I believe that when you are working in a business, it is very easy to get a subjective view on which part of the business is the most important.
Personally, I work in the RnD department, so fortunately I know that programming is the single most important function in our company ;-) Some of my colleagues work with sales, and of course they have the incorrect view that sales is the most important thing we do… Fortunately, we have good people in management with a more balanced view of the departments and their importance.
And normally all departments serve a purpose, which without we would not work in the long run. Like any well designed machine, we need all the teeth in the wheels to work properly:
There is nothing wrong with this perspective. It represents how your organization is working. However, I will argue that the customers, which are the ones paying us money, have a rather different view of our organization. They probably do not know of all the nitty gritty details we have to deal with in order to get our goods and services out the door, and they probably don’t care either. I believe the customer experience largely consists of two elements: our main deliverable (the stuff we are selling), and the customer service we accompany it with:
This is what the customer experiences, and I believe the Service is a substantial part of it (size will vary). Consider it yourself: what is your total Customer Experience when your cable-tv goes blank (worked perfectly up until now), and you find yourself waiting on the phone for half-an-hour listening to pan flute music trying to reach someone who can help? Or, when the airline where you have been a faithful customer for years does not allow you to change your ticket.
A bad Customer Service experience can really ruin the Customer Experience.
And delivering bad Customer Service is really like stumbling on the finishing line. Consider my own trade; software development. I have spent the past 15 years working on this software (SuperOffice Customer Service). We have hundreds of thousands lines of code in it, numerous functionalities which have been designed, tested, redesigned and retested over the years. We have lots of people working hard on marketing our products, and we have lots of people working hard on selling it.
The amount of work being done before our product reaches its customer is enormous. In comparison, offering good Customer Service is a walk in the park. Losing a customer because of poor customer service, after all the work being put into creating a product and selling it to them, simply does not seem very smart.
Or, consider an airline company. Imagine all the work and investments which have been made before you can make your journey. Offering you good service seems like a very small effort compared to purchasing airplanes, hiring pilots and buying zillions of gallons of gasoline. And still, I know people who have said they will prefer not to fly again with a certain airline because the crew was unfriendly.
So, I believe that in order to be successful, you should take a step outside your business. Take a look at what your customers are experiencing, and make sure it is something which would make you stick around.