define customer service:
  1. A single event starting from when a customer reaches out for help and the subsequent level of support offered during their journey.
  2. The process is reactive and often relates back to events in the past, for example the resolution of an issue or complaint.

  3. The single interaction is concluded in a satisfactory manner and delivers expected outcomes.

Three ways to define customer experience:
  1. The complete journey a customer takes with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase and is the mindset the brand takes to provide an exceptional level of service.

  2. A proactive mindset that pre-empts any issues or wants a customer may have, preventing any complaints by foreseeing interactions and delivery. The wow factor is at the heart of delivery, creating memorable moments and a level of service that is unexpected.

  3. There is an emotional element to customer experience, it is the feeling people are left with once they have interacted with the brand or property and it is crucial in creating a long-lasting relationship between customer and product.

Of course, all of this is well and good but just where do you start? I think the first important step is to analyse all key interactional touch points with customers; such as planning a visit to the property, their arrival, departure experience and onsite facilities. This will then help you understand exactly what a customer goes through at each step of their interaction with the brand. Also, put yourself in the shoes of the user and try to understand their desired experience and outcomes. Of course having a team that is committed to creating memorable moments is crucial to that is ensuring there are objectives in place which are clearly communicated and monitored. There are a couple of vital tools that can be implemented including customer insight profiling and journey mapping that enable a bespoke customer experience strategy design. Taking the time to understand the brand, the staff, and the people you work with will ensure that being customer-centric is second nature.

Anticipating the needs of the customer is highly important for their experience and providing a personalised service is key for customer service. Without these, it will be hard to create a journey or interaction with your brand or property and create a “wow” effect that goes beyond expectations. 

About the Author:

Zohaib Razvi is a hospitality management professional with more than 15 years’ of experience working with some of the world’s most renowned luxury hotels including The Royal Horseguards Hotel, The Grosvenor Hotel and The Tower Hotel in London. He has designed and launched Colliers customer experience service line Beyond. 

To contact Zohaib, email

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Zohaib Razvi

Head of Customer Experience

Investment Property Management

London - West End

Zohaib joined Colliers in January 2020 to spearhead the Customer Experience Strategy. Zohaib is a hospitality management professional offering 15  years of experience in executing challenging responsibilities pertaining to Guest Relations Management, Front of House Operations, Food and Beverage Operations in the Hospitality and Property Management industry. Zohaib has worked for some of the world's most renowned Luxury Hotels such as Grand Hyatt Hotel Mumbai, The Grand Sheraton Hotel Mumbai, Le Meridien, Pune, The Royal Horseguards Hotel London, The Grovenor Hotel London, The Tower Hotel London, Hilton Hotel London.

Zohaib is also experienced in the property management sector leading a large in-house FOH operation and has a proven track record in delivering exceptional Guest experience with prime focus on a 5 Star delivery from enquiry to execution. People management skill are Zohaib's core strength, along with an extensive knowledge of team performance management, recruitment strategy and team building.

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