Many companies today have a 'Customer Service' team, these are the unsung heroes of a company who to be frank, are tasked with dealing with the shit end of the wedge constantly dealing with hostile complaints from irate customers.

If you operate in the retail sector you'll have been told that 'service' is what differentiates your company from your competitor.

In today's modern world if your company has a big customer service team who are kept busy it's probably because you're neglecting the one thing that makes us all choose one brand/company over another.

That one thing is 'how does this make me feel' - this is my emotional reaction to you, and it has a huge impact on our future (or not) relationship - it's what I call an outside in point of view because it's driven by the customer, not an internalised (inside out) view which is driven by the brand/company.

Or put in business speak - "what did I just experience".

Consumers (you/me) don't think in process terms like companies and brands tend to do, we can have a great process but if the overall 'experience' doesn't live up to what your shiny intrusive adverts promised me then next time I'll go elsewhere, and chances are I'll probably share those thoughts on social media.  

Over the years I've been privileged to work with and manage numerous 'customer support' teams around the world, and they all do an amazing job. 

They have their own weekly KPI's that they work with, and report into the leadership team about, virtually all of those KPI's highlight 'experience inefficiency' from within.

My take on this after many years in multi-channel retail is that customer support teams are there to 'prop up' really crap internal alignment around the brand promise and what the 'customer experience's' - and its hugely wasteful for everyone involved.

Let's be honest with ourselves, retail adopted the homogenisation and the blandness of 'corporate multiple retailing' long before the internet kicked it in the balls, add to this the constant pressure on rising cost, the not very environmentally friendly splurge of fast fashion, overt commoditization of the brand, and a simple lack of 'retail theatre' all round has led to this opportunity to re-invent what was.

I was once working with an extremely disruptive business who had invented the industry term 'Re-Commerce', these were the people who bought your old CD's, DVD's, Games etc, refurbished them and sold them via every marketplace (Amazon, eBay etc) as a result became the largest 3rd party seller on all these marketplaces around the world.

A critical piece of the transformation jigsaw that saw the real boom in the business was being able to take an existing and consumer focused time consuming process and massively over simplify it for the consumer.

This innovation didn't just move the conversion needle from an average of 3% to a staggering consistent 19%, it literally transformed the company.

To do this we obsessed about how we can persuade you to 'sell' more of your unwanted media in a way that was 'Surprisingly Easy' - this was our internally aligned focus, it was the direction that everyone inside and outside the company could understand, why? - because it was 'consumer centric' and the whole company was obsessive about the customer experience at every step of the way.

Once we had done this it became a strong filter for future innovations. 

It quickly highlighted what we could do, how quick we could do it, most important it answered the big question around 'WHY' we should do it, and it also highlighted what we shouldn't get distracted with.

So when I see that HMV are having another go at opening a physical retail store, selling physical media, along with digital, and live artist I can see how they're trying to plumb in the 'experience' factor, I for one wish them the best of luck.

The headlines for this article from the BBC are "Can the world's largest HMV store work in a digital age?

Is it really about being digital, or is it simply about thinking 'experiential'?

Do you think 'service' instead of 'experience'?