The 3 Steps of An Excellent Customer Experience

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Have you ever worked with or done business with someone who really, really frustrates you? If you answered yes, you’re like most.

Now here’s a more important question. Do others see any of your employees as really, really frustrating to work with or do business with? In today’s world of work, customer (including internal customer) frustration causes friction that will stall the growth and performance of your business.

Here’s a real-world example. The dry cleaner I use has an employee that had the following conversation with me.

Her: How is your day going?

Me: My day is going well, thank you.

Her: Why is your day going well?

Me: Excuse me? Why is my day going well? It is going well because I choose to make it a great day, that’s why.

Her: That’s great, do you really enjoy your work?

Me: Enjoy my work? Yes, I do.

Her: Why?

Me: Why? It’s exciting and rewarding.

Her: What specifically is exciting and rewarding about it?

Me: Great people. (Notice the short answer)

Her: What makes the people great?

Me: Because they don’t ask a lot of questions about subjects that are not linked to the subject at hand. (Delivered with grace and not with sarcasm)

Her: Yea, that’s really annoying. Do you have anything exciting and rewarding planned for the rest of your week?

Me: Excuse me, but do you have my clothes ready for pick up?

This is the third time this exact conversation has taken place. And what’s interesting is that this person’s questions and responses are delivered without inflection or emotion, which means she is following a script and not genuinely interested. I have no doubt she means well and likely has been instructed to actively engage customers by asking them about their day and their work, but it’s not working.

But her employer has a misplaced perception that all customers want this type of experience, and they have also provided a process for asking well-meaning questions. But they haven’t taken steps to ensure it’s an authentic – versus perfunctory – conversation.

What’s the lesson on this micro-enterprise level? Excellent customer experiences have three essential elements:

1. Think customer first. Think through your customer interactions less from your process perspective and more from your customer’s perspective. Leaders must drill down into what customers think, feel, know and believe.

2. Shop your business. How do you know you are doing well or poorly? Continually put your finger on the pulse of the customer experience and ask what’s working, what’s not working and what your company can do each day to make the customer feel welcome and valued.

3. Cultivate employee excellence. Memorable and enjoyable customer experiences are facilitated by authentic employees. Any customer-facing employee must be given not only a process for being successful with customers, they also must be given care and feeding as to how to use the process for the greatest benefit.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge

Consider the three elements above and decide which area needs the greatest care and feeding: putting your customer first in every interaction, in every process, in every touch point of your business; shopping your business; and or implementing one idea for enabling employee excellence. Choose one this week and by doing so you’ll reduce customer frustration and enhance your economic growth.

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