The Meaning of Customer Experience

08 Aug 2023

Written by Corrine Dutil from Canam.

This article appears in the fifth edition of Steel Plus Network Connections magazine, released in July 2023.

My name is Corinne, and 5 months ago, I embarked on an exciting new adventure at Canam. This isn’t my first time here, though. My journey with Canam actually dates back to 2005 when I was a 14-year-old scraping paint off the garage windows in the shop. But that’s a story for another time.

In January, I joined Canam as a Customer Experience Advisor, with a simple mission: to contribute to Canam’s ongoing pursuit of providing a better customer experience. This mission has been at the heart of the company since its beginnings, and I am thrilled to play a part in it.

Customer Experience (Cx) has become a buzzword – it’s discussed at conferences, integrated into apps, analyzed by consultants, and derived from data insights. All this hype can make us a little dizzy and question if we’re truly on the right track.

At its core, Customer Experience encompasses the overall impression and perception a customer forms about a company, shaped by their interactions and engagements throughout their journey. But what lies beneath the surface? What does it truly mean? To jumpstart my efforts, I decided to hit the road and personally visit our customers, wanting to discover their unique perspectives on customer experience. 

What I discovered both surprised me and made perfect sense.

When I asked our customers about their understanding of customer experience, I expected them to mention perks like hockey games, trips, dinners, as well as the importance of good service and quality products. I even started imagining the key performance indicators (KPIs) I could use to measure customer experience and the data that could shape my plans—numbers, statistics, percentages, and so on.

However, it turned out that my « plans » were a little off track. During my conversations with customers, not a single person mentioned things like steak dinners and arena seats. Instead, they revealed that customer experience to them is something much simpler. It embodies the pillars of any strong and healthy relationship. 

Trust. To them, trust is the foundation upon which excellent customer experience is built.

Because whether we operate in construction or any other industry, we are all connected by one common thread: our interactions with other humans. Empathy, compassion, genuine connections and patience are universal needs. Above all, trust is paramount and I’ve discovered that it’s what “good customer experience” truly means.

In fact, an astounding 99% of the customers I visited emphasized on the importance of it. Of respect, collaboration, and long-lasting relationships that endure even in the face of challenges.

You see, true customer experience cannot be solely measured by KPIs and data. Exceptional customer experience is something that is felt— and it must be felt in every aspect of the customer journey. It’s about making others feel valued, not simply because they write you a cheque, but because they place their trust in you. It’s about cherishing individuals simply because they deserve it, regardless of their role or title.

In my opinion, this is the essence of providing a remarkable customer experience—by embracing our shared humanity and treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated.

Of course, there are countless other factors to consider: fair pricing, top-notch products, timely deliveries, flexibility, and yes, even the occasional arena seats, trips, and dinners! Don’t get me wrong : those things can and should be measured, and plans should be put in place. However, to truly deliver a robust customer experience, I firmly believe that it must be rooted in the shared human experience we all have, regardless of our respective industries or professions.

In the end, it is the genuine care we extend to others that will leave a mark on our customers and our collective success. The pursuit of a better customer experience begins and ends with the recognition of our shared humanity and the meaningful connections we forge along the way.

And here’s the beauty of it all: you can start today. With a smile that you don’t usually give, or by making that long-overdue phone call to a customer, and by taking that extra step to make sure the worksite is going well when it’s not in your daily tasks. Start today, continue tomorrow, and I think you’ll witness the impact these small acts can have on the customer experience you deliver. PS. Trust is #1, but who doesn’t love a dinner every once in a while? 😉