Archive for customer experience

Building the Ultimate Customer Experience

Strategic Sense, in addition to providing Leadership Training, has made a commitment to highlight some of the remarkable authors, leadership professionals and business people we’ve had the great fortune of meeting and working with over the last 3 years. On Wednesdays you will see guest-posts from some of these folks. All are leaders in their field and have solutions to some of our biggest workplace issues. Such as Dr. Ellen Weber, Director at Mita International Brain Center who wrote about brain based approaches to innovation.

Today’s Guest Post is by Jeffrey Summers, the President and Founder of RestaurantWorx whose full-service, national and international, Hospitality Coaching and Consulting firm in Dallas, Texas guides clients to bring their customer experiences to new heights.

And now, here’s Jeffrey…

Customer ExperienceThe Experience

The customer experience is your product. It is the sum total of every interaction a customer has with your brand at every touchpoint. Equally critical is the employee experience. Both should be given equal validity, weight and attention when discussing, analyzing or creating the ultimate customer experience.

Most business owners/managers will tell you that most of this is out of their control or direct influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are 5 critical tools you can use to design and deliver a superior customer and employee experience.


As one writer summed up it up recently, “Culture trumps strategy, every time.” Culture is critical in understanding, defining and executing the desired actions and behaviors by employees in order to ensure a superior customer experience. Culture is what happens in the absence of direct supervision or company policy. It’s what an employee does when confronted with a customer situation that wasn’t covered in their training or ongoing coaching by their supervisor. It’s also a critical decision-point which can make or break the customer experience and ultimately determine the success or failure of the business.

Culture is also the area in which you must align all of your businesses goals, values and processes with those of your employees and customers in order to achieve the necessary level of customer-centrism, cooperation, trust and execution.

Buyer & Employee Persona’s

The ‘Buyer Persona’ is critical to knowing and understanding who your target market is and what issues and behaviors you need to influence in order to increase the desired purchase or loyalty behaviors you want to see from them. It answers the two critical questions about your customers, ‘How can we influence this person to buy from us’ and ‘What issues or attitudes prevent them from buying from us.’ Essentially it defines what is important to them and what is not.

Without knowing the answers to these and similar questions, all of your marketing efforts will be in vain at most or just shots in the dark at the least.

Likewise, it is equally important to understand and create a similar ‘Employee Persona’ that matches and aligns with the company’s goals, values and processes in order to successfully execute your customer experience.

Voice-of-the-Customer & Voice-of-the-Employee

Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) and Voice-of-the-Employee (VoE) programs are extremely important to your experience building success because it gives you the much needed measurement of your experience and ongoing experience building efforts. The value of gathering customer feedback, information analysis, the resulting process and experience changes and performance monitoring is immeasurable. This is where you can better understand and influence the loyalty drivers of your employees and customers by engaging them in the very process of experience design.

Experience Design

This is the overt process of mapping out your customer experience by analyzing each and every customer or employee touch-point. Then utilizing your VoC & VoE information to determine the what, where and how to add meaningfully differentiated value to each one in order to create the best experiences possible. This ongoing process of measuring, analyzing then refining not only applies to the customer experience, but the employee experience also as you cannot disconnect front-line employees from the process.


Coaching employees and staff is absolutely critical to ensuring that you have not only their input and buy-in into the customer experience building process but also their understanding and participation in the necessary culture and ongoing process refinement that ensures future success as well.

Let’s also not forget that the process of building the ultimate employee experience is similar and just as important and critical to your success as it is in building the ultimate customer experience. Employees are your ‘Brand Ambassadors’ and are directly responsible for executing all levels of the customer experience. Not embracing this part of the program will render the rest of it worthless.

Jeffrey Summers is a 29 year veteran of creating, operating, Coaching and consulting with successful food service & hospitality concepts that include national and international chains, franchises and independent operators. He is an award winning business Coach, consultant, speaker, writer and blogger.
Jeffrey is also the president and founder of RestaurantWorx™, a full-service, national and international, Hospitality Coaching and consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas. Besides helping clients achieve success by working with them one-on-one, he frequently speaks at and attend numerous industry events as well as at local, state and national small business groups in order to share his passion for the business of food and hospitality.

Jeffrey can be reached through his company’s website at: RestaurantWorx™ and you will find him on Twitter providing great content for his followers.

Patti Blackstaffe, President of Strategic Sense Inc, is a Speaker, Strategic Advisor and Trainer in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition.You can book her to speak at her personal page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Read what folks have to say about her eBook Leadership XXL: 11 Practical Steps to Living Leadership Extra, Extra Large.

Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there, and call us. (403) 201-8512


Make YOUR company a Cirque Du Soleil

This evening I had the pleasure of celebrating my birthday a little early by attending KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil, a gift from my kids (thanks kids). What a show – between the antics, the acrobatics and the feats of amazement, I could not help thinking about how all our companies could learn a thing or two in both customer service and leadership.

Here are a few of my observations:

1. Not just any old circus

The quality of each and every act is superior to any show I have witnessed. Painstaking detail goes into every costume, all the makeup, the lighting, the sounds and especially safety. With the maintenance of equipment, upkeep of fabrics for costumes, and the polished shine on the metal parts to catch the light, it is all miraculously new-looking and beautiful, despite hundreds of previous shows. NO cutting costs for cheaper fabrics that don’t stretch with the body, cheaper makeup that runs when you sweat, low-cost equipment – nope, because this is a class act.

There will be no oil leak at this Cirque!

2. Everyone is a star in this gig

If you are a trapeze artist, there’s a good chance you will be moving sets and removing items from the stage. If you have some other talent in your past that would be beneficial like massage therapy or plumbing, you may be asked to provide that as well.

There are no headliners or heroes. Everyone is a star in this gig – you have talent, well, chances are you were gifted with more than one and your job is to not only contribute those talents but also support the talent of others in every way possible by pitching in on everything you can.

Get over yourself – get into the team.

3. Don’t show the customer the cogs, give them what they came for

We went to Cirque du Soleil to be entertained, and entertained we were. There are a ton of mechanical, technical and physical adjustments between acts, but we were barely aware they were taking place because of the high-energy, excitement going on all around us. The clever distractions and crazy antics kept us highly entertained and laughing the whole way through. And then suddenly, we became aware that they’d put together rigging right there out in the open for the next act, and we barely noticed its arrival because we were so caught up with the fun of the show.

This is how the best of the best make your life happy as a customer, they make your experience seamless and fun. You don’t notice how hard they are working in the background to deliver your product and you don’t have to care.

Getting great service or a great experience should be just that, great!

4. Surprise EVERYONE

This is the third Cirque du Soleil show I have attended and I never grow weary of them. Why? I am always pleasantly surprised. They don’t do this with any one thing; it is the combination of things that offer me continual enchantment, so much so I forget to blink in the event I may miss something. There is action happening at every level, every corner of the facility or tent to keep me in amazement. I have a hard time finding anything at all to complain about because of the perpetual activity that astounds me.

If you have one department that truly shines above all others according to customer response, then learn from these folks, because EVERY department needs to shine and surprise. This means learning how to become a company that always exceeds customer expectation rather than meeting it.

Think Apple.

We cannot all be Cirque du Soleil, but we can certainly learn a lot about business and leadership by being one of their customers, I recommend you attend and while you are there, observe, learn and figure out how you can implement.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


3 Reasons Why Service Trumps Efficiency

Bacon.and.EggsLast week I was in a local all day breakfast restaurant and was being served by a young woman who was exceptionally efficient. She worked hard, she worked fast and she had a bright smile. When we were seated she offered coffee, put menus down and got on with her very busy morning of completing the opening duties.

I would guess she was one of their best, and her interpretation of her ‘best job’ action was obviously being the most efficient, fastest server in the place. But we left feeling like we had not really “been served”. Here are 3 easy things she might have done to make it a better experience.

Service is about asking the customer what they want. Only once did she ask us a question, and that was well after we received our bill. She “stated” things. “I will take your order now” “You have coffee, ketchup, jam, cream – good you are all set.” But she did miss some things, of course in her efficiency she did not wait to find out what that might be.

Service is about listening. When she took our orders, she heard my first choice and quickly moved on (cutting me off) to take my breakfast companion’s order, then off she ran to efficiently get those meals for us. What she missed was that we wanted orange juice, a side of bacon and some fruit with that. We never did get the chance to order it.

Service is about watching customer cues. I believe this server would have caught the up-sell and gained a bigger sale, made two people happier and combined her winning smile with a more pleasurable experience had she simply stopped long enough to notice our clues, we were looking to order more.

The food was great, the server pleasant, the atmosphere was exactly what we were looking for. Was the service exactly what the restaurant was hoping the staff accomplish? Chances are it was, often times training and leadership in organizations put focus on efficiency but forget to impress on the staff, “…but not at the expense of the customer experience.” Imagine, if you will, what an unbelievable server she could be if her employer were noticing and coached her to raise a bar one level, combining her smile, efficiency and speed with asking, listening and watching.

