Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
We all know that it is the customer who purchases our products and services – and ultimately pays the bills.
Too many organizations lose sight of this reality and ignore the basic things that could enhance the customer experience.
What is a bad customer experience?
If you are like me, you can probably give countless examples of a bad customer experience.
And hopefully, remember those times you interacted with an organization that “got it” and made the experience enjoyable and memorable.
Our job is to think about what we do from the customer’s perspective and create systems, processes, and training that allows for a great service experience.
5 Things You Can Do to Improve the Customer Experience
1. Clean Facilities
We all enjoy a clean home and expect the same when we frequent a business.
I have 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 when 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 does not 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 look around your facility and look for those things that might impact a pleasant experience.
Ask yourself, “If this were the first time I came here, how would I grade these facilities?” Your answer may surprise you!
2. Friendly Employees
Employees reflect the culture of an organization. They are the organization.
We went to a restaurant the other day, and the server was lethargic and dismissive. She did not want to be at work and did not do a particularly good job hiding it.
This restaurant is consistent with the quality of its food. It is unfortunate that the wait staff don’t demonstrate that same consistency.
Life is hard and employees may have a difficult time hiding those challenges. However, when an employee is on the time clock they need to learn how to transition into someone representing that organization.
Disney trains employees to “be in character” when on the front line with customers.
Being in character means employees are expected to behave in a way that reflects the family-friendly culture of Disney theme parks.
This is a great model, and all employees who interact with customers should understand this basic principle.
When an employee is representing an organization, they are expected to be friendly, helpful, and pleasant to customers.
The ambiance of your business can set the stage for a great customer experience.
I love shopping in stores with pleasant background music or browsing in a gift shop with sweet-smelling candles.
In the same way, if I go into a business and only hear the sound of buzzing light bulbs, I’m not as apt to spend a lot of time browsing.
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
Have you ever gone into a business and felt like they speak a different language?
We feel stupid when we don’t understand the lingo.
Many of us have had the unpleasant experience of visiting a doctor, mechanic, or computer store and struggling to comprehend unfamiliar terms.
Many organizations use internal lingo that makes sense to them.
However, a customer coming into that environment needs to be able to understand the information that is being shared and be allowed to ask questions for clarity without being made to feel stupid.
For instance, when going to the doctor, it is important for them to make sure you understand medical, drug, or test terminology.
Many of us pretend we understand when we don’t. 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 integral part of creating a quality environment that results in consistency in practice.
However, employees need to understand that policies are meant to be guidelines rather than strict rules. Employees should be empowered to do whatever it takes to meet the customer’s needs.
For example, I have 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 go out of their way to let you know what they can do for you rather than telling you what they cannot do.
Why is a great customer experience important?
Successful organizations have figured out what it takes to create a great customer experience and provide the facilities, training, and empowering employees to make it happen.
If the customer is paying the bills, why would any organization not do everything possible to create the best possible consumer experience?
Today’s competitive environment means that 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?