CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Are You Boring Your Customers?

On my last trip to the bank I realized how boring the entire process had become—walk-in, complete the transaction, and leave—yawn. I have been a member of this bank for more than 10 years and the experience hasn’t changed—I am just more aware of it.

Customer Experience

The same people that have worked there for 20 years are sitting at their same desks with little to no enthusiasm—they simply exist. In fact, as crazy as this may sound, I find myself trying to motivate them if I spend too much time in the waiting area.  I have a better customer experience at the dairy farm where I purchase a $5 gallon of milk than I do at the business that holds the majority of my life savings. Something is wrong with this picture!

 

I believe that there are a lot of customers out there just like me. They get used to doing business with a company for so long that they become numb to the customer experience — and they settle for boring. Then one day a new business comes along that delivers a great experience with “a cherry on top” and it makes you realize that you have options—better ones.

1.    ADD A CHERRY ON TOP

A friend recently sent me a text about a kid’s club program being offered at one of the new banks in town. She stated in her text that they offered a great interest rate on this account and unique rewards for the kids, too. I thought it would be a great educational experience for Owen, my 7 year old son, so we decided to pay them a visit.

Here is a brief summary of the experience:

As we walked through the door Owen and I were immediately greeted by an account representative by the name of Annie. She addressed Owen as “sir”— he was beaming!  He told her that he wanted to open a kid’s account and she proceeded to seat him at her desk and discuss the account details with him. This was only after she offered him a soda—he was in “tall cotton,” as we say here in Texas. At the end of the conversation she asked him, “Would you like to open an account today?” He responded by opening his wallet and dumping all of his change on her desk. When he had completed his paperwork she proceeded to show him where he would conduct his future transactions. As he turned the corner—his eyes enlarged 3 times. There sat a beautiful gold treasure box that was filled with the coolest toys. She told him that every time he makes a deposit into his account he can choose a gift from the treasure box. While the overall experience was fantastic—the treasure box was the “cherry on top” for Owen. Now we visit “his” bank at least once a week! As for my bank, I prefer the drive-thru window—quick and painless. I expect that I will be changing banks very soon.

The “cherry on top” is more than just how you interact with customers. In the case with the bank, it literally meant a surprise.

Customer

Most potential residents experience a similar script or pattern at each community they visit during their apartment search—the interaction with the leasing professional and the process becomes boring. While recent research shows that there are situations when customers don’t mind a sales script—there are other times that it really bothers them.

Get to the Core: New Research Shows Consumers Are Savvy to Scripted Service Encounters

Potential residents expect more than a pattern when it comes to looking for their next home. When you treat them unexpectedly with an additional positive experience, it will be noteworthy.

So, the next time a potential resident walks through your door be sure you make the effort to do something remarkable and positive when you talk with, meet, or serve them—they will notice—just like we did. 

 

2.    BE PREPARED

One of the best ways to keep customers coming back more often is by living the old Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Be prepared to take care of your customers better than anyone else can or will take care of them.

  • Impress them with your knowledge and they will tell their family and friends
  • Help them get what they want and need without hesitation and they’ll return

In my bank example, as a first step, Annie immediately acknowledged Owen. This was important to both of us. The treasure box was in its place and it was filled to the top. Had there only been a few junky toys left—he would have noticed and been very disappointed.

Too many times I have walked into a Leasing Office when the doors open for business and the employees are still scrambling around, checking voicemail and baking cookies. When the sign says you open for business at 9:00am you should be completely prepared at 9:00am to conduct business—not 9:15am.

 

3.    PAY ATTENTION TO THE CUSTOMER

Caring about the customer means that you respect and recognize them as “real” people. You are just one of many contacts that a customer will make throughout the day and it is important that you stand out. Annie knew by the look on my face as we entered through the door that this was about Owen—not me. She was paying attention and picked up on that very quickly, acknowledging and treating him accordingly. At one point someone tried to interrupt her while Owen was seated at her desk and she stated, “As soon as I am done helping this young man I will be there.” I thoroughly enjoyed watching this process and how Owen responded to each step.

It’s a good lesson in paying attention to your customer and what is going on around them. They will often give you clues that will help you pleasantly surprise them—not bore them.

 

4.    PAY ATTENTION TO THE ENVIRONMENT

The environment that an employee works in has a huge impact on their performance and the experience they create for the customer.  If they work for a boring company, in a boring work environment or even for a boring boss, it can be difficult to deliver a great customer experience.

When Woody Allen said, “There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?” he was not talking about MyInsuranceExpert.com. This is a company that recognized an opportunity to transform the customer experience and breathe new life into an industry that was in desperate need of a fresh approach. They began by transforming their employee work environment which they compare to being more like Facebook than Microsoft—a lot of fun! Watch their company video – definitely NOT boring!

Innovative companies are dedicated to a newness that keeps their customers coming back for more – always giving customers a reason to return for fresh experiences. Not only does this keep customers from becoming bored, but it gives customers ample reason to take out their wallets and dump their money on the desk — just like Owen did.

Are you delivering a boring experience to your customers and don’t realize it? If you aren’t sure just search for your community’s name on a ratings and review site — customer opinions are usually loud and clear.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

-Maria Lawson

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