Whether you sell goods or services, very few things will trump your customer’s experience. When I work with clients, I often ask them how they improve the caliber of the experience they provide to their customers. The answers I usually get are the results of satisfaction surveys and the number of complaints filed in the customer service department. These may be valid data points, but they really don’t provide the true pulse of what is happening.
The most optimal way to improve the experience you provide your clients is to first define what that means to you and your organization. For a service-driven company, the definition should include all the touch points that exist between your customer and you for the entire lifecycle of that customer. Your objective is to look at each touch point and identify what would truly create a happy customer. If anything is off course, build in systems that are upstream from the problem. What can be done to prevent repeat issues in the future? If things are optimal, what can be done to be assured that you are replicating the success you’re having? You will also want to install other points of contact downstream to assure the client is still in a good place.
Ideally, you want to ensure that the customer’s experience is consistent throughout the organization. In order to do this, you will want the customer to feel that your entire team is on the same page. Whether the client interacts with sales, management, or customer service, you want them to feel there is harmony inside your organization. In order to get to this place, you should have all of your departments experience the role each department in your organization plays so they understand it coming from the client’s position. This way, whether they intercept the client upstream or downstream, they are better equipped to have full empathy.
The other critical element that I work on with my clients is engagement. How masterful is your client-facing team when it comes to to not only building trust, but also validating or authenticating your client’s needs?
My wife Jolie and I are members of a private social club called the One Hundred Club located here in the Seacoast of NH. I feel they are an excellent illustration of making people feel validated. The moment the elevator doors open on the top floor of 100 Market Street, you enter the Club and are greeted by staff and escorted to your table. Regardless how new to the staff that person may be, they know each and every member’s name. Imagine always being recognized and greeted–it’s like you are wearing an invisible name tag that says “make me feel special today.”
If you have food allergies, follow a certain eating plan, or simply like your Manhattan served straight up with a preferred brand of bourbon, not to worry. This is all common knowledge for David, Michael, Greg, and the staff at the One Hundred Club. What’s more, they are keenly aware of the level of engagement you prefer when visiting. If a birthday or some other special event has (or will soon have) taken place, a member of the staff will ask about it with sincerity. If you are the type of person who talks about your family, they will ask about your family members. It’s often as if no time has passed since your last visit. Here’s an important point: they all do this with authenticity. They truly care about the people they are serving.
Many organizations miss this by having the wrong people in the wrong roles for their organization. Jim Collins says in Good to Great, “those that build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not the markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is the one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people.” Neil Gibb, the principal owner of the One Hundred Club, gets this. He makes caring about the members a priority. He listens to member feedback. And he brings on people that are wiling to grow and develop as the organization grows.
Take some time this week to map out all the touch points that your clients have within your organization and build an optimal outcome for each touch point. From there, pull together all client-facing departments and schedule time for each department member to experience all other client-facing interactions, both upstream and down stream from their position. Next, build in processes and systems to assure you have the right people on the team in the right roles and that each customer interaction is one that is optimal. The companies that do this, like Disney, are the ones that offer the highest level experiences for their customers. By offering something that is positively differentiated, you can become what Seth Godin calls your own “purple cow.” You’ll stand out and be remembered by your clients.