Setting Customer Expectations

diagram of customer needsWhen a company does what it says it is going to do then builds trust between the company and the customer. When a company fails to fulfill a promise, the opposite can happen. Recently, our local water supplier spent a couple of days in our road, dealing with a leak outside our house. When they departed, they left a lot of stones on the lawn, which would have been dangerous and would have blunted the blade on my lawnmower, had I not spent several minutes picking them up. It struck me as being very slovenly. However I received a very nice note through the door, explaining how much the company tries to improve the customer experience and inviting me to let them know if I was happy with their work. I therefore rang them to let them know about the stones on the lawn. Since I had removed the stones, there was no point in asking them to come back, so I just registered my comment and said there was no need to do any remedial work. However, the lady, who answered the phone, said that someone would phone me back after lunch. This did not happen, which annoyed me more than the original problem, because I felt that I had a promise that something would be done and it wasn’t. I had been encouraged by the first call to believe that the poor service was an exception but, having been let down by the lack of a call back, I rather believe that the poor service was not an exception. The lesson is, carry through on your promises.

Thank you to Keith for this week’s post.

JD Wetherspoon: Value For Money?

interior of pub
The Punch Bowl Pub

I have just returned from a week’s holiday in York and wanted to share with readers the excellent marketing strategy that Wetherspoon’s have adopted.

The pub seemed to be continuously busy whenever we passed it.   In the early morning, it was busy with people having a cooked breakfast. At lunchtime, people were enjoying either a cooked meal or a lighter cold lunch like a Panini or a sandwich.  The evenings were positively buzzing with crowds of people. Tourists, students and families all congregated, sharing tables with strangers until every seating place was filled.

Wetherspoon’s know precisely who their target market is.  We wanted to spend our money on sightseeing and shopping, rather than on expensive meals.  Every day of the week the Wetherspoon pub ran a special offer – Mexican Monday offered burritos at a special price, Tuesday was steak, Wednesday chicken, Thursday curry and finally Friday was of course fish night.

Each evening the Wetherspoon pub fulfilled our need for a hot, balanced and filling meal, washed down with a very reasonably priced glass of wine.  On our last evening we both had steak, jacket potato and vegetables plus a bottle of wine between us.  The whole meal cost just £18.95, which seemed incredible considering that the wine could have easily cost that amount on its own!

The only downside was that some evenings we had to wait to find a table and to be served.  However, we were able to pass the time in an enjoyable manner by chatting to strangers.  The camaraderie was excellent.  The staff were also very friendly despite the fact that they had to work at a fast pace. There was no slack for them!  Unfortunately tables were not always cleared immediately or wiped adequately.

If you are looking for a quiet and intimate environment, with attention to detail and all the trimmings then this pub would not be for you.  However if, like us, you want a good value meal in a warm, friendly and cosy environment, along with a wide range of cheap beverages, then head down to your local Wetherspoon pub.

Thank you to Alison for this week’s post.

Do your customers feel welcome?

image of yoga class
Yoga Class

Yesterday morning I decided that I was going to take part in a yoga class. I had visited three different branches of a sports shop recently and I was aware that each branch offered complimentary yoga classes. The difference between the three stores was that only one of them had actually taken the opportunity to invite me to their yoga class. While I was in the store, a friendly employee had told me that they ran yoga classes every Sunday. She informed me that they even provided the mats and said that there was normally space for everyone who turned up. This invite left me feeling welcome. Therefore I chose to go to this store over the others who had not invited me. It is human nature to need to feel wanted. Customers are no different to humans! Research by McKinsey has shown that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. I felt good to be invited to the class. It made me feel as though I could belong in their ‘club’. The instinct to want to belong also left me feeling as though I wanted to purchase the clothing from the store so that I could fit in with the other people in the yoga class.

As it happened, the yoga class exceeded my expectations. The staff thanked me for coming even though it was a free class! The class started on time. I was thanked and wished a good day as I left the store after the class. The class was challenging and I can feel the pain / benefits today!

Even if you are not running any events, there are many other ways of making customers feel encouraged to return.  Three examples are below:

  • Tell the customer your name and contact details. Let them know what days you are working so that they know when they may come back to see you.
  • Tell the customer about a new item that will be arriving soon in the store.
  • Explain to the customer how they can earn loyalty points on future visits.

What experiences have you had that have left you feeling welcome? It would be great to hear your stories in the comments below.

