Ford Versus Ferrari: A Lesson in Customer Experience

Functionality versus customer experience: Do they belong together? Yes! And here’s a story to make the point:  

Two guys are buying new cars. One buys a Ford EcoSport, and the other buys a Ferrari Roma. The Ford costs about $25,000. The Ferrari costs about $250,000 – 10 times more! 

Both guys live in the same neighborhood. They both drive downtown to work. They use their cars for the same reason: daily transportation. Both vehicles go back and forth to work without any problems. And because of the speed limit, both take about the same amount of time to do so. And both dealerships – Ford and Ferrari – provide stellar customer service. So, why would one pay 10 times more for something that does the same thing? 

The answer is simple. While both may appreciate a good customer experience, one wants a different product experience.   

Here’s another example. The Ritz-Carlton is obviously a fancier hotel than the Comfort Inn. Both brands offer the same functionality – a room with a bed, TV, bathroom, etc. However, if you want a bigger room, marble floors in the bathroom, and fluffier towels, then the Ritz is perfect for you. And just like buying a Ferrari, you’ll pay more for a room at the Ritz-Carlton than you will for a room at the Comfort Inn. 

The examples of Ford versus Ferrari and the Ritz-Carlton versus Comfort Inn illustrate a fundamental truth about customer experience: It transcends the boundaries of price and product category. While the two cars serve the same function of transportation, the choice between them isn’t about getting from point A to point B. It’s about how one feels on the journey. Similarly, a stay at the Ritz-Carlton versus the Comfort Inn isn’t solely about a place to sleep. It’s about the quality of the experience between the walls when the guest is awake. 

The point is that functionality and customer experience are not mutually exclusive but are, in fact, very connected. The value of an exceptional customer experience cannot be understated, regardless of the product’s price tag. Whether the customer drives a $25,000 Ford or a $250,000 Ferrari, if they are treated poorly, they aren’t coming back. 

Regardless of what store you go to, what hotel you stay at, what airline you fly, and what car dealership you do business with, it’s not about the grandeur or the glamour. It’s about how businesses make us feel. All customers should be treated equally, with respect and dignity.

Related: Rip the Band-Aid off Communication