How many great experiences have you had as a customer? Chances are, not that many—especially in light of how many businesses you’ve frequented. Which ought to cause you to pause and wonder, “Maybe we’re not providing the kind of experience we think we are?” In which case, you’d probably be correct. So, how can you turn that around? By learning to THINK, as Apple would say, “Differently.”

1. Think Small – Years ago, Jan Carlzon wrote a little book entitled, “Moments of Truth,” about managing every encounter a customer has with your company. Why? Because it’s the little things that get under people’s skin. For example, you could visit a world-class hotel, but if the person who’s supposed to clean the bathroom leaves some hair from the previous renter in your tub or your bill isn’t accurate or the TV picture wasn’t clear, you probably won’t return. So thinking small, “What are some of the little things that might cause a negative or positive experience for your customers?”

2. Think Big – While managing the little things matters, frequently it’s the big things that make a lasting impression. A question I frequently ask my clients is, “What would make this a WOW?” For example, when I dropped my daughter off for college this fall, the university had live bands playing along the route, and when we parked outside her hall, current staff and students unloaded our car and brought all of her belongings to her room. So, thinking big, “What big things could you do to WOW your customers?”

3. Think Everyone — When you visit a place of business, you don’t care what the person’s position is–you just want an answer. For example, when you’re at the Mouse House (Disney), you have to be impressed that every cast member can answer your questions, they’re all polite, and they all pick up trash. So thinking everyone, “How can you make sure that everyone on your team has the information your customers want–and practices good customer service?”

4. Think Emotional — As much as we like to think that people are rational, most decisions are made emotionally. It’s not, “I’ve evaluated all of the alternatives,” but, “I like that.” For example, when you enter a place of business, you’re not consciously assessing, “So, what do I think about the colors of this place? The fonts on their signs? The design elements? The lighting? The way the store is laid out? Etc.” No, you’re unconsciously evaluating and making a visceral decision, “Do I like this place?” So, thinking emotionally, “How can you change what you do to create a better emotional connection to your customers?”

5. Think Systems – Inconsistency is what kills great service. If one employee is exceedingly polite and the next isn’t or if the Chilean sea bass is great this time, but not the next, you’ve lost a customer. Which is why systems are so important. So, “How can you create systems for everything you do, such that you’ll create great experiences for your customers?”

Great customer service experiences aren’t beyond your grasp. Just THINK it through. And in a world where so few companies deliver exceptional customer experiences–if you do, you’ll be rewarded handsomely, over and over again.

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