The Importance of Feeling Important

very important customer quote
This week I am returning to my experience in a cycle store, as published two weeks ago. You can review the post here: Learning something new
I realised that there was another very important factor as to why this experience was so good. Effectively, I had two employees assisting me at the same time. This left me feeling like a Very Important Customer (VIC). Here at the Experience Boutique we believe that customer service and employee engagement are intrinsically interlinked. Customers and employees alike want to feel important and valued. In the TV show ‘Undercover Boss’ my favourite part of the show is the final part. The employees realise how important and valued they are within the business.

Here are a few suggestions that can make your customers feel important:
• If an appointment has been arranged, make sure that your front of house staff know about it. This allows them to show the client that you were expecting them before they even have to state who they are.
• Make notes during the consultation to show that you are listening.
• Repeat the customer’s needs back to them to show that you were listening and understood what they wanted.
• Tell the customer why a particular item or service could solve their unique challenge.
• Invite them to return to the store for a particular reason that is unique to them.

References: Undercover Boss

Employee Engagement

quote about employee engagement
In last week’s post, I spoke about some highly motivated and engaged employees in a cycle store. Extensive research has been carried out which has closely linked employee engagement to customer experience. Dan Pink carried out some research into the key factors that motivate employees. He found that the three most important factors, apart from a fair monetary reward, were as follows:
Autonomy: Research shows that staff react better to being given guidelines, rather than strict rules that they need to follow. It is important to give staff some freedom to do the job the way they want to do it.
Mastery: People want to feel as though they are getting better at doing something that matters.
Purpose: It is natural for staff to want to make customers happy. It is important to publicise to staff what the business is working to achieve and why.

I will discuss some of these factors in greater depth in future posts. For now, I will refer back to my experience last week in the cycle store. I think we can see how some of these factors came into play. The staff member who wanted to learn from his colleague had enough autonomy to be honest about this without fear of being reprimanded. He was keen to master a new skill. The staff member saw an opportunity in learning more about the nutrition in their energy food to be able to make me and other customers happy in future = purpose. Furthermore research by the Temkin Group also showed that employees who feel as though they are contributing are 30% less likely to take more than one sick day. How do you implement these factors into your business? See you next week when we will be returning to the cycle store!


Learning Something New

selection of energy snacks A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about a friendly employee in a cycle store selling me unusual flavours of Mule Bars: Liquorice and Coconut.

This week I returned to a different branch of the same store. I asked an employee for some advice on some snacks to take with me on a long bike ride. The employee directed me to another staff member who was more of an expert in that area and would be better positioned to advise me. He said, however, that he would listen while his colleague told me about the products as he was keen to learn more about them. I thought that this store had a fantastic ethos and team spirit. I could see that the staff were passionate about creating a great experience for their customers. The employee who I initially spoke to was motivated by being able to learn new information and he wasn’t afraid to let me know that a colleague could teach him a few things. A great team effort! Next week’s post will continue this theme by discussing how staff can be motivated by being given the chance to master a new skill or gain new knowledge.

Make Up Tips

image of make upWhen I have a positively memorable experience as a customer, I like to reflect on the reasons why. For example, last week I visited a make up counter.  In terms of concealer, I am a typical Touche Eclat girl. The artist at this make up counter explained that using a concealer with an orange tone can be good to combat the typical blue / green tint of under eye circles. She explained that another lighter coloured concealer can be used on top to reflect the light.  I tried this method for myself at home the next day and found that it certainly did work. My skin went from looking dull and tired to appearing radiant and glowing = a happy customer!  Another thing that the artist told me was that I suited strong eyeliner as I have big eyes.  It is always nice to receive advice / a compliment that I know is personalised to me.  I could tell that the artist enjoyed putting the eyeliner on me as she was able to use her skills to produce a striking effect. I left the counter that day feeling good!

Liquorice and Coconut??

three Mule barsThis week I visited some cycling stores.  In one store, I decided to purchase a ‘Liquorice Allsports’ Mule Bar.  This contained Liquorice and Coconut plus fennel seed. I took it to the till point, where I was served by a very cheerful and friendly assistant.  He asked me whether I had tried this bar before.  I told him that I hadn’t and that I liked unusual flavours.  He laughed and said that it was certainly an unusual flavour.  He said that when I return to the store to buy another bar he will be keen to hear what I thought of it.  What a fantastic way to invite a customer back to the store!  I don’t have plans to return, but I actually wish that I did as I would have liked the chance to tell the staff member what I thought of it. Have you got any examples of being invited back somewhere as a customer? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comment field below.