Can CX be kept simple today?
Written by Andy Goram, Bizjuicer
Customer experience is a multi-million-pound industry. There are scores of professional, qualified people and organisations helping businesses understand, design, deliver, track and improve customer journeys and the service proposition; all with the aim of creating positive, memorable experiences for customers and more profits as a result. There are a plethora of technology solutions available to support all this effort too. To constantly impress customers and get it right every time, is a complex and sometimes costly business. But why?
We Are All Customer Service Experts, Sometimes
I was watching the excellent James Dodkins on a video the other day, telling his beer spilling analogy of how people deal with complaints. It was probably the beer reference, but it made me remember my first day of bar training, a long time ago. Before I learned how not to pour an ice-cream-topped pint of lager, my boss at the time sat me down and asked me where my favourite place to go for a drink was and why.
I wasn’t expecting this, and I certainly wasn’t expecting the “why” question either. But it made me think. The answers I gave seemed pretty standard to me “The staff are friendly. It’s got a nice atmosphere. They’ve got a nice range of drinks. Oh! and they always serve you in turn.”
“Why’s that last bit important?”, he asked. I wasn’t entirely sure but said that it seemed to make queuing at the bar and getting served less of a competition between customers than it was in other places I went to. All the people queuing at the bar seemed more relaxed as a result and I never saw people getting “funny” with each other.
“Ok, good”, he said. He then pointed to the big mahogany (well, it was a dark wood) bar and said, “You’ve just described a good bit of customer service there. That’s just what I want it to feel like for customers in here. But be careful when you step behind that bar, 'cos it does things to you.” “What do you mean?” I said. He replied, “Pretty much everybody knows what good service looks like, right? That's why you choose some bars over others. So how else do you explain all the rubbish service you get when you go to some places? It must be the bar! Because as soon as people step behind it, they forget what it feels like to be a customer and they forget to give good service. Don’t ever do that, ok?”
Aside from initially thinking that my boss was a bit weird, I never did forget that message. It lives with me today, wherever I go. We all have the capacity to spot good and bad service when we’re customers and we certainly tell all our friends (and anyone else who’ll listen) about our experiences. Sometimes, for whatever reason, when we become servers, things happen to make us forget what good service looks and feels like. Thinking like a customer and reducing the short-term memory loss is the key to it all.
Small Gestures Can Send Huge Messages
No doubt the people and tools mentioned at the top of this article can help do that. They can help businesses get under the skin of the customers' needs and wants. They'll help put delivery systems, journey tracers and training packages in place. Maybe deliver or recommend listening, feedback and tracking systems that give you real-time insight into what’s happening in your venue, on your website and what’s being said about you on social media in one mobile dashboard. Truly amazing stuff. But not everyone has the resources for that.
The smallest gestures at a critical point in the journey, can make a massive difference. Take my lesson as a trainee bar-tender, and how customers were served in turn, with a smile in my favourite bar. What it took to deliver that was for each member of staff to look-up between serving customers, make eye-contact with new people at the bar, smile, nod, or give some reference of recognition that they’d been seen and they’d be served next. That small gesture relaxed customers, made a connection between the customer and the bartender, which in turn contributed to the good atmosphere, which no doubt improved visit frequency, spend and onward recommendation.
There are lots of great things that can be done to create truly distinctive, memorable and consistently deliverable customer experiences today. But it’s still possible to improve your customer experience hugely, by thinking like a customer and getting the small, but critical things right. We can all do that, right?
Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer – a consultancy that believes people are the often-forgotten internal fuel that can power businesses and brands to greater success. He helps businesses build stronger brands through engaged and aligned people and consults on customer experience, transformational change, brand development and employer branding.