What differentiates you from your competitors? How can you stand out from the crowd?
Look hard into what your organization provides: your products and services, your delivery systems, your employee’s attitudes and the way you build relationships with customers. But what truly differentiates your organization from the rest?
Customers today are not just buying product and services, they are expecting an experience. For example, customers visit Starbucks not just for the coffee, but also for the comfy chairs, great smells, trendy people, and free WiFi. Starbucks’ goal is to be the “Third Place” in our daily lives, another place you visit regularly, just like home and work. They understand what differentiates them is the best possible customer experience.
Sad to say, many organizations still miss the point. Service is not about what you do. Service is your customer’s experience from what you do.
To illustrate the importance of the customers’ experience, I share my colleague’s recent experience at a local spa.
#1: Making an appointment
Fenni’s first interaction was over the phone when she called to make an appointment. The phone was answered quickly and she was greeted politely. She told the service provider her name and that she wanted an appointment for an hour long massage on Saturday at 10:30am. The service provider then asked her a series of questions to gather (again) the information which she had just given. Fenni felt the service provider was following a standard script, and did not listen to what she already said, . That wasn’t a very good start, but at least she got the appointment.
#2: The entrance
When Fenni arrived at the entrance of the Spa, she could tell this was a well-established company with good décor and lighting. Of course, it smelled good, too. She was greeted at the reception counter. As this was her first visit to the Spa, she was asked to fill in a 2-page long questionnaire. It all seemed so tedious! Fenni was annoyed and made a comment about the lengthy form. The service provider told her that it was a standard requirement and that she must provide all the information. While she was completing the form, the service providers were chatting loudly among themselves, seemingly having a wonderful time. Fenni was annoyed!
#3: The masseur
Upon completion of the form, Fenni was greeted by a friendly masseur who escorted her into the massage room right next to the reception area. She was looking forward to an hour of quiet, soothing relaxation.
#4: The room
The room looked nice and comfortable but Fenni noticed something missing – the relaxing music most spas play. She brought this to the masseur’s attention and the music was turned on. Ah…. finally time to relax! The oils on her body smelled good and the massage felt great. But Fenni could not rest completely because it was noisy. She could hear the chatter and laughter going on at the reception area throughout her one-hour session.
#5: Reception area
When the massage was over and Fenni was back in the reception area, the masseur asked what she would like to drink. “Green tea” was Fenni’s request, but she was then told that they only had water. Fenni was puzzled. “If you only have water,” she asked, “then why did you ask what drink would I like in the first place?”. The masseur shrugged and placed a styrofoam cup of water on the table. Fenni could not believe the lack of professionalism and was truly taken aback.
#6: Sales consultant
Finally, a sales consultant asked Fenni for feedback. Fenni told her the massage was very good and she liked the body oil product very much. She asked the sales consultant about the brand they use and the sales consultant couldn’t answer her questions. Fenni was asked to wait while the sales consultant found out from the masseur. The sales consultant finally came back with an answer and asked Fenni if she would like to sign up a package with them since she like the massage and the product so much. What do you think was Fenni’s reply?
How would you describe the above experience?
This is not what Fenni expected. And this particular Spa clearly misses the point. They have an excellent core product (the massage and oils)but miss out on creating an positive overall experience.
The Spa team providers could have listened more carefully over the phone, offered to help fill in the questionnaire, made the visit more interactive. They could provide a more restful, peaceful, and relaxing atmosphere with music always on, and an assortment of drinks. They could improve their product knowledge to answer questions, and use that knowledge to encourage customers to come back for more.
Look carefully at the Service Transactions you deliver and the Perception Points in each transaction. See your organization through the eyes and ears of your customers. You will discover there is so much more you can do. Perception Points contribute to your customer’s experience and determine whether your organization will stand out from the rest.
Which Perception Points will you improve?