Is Your Customer Experience Accidental?

intentionalHere’s a question to ponder:  Why do some companies seem to ebb and flow almost effortlessly in customer interactions and others get tangled up with difficulties and frustrate customers?

I recently bought a MacBook Air (yep, my world is changing) and I was amazed how smoothly the Apple team took care of and walked me through their buying process to create a positive experience for me.  And in fact, asked me about my experience (using that word) to ensure I was pleased along the way.

Then, in comparison, I was in an office services retail store one day last week (I won’t indict the company name), and during a busy lunch hour only two registers were open and extra personnel were floating around – not helping customers!

Both of these companies provide products and services to the public.  Yet both delivered a very different experience.

Why is that?  Is a positive customer experience no longer common sense? I hope not but I do believe that in today’s ever-changing marketplace, we can no longer assume employees (of any age) will intuitively know how to provide service in such a way that is not just remarkable but intentionally remarkable.

What does that roadmap look like?  I suggest three steps as a starting point.

Distinguish between the “what” and “how” of the job.
Help your employees understand the difference between their job function (working a cash terminal, taking customer payments, etc.) and the way in which they perform the job function (proactive, pleasant, follow-through, etc.).  Employees must have both in order to meet customer – and your – expectations.

Don’t assume common sense is common.
Let’s go back to our example above. When is it ever acceptable to have long lines of customers with only two registers open and available staff walking around not helping customers? Take the next step with your team to clarify expectations and discuss the “not so obvious” scenarios and explain what to do when certain situations arise.

“Walking the Talk” never ends
Creating and delivering a remarkable customer experience never happens by accident.  Employees must continually and consistently be focused on the world around them and how to impact the customer in a positive way.  That focus becomes their #1 priority which means you must beat the customer service drum every day.  Familiarity can breed comfort so look for ways to keep this focus fresh and new for your team.

Oh and one other thing.  When you have the opportunity to hire someone who will interact with your customer..hire for people skills.  In most every case, you can teach the rest.  It will at least give you a leg up when it’s time to set your service expectations.

So I’m curious.  On any given day, do the experiences your customers have with your business positive because they were meant to be? Or are we just getting lucky?

Makes you think.  What do you do to keep service a priority for your team?  Please share an idea or two with us.

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