“[Sir Ken Morrison] showed us all the importance of aiming high but never forgetting the practicalities of life and the humanity of those we deal with.”
These words encapsulate the essence of great retailing, great business and great Customer Experience. Ken Morrison was an innovator – for example he built Morrisons on a model of vertical integration, directly controlling many of its food suppliers, and developed the Market Street concept of retail theatre combined with expertise directly available to the consumer.
I was delighted to be asked to write this guest post for the Eventbrite blog.
My post shares six key trends that are redefining the customer experience – specifically in the conference and live events sector although these are mega-trends and therefore relevant to every business.
I had an experience this weekend that reminded me powerfully of the importance of what I call POSITIVE Leadership – and the difference a POSITIVE Leader makes.
I reflected that here indeed was (and is) a complete, immersive and high quality, customer experience. It just happens to be a church.
On this special day, I’m sure I share the sentiments of millions regarding the latest milestone The Queen has reached.
Unlike many however, I think of Queen Elizabeth II not just as our Head of State and an constant presence in our lives for as long as most of us can remember, but also as the best boss I ever had.
The power of image was shown at its strongest this week, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed for photographs in front of the Taj Mahal, on the very bench where, 24 years earlier, William’s mother Diana had created one of the most iconic images ever of a failing marriage.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
I’m not saying that you, or your business, are or needs to be “iconic”.
That said, I wonder what you could do to make your business more memorable?
I recently presented a case study at an international tourism conference in Zagreb: the theme was Heritage Tourism: How is it Adapting to the New World? and was based in part on an interview I conducted with Robin Worsnop, the founder and CEO of Rabbie’s Small Group Tours and chairman of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group.
The interview explored Robin’s perspective as a tour operator, and as one of the leaders responsible for developing Edinburgh’s visitor economy. It was a fascinating interview and instructive for any tourism or heritage professional. I reproduce it in full here:
To achieve consistently excellent coffee, you source the best beans, the best milk, the best equipment; you work out a process for creating the required drink and you train your Team to follow that process. All of this can be systematised. Even checking that everything is being done to specification, is part of the system. That is how McDonald’s, starbucks and their ilk got so big – they created a product the market wanted, and designed a system to produce it, perfectly, every time.
But – can you systematise the interaction between the server/barista and the Customer? Well – yes and no: the coffee company in my example certainly thinks you can. But how do you systematise the spontaneous reaction to an off-the-wall request by a harassed Customer who just wants change? Or water for their dog? Or directions to the local tourist attraction?
Loos, ladies and gentlemen – the one facility we all have to use, several times a day, and of course that includes whilst we are out and about. So no wonder then, that public loos – especially those in civilised places such as shops, restaurants, visitor attractions and so on – are uniformly attractive, often cleverly designed (i.e. on-brand), and ALWAYS scrupulously clean.
(No wait…I must be thinking of a dream I had last night. Another hazard of being a Customer Experience specialist is to dream of signage, litter bins and…er loos.)
Here’s a little checklist for every Customer-facing business. Nothing on the list costs very much money (just commitment, and time); however everything on the list will definitely make you (more) money. And – before you read it – please don’t assume you do all this already, or do it well enough. With the greatest respect, I’ve read too many Customer Promises and experienced too many one-sided Service encounters to believe that there isn’t a single business that couldn’t benefit from reviewing this list.
It’s often said that we don’t “do” Customer Service in this country. In response, I’d say that it’s not rocket science: it starts with a smile, a warm glow, a sense of being valued…and an increased propensity to buy, return, and/or recommend. If you want your Team members to be engaged, and productive, then, you too must be prepared to smile, as you exhort them, “Smile, dammit, smile!”