I believe there’s one obsession all companies should breed in every employee: an obsession with the customer experience. This isn’t window dressing. This isn’t “nice to have.” To me, it should be fundamental. Why? Because everything flows from that experience. How many opportunities are being missed simply by not looking bravely and honestly at how your customer flows through your process?
A Healthy Obsession
I recently stayed at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina in San Diego. Upon entering the lobby, there was a human being standing there like a greeter. He guided me over to the desk, where my check-in process was handled flawlessly, and I was pointed in the direction of the elevators.
The very last part of this is where some hotels do it differently.
Both the Trump International in Las Vegas and the amazing Magnolia Hotel in Victoria British Columbia take the extra step of walking me over to the elevators and pushing the UP button.
This seems like an unnecessary gesture. This seems like a time-waster and a problem with process, especially if there are a lot of people waiting to check in. And yet, the difference is that I felt even more personally cared for at both of those other hotels, based on the starting experience of that simple gesture.
Let me be clear: the Marriott Marquis & Marina is an amazing hotel, and I had a wonderful stay, a great view, and flawless service. I’m pointing this difference out simply to illustrate the point of differentiation in my experiences.
And that’s just one kind of experience opportunity. To me, the bigger issue is friction.
Friction is the Enemy
I was seeking a word to sum up the problem with customer experiences, and the team at 44Doors gave me friction, based on this post. Friction is the enemy.
Where are all the various parts of the customer experience that might cause frustration, an issue, a delay? Sticking with hotels, the one that the Marriott Marquis & Marina solved brilliantly was the business traveler’s lament: plugs. Their desk was loaded with ports and plugs and places to stick my devices.
If you simply set your company’s every last employee on a hunt to reduce friction, you’d find much more customer satisfaction, I’d predict.
Follow the Flow
What is the customer experience for your business? Follow all of it? How do people find out about you? How do they take a next step? What happens when they get started? What about after you’ve “sold” to them? How much of the journey do you still hand-hold? And what happens when a customer leaves your care?
I wrote about this once before in a post about guest experience design. I believe in this. I believe there’s a lot to understanding the potential customer flow.
It’s also really easy to NOT remember to do all this, and really easy to believe that the system is working exactly as planned, after you do it once. But that’s not how life works, is it?
Following the Customer Experience Is Predictive of Future Opportunities
In speaking with credit unions the other day, I challenged them that banks weren’t their competition; access and trust were their competition. Meaning, it’s not banks that are stealing members from their credit union, but it’s problems with access to services and their money that causes them frustration (and trust, but that’s for another post). If every part of a credit union walked through the variations of a member’s experience, it would become clear fairly quickly that members have switched to being more reliant on their mobile phones for information, and that their websites need a mobile-friendly refresh.
The same is true with your company, by the way. Heck, it’s true with mine.
How would you get your company on board to grow this healthy obsession? It’s a process. It requires building out some assumptions of what the map looks like now, testing those assumptions, and bringing together teams, probably as a whole and then one at a time, to talk about how your work influences the work of others around you. From this, perhaps there’s a “spot friction” contest, where you earn points for finding parts of the customer experience that are messy. Maybe you award the employee with the most points the role of “World Class Concierge” and you set him or her to the task of building an empowered workforce of friction-hunters.
And keep this a daily process rolled into a quarterly review. This isn’t a speech to be had at annual events. This is a lifestyle choice, or a workstyle choice, I suppose.
Where’s the Friction in YOUR Customer Process?
Even if you’re a solo consultant, what’s the hardest parts of doing business with you? I know I’m working on mine over the next few months, and then daily. What about you?