When considering how to improve your customer’s experience, you have to focus on your place or environment, processes, and your people. You must have the procedures in place to ensure a consistent brand experience as defined by the way you enliven your customer’s senses, the way you deliver the experience on time and in the right amount of time, and the way your people engage and care for the customer.
Plan for Success
Coming from the hospitality industry, the importance of defining exactly what you want to happen in the most important moments to ensure the perfect guest experience was deeply instilled in me, and it’s something we do at SGEi for all of our clients. As the Chairman of Marriott famously said, “To produce consistent results you need to develop efficient systems and clear rules.”
I have heard all about the importance of removing rules and unleashing the talents of your staff, but in my experience without clear guidelines on what is supposed to happen when your people interact with customers, the experience will be average more often than not. Average occurs naturally. Without expectations and clear delivery rules you are leaving the customer’s experience to chance or at least to how your people are feeling that day.
So, we need some rules; I am quick to point out that once your people understand the rules, deliver consistently, and have confidence, then you can enable them to be more flexible and open in their guest interactions. Once good habits are formed, your people will ensure great customer experience. Before you put these procedures in place and develop good habits in your people, there are a couple of important elements that need to be defined—elements that will make the moment so that it can make the experience.
Let me begin with a quote from Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, “Humans relive their experiences as snapshots—not videos.” This realization is an important aspect in designing and delivering great customer experiences. Customer experiences are broken down into important moments that will make or break the total experience. If you get those key moments right, then the whole experience will seem right: however, if just one of those moments goes wrong, then no matter how well you deliver on all the other moments the overall experience will be bad.
Define the Key Moments
For the hotel business SGEi identified seven key moments in a guest’s arrival experience that needed to go well for an optimal experience:
- Pulling up to the drive
- Arriving at the front desk
- Front desk interaction
- The walk to the room
- The first time looking out the window
- Entering the bathroom
- Sitting on the bed
The experience could be ruined by just one bad moment; a dirty window, a piece of trash left in the hallway, a long wait at the desk, inattentive valets, or an indifferent front desk agent. In automotive, SGEi identified eight key moments in purchasing a car. For a mall client, SGEi identified six key moments in their customer’s mall experience. Whatever industry you are in, there is a small, specific number of moments you need to consider.
Connect Moments with Emotions
The first thing to define in creating a great customer experience is the set of key moments that make the experience. Once you have identified these moments, then you should determine the feeling you want your customer to experience in that moment. When it comes to customer experience, it is all about making them feel good.
Great brands connect emotionally with their customers; they connect beyond just the features and benefits of the product. Define how you want to connect emotionally with each customer at each key moment. The benefit in this exercise is that your people can see emotion; they can perceive if they are delivering the desired customer experience.
There is an ancient proverb that states, “Perception is two parts heart, one part brain.” In other words, the way your customers view you is 66% defined by how you make them feel and 33.3% defined by whether you delivered on the transaction. Just delivering the transaction is not good enough to make customers feel good, even though that is often what we have come to expect.
Establish Clear Expectations for Your Team
If your people aren’t delivering the desired emotional experience they can do something about it. By teaching our people to comfortably and confidently manage emotions and issues, we set ourselves up for the best chance to create a positive emotional connection and a feeling worth revisiting.
Once you know the critical moments in the experience and how you want the customer to feel within them, you can define the processes, expectations, and systems to deliver that experience perfectly every time. You cannot leave your customer experience to chance. Yet, that is exactly what many of us are left to experience every day across industries as consumers. Let’s review. Here are the things you must do to be successful:
- Define the moments
- Explain to your team the emotions you hope to evoke in customers
- Establish clear expectations for your team
This is the road map to great experiences for your customers that we employ for our clients, and we recommend it for you, too.