Archive for the 'Customer Service' Category

Down the Drain

I recently wrote a post about the less glamorous side of  first impressions.  One of the examples I gave involved restrooms.  It’s an area that can often get overlooked when thinking through first impressions and your guest experience.  However, it can quickly create a negative experience.

It’s interesting to go into a really nice environment and find a horribly maintained restroom.  Equally interesting, is to go into a place that’s dirty and not well-maintained, but has an immaculate restroom.  I’ve been in nice restaurants that have surprisingly dirty bathrooms and restrooms in run down gas stations that looked like they belonged in a four star hotel.  In both cases the quality of my experience was impacted.

Here are a few areas to think through when evaluating the restrooms:

  • Smell – hopefully it smells good or at least not bad.  Air fresheners are cheap
  • Paper Products – TP & Paper Towels – make sure before an event that these items are well stocked
  • Trash Cans – these need to be in a place that are accessible, because if they aren’t trash will end up all over the floor. Please place at least one beside the door for the germaphobes
  • The Floor – clean it well before and after an event
  • It might be a good idea to assign someone to make rounds and do some spot cleaning (wipe up any water on the counter, pick up trash on the floor, etc.) at regular intervals

For additional reading – here’s an article about first impressions, rest rooms, and the college admissions experience from TargetX.  Here’s a look at the winners of a contest they held.

Complete the Experience

A few months ago I was dining at One Midtown Kitchen with some friends and experience something that I think translates into a great customer service principle.

The experience that evening was definitely good – the food was well prepared and presented, the service was excellent, and the atmosphere was carefully planned.  We had finished our meal and were talking as we walked toward the door.  Just before we walked out the door the host engaged us, asked us about our experience, and wished us a good evening.  Then, once we were outside, the valet engaged us and also asked out about our experience.

The experience was already good – the actions of the host and the valet made it great, they worked to

Complete the Experience

As I’ve been thinking about this principle for a few months I’ve seen it pop up in other places.  AAA makes good use of this to check on the service their members received.  After you call them for service, they’ll call you within the next 24 hours to see if everything was okay, your service was prompt and if you need anything else.  Some business and churches have “exit greeters” who greet you on the way out to try to complete your experience.

What if performing arts centers, theaters, and arenas started doing this?  “Thanks for spending the evening (and your money) with us we hope you have a safe trip home.”  What about your mechanic?  “Thanks for trusting me with you car (i.e. something you probably don’t know a lot about) do you have any questions about the service I did today?”

Where have you experienced or seen an organization “complete the experience.”  How did they do it?  Were they excellent in something small, or did they go over the top?


Mixed Messages

Sometimes when interacting with organizations you receive mixed messages.  They say that they value something, but your experience is completely different.  Another issue common among chains is that there’s not a consistent experience from one location to another.  Case in point:

Situation 1:

We bought something at Target and later realized that we needed two instead of one.  We looked at the location close to our home, but they were out.  So, we called one of the other stores in the area to see if they had them in stock before we drove out there.  The department staff person tracked them down for us so we knew it wouldn’t be a wasted trip.  This was not an expensive item (maybe $7).  She then kept them with her until we got there (1-2 hours later) so that she could make sure that they didn’t sell out and we got what we needed.

Although, someone at Corporate might not have been really excited about her holding merchandise for us, which is apparently against company policy, she offered stellar customer service with a great attitude.  After we met her and she helped us with our request, she asked if there was anything else she could help us find or do for us.  We were thoroughly impressed with her and with Target.

Situation 2:

A couple of weeks later we were doing some Christmas shopping, and we accidentally bought a pair of pants that was the wrong size as a gift for someone.  Anyone who consistently shops at Target knows about the dreaded return policy.  A quick google search will lead you to plenty of interesting opinions about the policy.  As soon as we realized what we’d done we began dreading the return.

I was supposed to leave the receipt out the next morning for my wife, but I forgot.  My wife tried to exchange the pants the next day, without the receipt and they would not let her exchange them.  The pants were even on sale the next day, and she said that she didn’t expect to get the sale price, she just wanted to exchange them for the correct size.  Their computer system allows for scanning the item and tells them what store it was purchase at and when (in this case the day before at that same store – but with my card instead of hers so they could not give her a refund).  No help.

While I understand that a strict return policy helps keep prices low and enables them to pass the best values on to customers, in that moment my wife felt anything but valued.  Our two experiences sent conflicting messages about their commitment to customer care.  If you lead a team or organization – What messages are you sending to those who interact with you (intentional or unintentional)?  Are they consistent or are you sending mixed messages?  If you have multiple locations, do you create consistent experiences and levels of service at every location/branch/campus/store, etc.?