Viewing Your Business Through Your Customers’ Eyes
If you read the earlier posts in this series, you already know that customer-first companies:
- Make “it” easy
- Manage expectations
- Keep you informed
- Keep their word
In the last post, we learned that becoming a customer-first company (when your definition of good enough meets or exceeds the consumer’s definition of good enough) leads to a higher brand perception. More specifically, when you provide a great customer experience, whatever “it” you provide your customers is regarded higher/better/greater than it would otherwise be.
Chick-fil-A makes a very good chicken sandwich, yet their brand perception elevates the relative quality of their offering above where it would be if the identical sandwich were served virtually anywhere else. The opposite is also true. Depending on the location, the chicken sandwich offered from other fast-food restaurants like Popeyes, Arby’s, McDonald’s, or KFC can be regarded as either great or garbage, often due solely to the overall customer experience.
If you’re committed to this CX thing and you want to improve your brand’s perception, just start making “it” easy, start managing expectations, start keeping customers informed, and start keeping your word. In even simpler terms, just start delivering a customer-first experience… every time… with every customer.
The best part is that delivering a great customer experience is not just ridiculously simple, it’s that the solutions are often so recognizable that you’ll kick yourself for not recognizing them before.
Duh Customer Service
While it’s possible that a customer issue can be caused by some complicated and (perhaps) necessary mechanism in your organization, the reality is that nearly all bad customer experiences are avoidable. That is, if you see your business as your customers see it.
Customer-first companies, of course, already work to view everything through their customers’ eyes. For the rest of you, we call this Duh Customer Service – where the difference between a bad experience and a great experience is blatantly obvious and easily avoidable (to anyone thinking customer-first).
We’ve been there and you’ve been there. You enter the restaurant. You spy as many as thirty empty tables and just six tables with guests. The restaurant has two servers working. Where have they seated these guests? In clusters right next to each other. No spacing. No private conversations. No thought about the customer experience. The only thought – if you can call it that – is for the two employees who apparently don’t like to walk more than one step between tables. Anyone who’s managed a restaurant knows this isn’t customer-first, yet it happens all the time.
As guests, we see this clearly. As restaurant employees, we do not.
It’s not that the employees of the restaurant are uncaring. It’s not that they want to create a sub-par customer experience. It’s not that they want to reduce the potential size of their tips. It’s simply that they’re not thinking. Not thinking, that is, about what is best for their customers.
Your Customers’ Eyes
Creating a great customer experience – a truly exceptional experience that will keep customers coming back in droves – is not hard. Again, let’s look at Chick-fil-A. They serve a simple fried chicken sandwich, though they’re regularly lauded as providing an unequalled customer experience. It’s not the fried chicken sandwich that fills their restaurants (and allows them to generate more revenue per location than Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, and Subway combined), it’s common manners coupled with quick and friendly service.
It’s seeing their business through the eyes of their customers and understanding what their customers expect, and then ensuring everything they do is focused on meeting these expectations. When your company begins doing this, you’ll reduce the amount of time and energy you spend trying to solve customer service issues and/or responding to negative online reviews.
You see, Chick-fil-A doesn’t solve many customer service issues because they don’t have many customer service issues. Everything they’ve designed was created to move the customer through as efficiently as possible without sacrificing the quality of their chow. It’s simple… just like their menu.
Chick-fil-A, we would argue, sees their restaurants through their customers’ eyes. How is your team doing with this? Do they see their job, their day, their workspace, and their routine through only their eyes? Or do they see everything through the customers’ eyes?
Of course, if they did see everything through the eyes of your customers, you’d already know that. You would know that because your establishment would be as full as a Chick-fil-A at noon. Your customers would be as happy as the family that just received their meal from a friendly Chick-fil-A server. Your online reviews would be loaded with people giddy about the experience they enjoyed while spending money with you.
Do The Thinking For Them
If you’re the owner, a company executive, or a manager, it’s your job to do the thinking for your team. Most employees are not automatically programmed to deliver a great experience. And those who are will usually get swallowed up and forced to conform to bad standards by a lousy organization within a few weeks.
There’s some good news and great news about leading people that we’d like to share.
The good news is that if employees always did what was best, we never would’ve invented your job. The great news is this means you only need to train and reinforce best practices every single day for the rest of your working life.
Do you think the Chick-fil-A corporation ever relaxes their standards just because they’re better than the rest? That would be foolish, of course. If the Chick-fil-A corporation ever stopped holding their franchisees to their customer-first standards, they would soon find their franchisees, managers, and employees drifting to the dark side. It’s human nature to make one’s own life easier.
No inspections from the regional managers? No longer a need to pay someone to constantly keep the restrooms clean. No need to hire the best cashiers, since they can get a warm body at a 30% discount on what they’re paying today. No need to staff the kitchen with enough cooks since customers will only have to wait a few extra minutes for their orders.
Fast forward a few months, and your local Chick-fil-A location would be closed because their profits no longer covered their rent.
Of course, if you saw the restrooms, the service your cashiers provide, and the timeliness and quality of your food through your customers’ eyes, you’d never make those decisions. However, your managers and employees just might!
If you want to ensure your team is always providing an exceptional customer experience, just make the effort to see the business through the eyes of your customers. Among other things, this may include driving into your customer parking lot and walking into your establishment as if it’s the first time you’ve ever visited. It may include calling your business phone number, using your website’s online chat, and/or completing a contact form on your website and asking questions your customers might ask.
Would you rave about what you found? Would you pay extra for that experience? Or would you realize that your team is merely thinking about themselves and not how any of this impacts the customer experience?
A Great Customer Experience
When you and your team start viewing your business through the eyes of your customers, you’ll quickly learn what it’s going to take to begin creating great customer experiences with each interaction by making “it” easy. If you’re willing to proactively solve the issues you uncover with your new vantage point, you’ll find that everything else will become easier. It will be easier to retain good employees, it will be easier to retain your customers, and it will even be easier to raise prices, if necessary. All of this will be easier because your brand perception will be higher, as you’re now delivering a great customer experience.
This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience, a book written for everyone in any organization that has customers. That is, it was written for those in both the public and private sector; and for everyone in these organizations. From the frontline, customer-facing employees to the CEO and board of directors.
Each chapter in Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience concludes with Key Learnings and Chapter Exercises to make certain you and your team take the efficient path to becoming Customer-First. As you’ll learn in this ridiculously short book, building and maintaining a CX juggernaut isn’t hard… in fact, it’s ridiculously simple. Buy it now on Amazon!