I would have posted this on my other blog, SHAPING THE GAME, however it ended up becoming a bit colorful and not as prescriptive as STG editorial guidelines would like me to be. (So thanks ‘structure’ and ‘rules’ for ruining my good time).
I get pretty excited about Customer Experience. I believe in it. The brands I am a customer of, they believe in it. I enjoy solving business problems through the lens of CX. I like teaching people about CX (though it is pretty straight forward). I like helping people understand how to define it, plan it, execute it, realize it and…. do it again.
But, and admittedly this may be simple in a way that marketers tend to have a polar magnetism to (we marketers like to be special snowflakes where nothing is appropriate for us and we need our own solution), but Customer Experience is nothing more than Customer Service.
I’ve mentioned in earlier articles that the food and beverage business got me through high school, college and my grad work. I worked in largely tip compensated positions. Server, bar back, bartender, caterer etc… And you know what? You learn pretty quick – like “when people sign the tip line at the bar quick” – what works and what doesn’t.
Paying attention to customers within an enterprise level organization, isn’t as simple, but also, it isn’t complex.
I worked in bars from time to time as a youngster and you know what? When someone I worked with seemed to not care about the customer, had a sense of entitlement or was phoning it in, I told them so. If I could I fire them, I did. If not, well, I did what I had to. (soundtrack ‘Don’t F$ck with my Money’ by Penguin Prison here)
As in any organization, the owner was in charge of expressing the customer experience they aspired to, and it was up to me to bring it to life. When a guest wasn’t happy with their drink, they got a new one. When a guest wanted green Tabasco instead of red for their oysters, I ran across the street and bought it – then kept it behind the bar with their name on it. When the baguette came out too cold for dipping in escargot butter, I didn’t just replace the baguette, I replaced the escargot – because the ideal experience is having hot butter with a warm baguette.
As a favorite colleague of mine, Wendy Karlyn, likes to say: THINK.
And if that isn’t descriptive enough for you I will expand: CRITICALLY THINK.
Critical thinking isn’t a type of thinking you pull off the shelf and then return from whence it came – it is a way of approaching life, love, business, vacations, etc… It’s just there. You don’t have to be raised with it you can pick it up anytime. – though my parents ‘beat’ it into me (and to them in all honesty – thank you mom and dad, and er, mom and dad – damn divorce).
I believe that many companies are scared that CX is a too big a change. Guess what? It’s supposed to be. I believe companies are nervous that when given empowerment & opportunity, employees will game the system, give away the store and make bad decisions. Guess what, you’re wrong. And if you’re not wrong, you hired the wrong people.
The undertone to the importance of Customer Experience today is the speed and opportunity for inaccuracy that technology brings to customers and brands alike. You have to want to listen, not just think listening is a good idea. You have to sit and talk and plan and converse and hear the bad ideas to get to the good ones from your colleague and leadership teams and certainly the customer. And it gets much harder the longer you wait.
And when I say harder what I mean is, if you wait too long, you won’t have anyone left to listen to.
It’s a mind shift not just for leadership but for all those they are leading!!!! To string along some of my favorite customer service ideas from over the years that need to be said over and over again in the walls of all businesses:
And I am paraphrasing some here:
Unhappy customers are a gift, they can tell you what you can do better in order to be successful.
– Bill Gates
People think that businesses pay employees, but in reality the business is the intermediary between the customer paying the employee.
– Henry Ford
The customer you WOW is more valuable than any marketing campaign.
If your business isn’t about more than money, it never will be.
Don’t be afraid to show your passion in the workplace, its the one thing customers find most attractive.
The more you engage with customer, the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.
– John Russell
Consumers are statistics, customers are people.
– Stanley Marcus
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
– Jeff Bezos
So I offer this, if the North Star of Customer Experience is too much for you or your leaders to glom onto, consider Customer Service – something everyone wants a positive version of. Then connect the dots that customer service isn’t just in the brick and mortar. It isn’t just twitter or call centers. It isn’t just transaction moments or bitch and complain moments. It is the collection of moments that string together to tell the story of what you did with your customer at the end of their lives.
What story do you want to tell? And don’t be afraid to go the extra mile, trust me, there is less traffic there. 🙂