Putting Your Customer Experience Strategy On The Table
It was subtle, but I noticed it fast. Here I was sitting at a bar of a steak and seafood restaurant and it hit me. “This place may be a bit more expensive than expected.” But, we’d committed, so we decided to “see it through.” Looking around the space it was clear that no detail was left unnoticed. Everything from the bar counter woodwork, the arrangements of the decor, tables oriented with plenty of space, and just the right level of background music, emitted a feeling of comfort and relaxed atmosphere.
But what really enhanced the experience was the service. It was balanced just right with the customer in mind. There was no suggestion or thought such as to, “where is my waiter?” or “could they just leave us alone for a while” – none of that. Instead, they were there when another drink was needed, when an order was ready to be placed, and when the table needed to be cleared – the service was right in-line with expectations. However, all of this is what one could come to expect in a nice restaurant.
What made this experience exceptional was the finishing touch. As we were getting to the end of the meal the manager comes up and offer a shot of grappa; on “the house,” she said. Now, not everyone likes grappa, but in this situation it couldn’t have been more perfect. A bit surprised but with lovely finishing drink the experience lingered on many more minutes until finally it was time to pay the bill and move on. To this day as simple as it was, that experience created satisfied value that was remembered.
So what makes a good customer experience?
Being unique matters. If you pair something unique with meeting expectations it’s a powerful combination. Good customer service can be defined as being friendly as you interact with the customer, but also fully meeting their expectations. For example, if you are a quick serve business, customers that come to you are clearly expecting to receive their food, quickly, but they also expect your staff to be friendly, perhaps with a smile. Meeting expectations also means that there is consistency in the quality of your services or products, especially if your business has multiple locations. So, good customer service begins with meeting customer expectations.
But, good customer service also means exceeding your customer’s expectations where you can. Checking into a hotel and learning that you’ve been upgraded is a good customer experience; or getting grappa at the end of your meal! Exceeding your customer’s expectations in a way that is meaningful to the customer is an assured way to give your customer a good experience.
Research has shown that when customers have a good experience with a particular business they come back. This is why 89% of businesses compete mostly on customer experience. But what is more disturbing is that 88% of businesses believe they deliver superior experiences and yet only 8% of customers will say that they received a superior experience.
You work hard to get that customer in your store, at your restaurant, or to buy your services in the first place; so why not keep them coming. Of course, you need to first make sure that you are meeting your customer’s expectations, but now you also need to work on ways to make it a memorable experience so that they more likely will choose you when they need to decide where to go.
If you’re going to create something memorable you need a concentrated customer experience strategy.
It starts by seeking a way, or ways, to create something that your customers will remember. Consider the following suggestions in order to come up with memorable ways that may work for your business:
Group your customers into categories. For example, if you have a restaurant, some customer like to interact with a waiter, and some do not; others prefer TVs glaring all around yet others prefer to be able to talk with whom they are with. You can probably find ways to categorize your customers in the same way.
Think through the different groups that you have categorized. Make a list of expectations for each group. Start the list from the time they step foot into your store or restaurant, to the time they leave. How would you greet them, what are your processes, and what other interactions should you have for each group? Also, think about your decor; is it arranged in a way that meets your different customer category expectations?
Seek to create ways in which each customer category might be surprised in a way that they would appreciate. It should be something that they remember, like the examples given earlier.
Also, create a culture in your store or restaurant with your employees that are focused on meeting and exceeding your customer expectations. Perhaps even give your employees an incentive for achieving certain goals with your customers.
Don’t be a statistic like the one above that thinks you give superior customer services but your customers don’t think so. Talk to your customers, and ask them what their experience is like. Listen as intently as you can so that you can be objectionable about decisions to improve customer service.
Lastly, kindness, politeness, and friendliness should be the values you and your staff should exhibit. Saying thank you is probably underrated, so communicate your thanks to your customers as much as you can.