We all know that it is the customer that purchases our products and services, and ultimately pays the bills. Too many organizations lose sight of this reality and ignore the very basic things that could enhance the customer experience.
If you are like me, you can probably give countless examples of a bad customer experience, and hopefully, remember those times that you interacted with an organization that “got it” and made the experience enjoyable and memorable. It is our job to think about what we do from the customer perspective and put in systems, processes and training that allows for a great service experience.
5 Things You Can Do To Improve The Customer Experience
1. Clean Facilities
I’ve gone into businesses that have a musty or dirty smell and it makes me want to turn around and walk out the door. This is particularly important going into a restaurant. If the entryway smells foul, how can I be sure that the kitchen is properly cleaned? There is a department store that I frequent and I am amazed at how nasty their restrooms are. It doesn’t matter when I go there the restrooms always smell and often are not stocked well. Clean, updated facilities are a basic expectation for a positive customer experience. Consumers want to do business with an organization that provides a pleasant shopping or dining experience, and a clean and updated facility can facilitate that experience. This includes having a clean entryway, fresh smelling facilities, clean restrooms and dust free furniture. Stop and take a look around your facility and look for those things that might impact a pleasant experience. Ask yourself the question, “if this were the first time I came here, how would I grade these facilities?” Your answer may surprise you!
2. Friendly Employees
We went to a restaurant the other day and the waitress was lethargic and dismissive. She did not want to be at work and didn’t do a very good of job hiding it. It is unfortunate because this restaurant is pretty consistent with the quality of their food and it would help them greatly if the wait staff shared some of that consistency. Disney trains employees to “be in character” when they are on the front-line with customers. What this means is employees are expected to behave in a way that reflects the family friendly culture of Disney theme parks. This is great model and all employees who interact with customers should be taught this same basic principle. When an employee is representing an organization they should be expected to be friendly, helpful and pleasant to customers.
The ambiance of your business can set the stage for a great experience. I love shopping in stores that have pleasant background music or browsing in a gift shop with sweet smelling candles. Take some time to think about the atmosphere you want to create for your customers and use music, scents, lighting and decor to create that experience.
4. Articulate Communication
We’ve all had the experience of going to the doctor, the mechanic or the computer store and trying to understand terms that are foreign to us. Many organizations have internal lingo that makes sense to them but a customer coming into that environment needs to be able to understand information that is shared and given the opportunity to ask questions for clarity without being made to feel stupid. Many of us act like we understand, when we really don’t, so make it easy for the customer to comprehend your acronyms and technical language.
5. Hassle Free Policies
Providing employees with written policies and procedures is an important part of creating consistency in practice. However, employees need to be trained that these types of policies are meant to be guidelines and employees should be empowered to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the customer. For example, I’ve been to some great restaurants that will substitute menu items or customize food options for the customer. It is always a pleasant experience when interacting with employees who don’t tell you want they can’t do but go out of their way to let you know what they can do for you.
Successful organizations have figured out what it takes to create a great customer experience and provide the facilities, training and empowered employees to make it happen. If the customer is paying the bills, why would any organization not do everything in their power to create the best possible consumer experience. Today’s competitive environment simply means if you are not willing to create a great experience, your customers won’t have to look very hard to find an organization that will! Are you paying attention?
photo by: vissago