Service is all about the customer experience. One can get food at home, one can eat anywhere, but the general rule of thumb is; when our customers do business with us, they want it to be the most satisfying experience for their money spent. People rarely go out for the most efficient experience for their money spent.


How Many Customers Did Your Staff Lose Today?

GiftCardEver heard an employee say, “It was only one customer, what are you so hung up about?”
What if you could keep accurate metrics on the number of customers chased away by your staff?

First, a little story told to me by a friend – then onto customer service metrics!!

My friend was given a gift certificate to a local establishment that provides a Dinner Theatre Mystery Night and 4 Course meal. Unfortunately, due to the rarity of the number of Mystery Theatre nights (approx 1/month) and the high volume of travel required by my friend’s job, he was unable to use the gift certificate within the time frame of the 1 year expiry date.

Since purchased, Alberta law changed on November 1, 2008 stating that all gift certificates and gift cards issued will no longer be allowed to state an expiry date. That law also includes gift cards purchased before November 1, 2008 so long as they did not expire before the Nov.1 date.

They phone to finally book a dinner on one of the available Mystery Nights, but were greeted with a sour Food and Beverage Manager who simply asked the date the gift certificate was issued, then abruptly stated;

“The legislation did not come into effect until after that gift certificate was bought so it’s valid for a year only, sorry, it’s expired. If you would like to purchase two tickets, I will need a credit card number.”

That is it, not only did she misinterpret the legislation, she was rude and curt! My friend would have accepted a courtesy of at least being listened to, or considered he was a customer, especially since the tickets are valued at 75.00 each. A single 150.00 purchase is worth something to the business, no? It is to me when I shop!

My friend says:

She could have offered to extend the certificate, give us a discount to another function or even just said “I’m sorry, the certificate you have has expired; we can’t honour it but would still be happy to have you as a guest for dinner…”

Lets look at the metrics!

2 = Pissed-off customers this week

8 = The number of people they told (say each of those pissed off customers tell 4 people – conservative estimate.)

10 = 2 pissed off customers + 8 good friends. Lets say those 8 share it with 1 person each.

26 = 2 pissed off customers+8 people they told + the additional individuals those 8 shared with.

Multiply that by how many weeks your business is open to the public (typically 52)

1352 = 2 pissed off customers per week chased away from your business x 52 weeks a year.

A similar encounter every week will guarantee 1352 people within their marketing reach WILL NOT do business with that company or organization due to a story of poor customer service told by someone, and people always listen to those they love and trust.

How does a 21st century consumer make a purchase?

  • They shop from emotion
  • They want a relationship with the business.
  • They want to feel good about how hard they work
  • They want their money going to an organization that deserves to receive it
  • They want a positive experience.

Are consumers really buying your goods or services – NO! They are buying the experience and the relationship. We have all the ‘stuff’ we need, consumers shop and spend because they can and they want to feel good doing it.

If you are not clear with your front line staff as to what that looks like, then I can guarantee you will be suffering –
Let’s take it a little farther – let’s say only 5% of that total number would really have purchased from them based on referrals from satisfied and happy customers.

68 = approximately 5% of 1352 customers.

$5100.00 = per year of lost sales on an average 75.00 purchase. Are you okay tossing that money in the trash?

Now let’s consider that those 68 people may very well have a spouse or friend they would prefer to attend a Mystery Dinner Theatre Night with. WOW, are you as a business willing to toss a potential of $10,200.00 a year down the drain?

So, when an employee says, “It was only 1 person, what are you so hung up about?” That person is NOT suited for frontline service delivery, customer complaints or technical support, (certainly not without training).

Is it worth an investment of 20-50 bucks to gain a loyal customer – you tell me!

Care for your customers and train your staff! Leadership is directly tied to customer service – for every loyal happy customer, you could be making the difference between surviving this economic downturn or closing the shop!

NOTE: I called the organization my friend was talking about – mainly to find out about their gift certificate policy.

  1. They did say gift certificates no longer expire and there are no other conditions.
  2. They told me if I wanted to purchase new ones I best do it at next year’s prices, as this year is getting filled up
  3. When I asked how often they had the theatre, they said once a month, but less this year because there has been a huge slow down (really?)
  4. They were very curt and not at all interested in listening – only ‘telling’
  5. This is NOT the first time I have heard poor feedback on this particular organization

Need I name them? No, they are doing enough damage to themselves!