Customer Service and the Customer Experience

Last week I went to get my hair cut. I made an appointment. I arrived for my appointment 5 minutes early. There was nobody to check me in, so I dutifully sat in the waiting chairs, and sat, and sat as my appointment time came and went. I watched as the stylist that I had an appointment with worked on another client. 17 minutes after my appointment should have started (not that I was counting…) he gave me a nod to come over and sit. I sat down and he asked what kind of cut I wanted. I told him and for the next 20 minutes he didn’t say a word to me. Oh, he chatted it up with the stylist in the next station, but not with me. After he finished, he held up a mirror, spun me around, still not saying anything, I said it was fine, and we were done. A women showed up to take my money. I paid and left. That was not an experience that I enjoyed and I will not return. What’s wrong with this picture…?

Well, to start with, whenever anyone walks into an establishment, they should be greeted at the earliest opportunity. People want to feel welcome and it doesn’t take much to set the tone. That’s why many businesses have receptionists. If you don’t have a designated receptionist and you are otherwise engaged, simply look their way, smile while making eye contact and say, “I (or someone) will be with you shortly. Please feel free to walk around (or have a seat,  or whatever else is appropriate).”

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If you are running late, acknowledge it with the person that is waiting and apologize for the inconvenience. A sincere apology goes a long way to making the schedule glitch okay. You should also let them know how long you will be. You need to adjust their expectations. When you are ready for them, apologize again and put forth a supreme effort to over deliver on their experience. (you should always be trying to do this anyway)

Engage with them! Get to know them. Ask questions, make eye contact, nod, smile, care about what they are saying and, of course, give them great service on whatever they are coming to you for.

Leave them with good feelings. As someone leaves your presence, make them feel good so they want to come back. “Great job today! I can’t wait to see you next time.” “Great having you here. I hope you come back again.” etc. This is their final impression and you want it to be a good one.

No matter what your service business is, from personal training to retail, the experience of the consumer will either build or kill your business. Mistakes will occasionally happen, but everyone understands that. It’s how you handle those situations that makes the difference. Always keep their experience in mind and plan for making it the best one possible.

What’s your biggest customer service pet peeve? I’d love to hear.

What is Your Client’s Experience?

When what you sell is a commodity (let’s use the classic example of selling widgets), your widget is comparable to someone else’s widget. They do their widget thing. Nobody is wowed or disappointed. It’s just a widget, and being just a widget, the lowest price wins.

However, if you want your product (i.e. your club, studio, personal training, or classes) to be more than a commodity, then you need to differentiate yourself from others. Yes, having great great equipment is one thing, but is that enough? Other clubs can have great equipment. How about certified personal trainers? That too can be similar to other clubs. What will ultimately make you stand out from the crowd is the experience that you give to your members/clients.

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou  When we talk about people’s experience with your business, we’re talking about just that, how you made them feel. The experience encompasses everything they come in contact with from the parking lot to the bathrooms to the service desk staff. It should also be representative of your own particular brand. Here are a few thoughts.

The facility –

Not only should everything be cared for and functioning (no potholes in the parking lot, no stains or tears in the carpet), it should be clean (one of the most common reasons for women quitting a club is that it isn’t clean), smell fresh, and be attractively decorated.

Sound is also an important part of the experience. There are now businesses that will customize music for your business such as Soundtrack Your Brand. The volume and acoustics in your facility should also managed.

The people –

From smiling at members/clients across the room to having deep conversations, the whole staff (trainers, teachers, cleaning staff, management, etc.) need to understand that their job is to make people’s days better. How they are dressed, how they interact, even how they smell is part of the experience. Staff cannot bring their personal problems to work with them. It’s showtime from the moment they step out of their car coming to work. At Disney, no employee can be seen out of character and, to deliver an optimal experience, neither should any staff member at your facility.

best_3a878719229bc786eee3_cizeThe equipment –

Simply put, all equipment should be clean, up to date, and functioning perfectly.

The member’s/client’s experience is what they see, hear, smell, and feel, and, in creating a positive experience, all of these factors need to be considered and made consistent with the essence of your brand. Setting the experience is a well-crafted and ongoing task.