Courtesy of Inside Retail HK
How can retail and service businesses differentiate themselves through service?
That is the age-old problem faced by numerous consumer-facing businesses here in Singapore and everywhere around the world.
Targeted specifically at senior managers in the tourism and lifestyle sectors, the session was full of memorable quotable quotes and smart one-liners. Beyond that, it provided a brief overview of the significance of delighting customers through engineering exceptional customer experiences.
According to Lynda, satisfied customers would buy more, spread the word around, and provide positive feedback. This helps to increase sales turnover and reduce marketing and selling expenses for retail businesses.
Loyal customers were also more likely to stay with a company in good and bad times, and they move along the following continuum from browsers –> buyers –> brand loyals.
In the traditional mode of lifestyle businesses, customer service was key. This revolved around the acronym GST which meant:
Citing Hertzberg’s two factors – satisfaction and motivation – Lynda highlighted the close and intimate relationship between the degree of customer happiness and the degree in which they are satisfied and motivated.
However, in the new consumer space, customer experience which relates to how they feel takes precedence over service. Customers trust their experience more than what they hear the service providers say, and this is nicely captured by the following quotes:
“Companies spend millions creating and advertising their brands, yet the customer’s experience is what drives customer perception.” – John R Dijulius III
“Well done is better than well said” – Benjamin Franklin
How then can retailers and service businesses provide remarkable customer experiences?
There are four steps which you can consider:
Exceptional experiences also comes from the interplay of functional and emotional factors. Here Lynda cited the following considerations.
Lynda also created a 4 C Framework that helped to encapsulate the main points in choreographing and creating memorable experiences. These work as follows:
This has to start from the top, with the chief executives and senior managers setting the trail for others to follow. They should walk the talk, focus on the internal customer before moving on to the external customer, and act as role models for their crew to follow.
An example was Jonathan Larsen, CEO of Citibank in Singapore, who served on the shopfloor every Thursday and has computer screens that monitor phone calls and how long individuals take to respond to them.
To achieve crew excellence, you should start with getting the right people on the bus, wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats in the organisation.
An example of this was Starbucks (well at least in Singapore), who were in the “people business serving coffee”. At Starbucks, some of the knowledge and skills needed to engender culture excellence include coffee knowledge, skills needed to brew a great cuppa, the showmanship involved in handling food, and interaction with customers.
Two other well known examples were Ritz Carlton (“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen”) and Singapore Airlines (“A Great Way to Fly”).
This would look at the interaction points between an organisation and its customers. It should be clearly mapped out and defined every single step of the way.
For example, at Disneyland, experience standards covered key areas like safety, courtesy, showmanship and efficiency. Achieving Contact Excellence was illustrated in Disneyland’s rules of behaviour:
Even a park cleaner at Disneyland would be required not just to clean, but to learn how to take camera pictures and read maps.
Finally, you needs to have a way of measuring the impact of your customer experience efforts.
This could take the form of feedback forms that measure Customer Satisfaction Index or CSI, mystery audits, focus group sessions, repeat patronage figures as well as bottomline indicators.
To conclude, a process map for a company’s customer experience journey was shared by Lynda. It comprised the following series of steps:
Identify sense of purpose –> Define customer experience vision statement –> Define customer experience standards –> Pilot-test customer experience standards –> Revise customer experience standards –> Train/coach and communicate on customer experience standards –> Conduct mystery audit –> Plan & implement Reward & Recognition system (which loops back to the beginning).
Do you have any tips on achieving customer experience excellence? Do share them with me!