“If you don’t understand the details of your business, you are going to fail,” – Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.
My wife and I were recently in the market for a new sectional sofa for our family room. With three daughters, a hyperactive indoor dog and countless visitors over the past decade or so, let’s just say we were ready for a significant upgrade! Our quest led us to numerous furniture stores within a 20-mile radius of our Atlanta area home. We had narrowed our search to a couple of locations, each with great sofa options that met our criteria for price point, general style and comfort level.
Before pulling the trigger, though, we committed ourselves to visiting one final, recently opened store that had garnered numerous positive reviews pertaining to its large showroom and extensive selection. As we approached from the main road, the building itself certainly looked nice enough, including beautiful stonework architecture and elaborate window treatments. The lot was quite full, so we parked near the back and expectantly walked towards the front entrance. As we admired the ornate portico just outside the front doors, something caught our attention at ground level on both the right and left hand sides. Widely scattered among the newly planted azaleas and colorful bedding plants were large patches of unsightly wiregrass and other assorted weeds. We were shocked, as this very visible eye sore seemed so out of place for what was otherwise a great venue. I logged a mental note, and we hastily entered the store.
Twenty minutes later as we drove away, we recounted our overall experience. The showroom was as advertised – expansive and stocked with great product. Our sales representative was nice enough and very knowledgeable. We even found a sofa that we really liked at a decent price. But something just didn’t feel quite right about our experience, and it didn’t take us long to identify exactly what it was. We simply could not get our minds past the unkempt landscaping by the front entrance way. If something so seemingly basic went unaddressed, what might that potentially say about the organization’s home delivery practices, financing options or warranty claim process?
In the hustle and bustle of running a business, did store leadership (or other employees for that matter) simply fail to recognize the literal jungle that was growing just outside their front doors? Or even worse, were they fully aware of it but failed to prioritize it as an important first impression? It’s hard to say for sure, but needless to say we decided to take our business (and subsequent purchase) elsewhere.
As service professionals, what can we learn from this scenario? First, carve out regularly scheduled, dedicated time to evaluate your organization’s service process through the lens of your customers. The key is to simulate the actual customer experience, whether online, by phone, in person or some combination thereof. Organizations don’t decide whether their service experience is exemplary. The customer makes that determination every time they interact with you. Customer perception is indeed reality, and when perceptions are negative, trust begins to erode. And when trust is eroded, customers generally choose your competition.
Next, practice detail management. Pay attention to the seemingly little stuff along the customer continuum that may be critical to delivering Service Unleashed; things like the aforementioned weeds in your flower beds, cigarette butts strewn about in common areas, overflowing trash cans, chipped paint, disheveled uniforms/attire or even improper body posture. Look beyond the visual to include things like voice tone, inflection or distracting background noises.
Finally, despite our best efforts to identify potential service pitfalls, no strategy outperforms soliciting feedback directly from your customers. Move beyond the standard and obligatory, “How was everything?” question. Instead, dig deeper by asking critical thinking questions such as, “What is one thing that would have made your experience better today?”, or “How can we specifically improve our service levels in the future?” You’ll be surprised how straightforward your customers will be when they believe you really care and actually want to involve them in your continuous improvement efforts.
Organizations and individuals committed to world-class service relentlessly focus on every customer touchpoint, both large and small. The details matter. What will you do today to drive a culture of Service Unleashed?
Customer experience expert Jamey Lutz recently joined the FPG team after having served five years in a senior leadership capacity with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. In his current role as Human Performance Strategist, Jamey oversees client-based training and facilitation activities for FPG’s Service Unleashed© Program. Jamey’s specialties include customer data analytics, service improvement initiatives and reward and recognition systems.
FPG is focused on mastering the art and science of human performance. A global leader and designer of sales, management, customer service and executive training programs. FPG is a dedicated team of individuals committed to helping you and your company succeed. It is named Best Place to Work in Fort Worth, TX by FWinc and is ranked by Inc.5000 as one of the nation’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies, 2016.
Stevie Award winner Jason Forrest, CEO and Chief Culture Officer, has created a sales and sales management training program, regarded as being the most effective and sustainable in the world. This program has won 3 Stevie Awards, and earned Jason the reputation of being one of the world’s top sales trainers. Other awards he has received are Training Magazine’s Top Young Trainer of the Year and his book, Leadership Sales, Coaching, won Selling Power’s Best Books for Success award. Jason currently serves as 2016 Chairman of the National Speakers Association’s Million Dollar Speakers Group.