How the smallest misalignment ruins your customer experience

Sad Tim At the post office the other day, a guy wearing a beautiful handmade scarf finishes his transaction and starts away from the counter. A small nail holding the molding apparently isn't hammered in all the way. It catches the scarf, pulls the threads and ruins the scarf. The man turns to the counter, looks at the postal worker who took his money and says, "There's a loose nail here, it just ruined my scarf." Tim, the postal worker, beaten down, tired, given up, stands behind the counter and barely makes eye contact. "Oh." End of interaction. When you allow (yes, allow) all humanity to be stripped from your day, all day, then what? via sethgodin.typepad.com You have a beautiful retail show room, cafe, hotel, airport.  You have thought out every little detail and connected it to be an efficient yet rewarding and transforming experience.  You have seen a wealth of customers follow the track you laid.  You have seen them leave as a happy and loyal customer. Then something unexpected happens, a customer complains to you. Something in your customers experience is out of sync. Perhaps it was the wear and tear, maybe it was something completely random, in any case, it affected your customer in a negative way. What do you do in a situation like this? There are two problems here. The nail, the ruined scarf, and Tim. How do you deal with these? The nail is the smallest problem, literally and figuratively. It can happen, it's possible that some of your equipment malfunctions, it's natural and expected. Just don't let it happen to often, and create a system that keeps an eye out for these misalignments. The ruined scarf, ah well, this one is tougher. Is the post office to blame for the scarf being ruined? Yes and no. In the end the post office is responsible for the experience including the small nail. Should the post office offer to replace the scarf? No. But that is not what this situation is about, this situation is about Tim. Tim is tired, he is overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated. To the point where he has retracted into his own little world without real consideration or connect with whomever he interacts. Prevent this. Hire staff which are intrinsically motivated by human contact. There are people who like to connect and people who don't. Choose the right ones.  Allow staff to be themselves. Often even extrovert staff are beaten down by rules and regulations. Guidelines are there to standardize the technical and liberate the interaction. Check out ACE hotels if you need an example. Staff are not your asset, they are your company, threat them as such.

Sad Tim

At the post office the other day, a guy wearing a beautiful handmade scarf finishes his transaction and starts away from the counter.

A small nail holding the molding apparently isn't hammered in all the way. It catches the scarf, pulls the threads and ruins the scarf. The man turns to the counter, looks at the postal worker who took his money and says, "There's a loose nail here, it just ruined my scarf."

Tim, the postal worker, beaten down, tired, given up, stands behind the counter and barely makes eye contact. "Oh."

End of interaction.

When you allow (yes, allow) all humanity to be stripped from your day, all day, then what?

You have a beautiful retail show room, cafe, hotel, airport. 
You have thought out every little detail and connected it to be an efficient yet rewarding and transforming experience. 
You have seen a wealth of customers follow the track you laid. 
You have seen them leave as a happy and loyal customer.

Then something unexpected happens, a customer complains to you.

Something in your customers experience is out of sync. Perhaps it was the wear and tear, maybe it was something completely random, in any case, it affected your customer in a negative way. What do you do in a situation like this? There are two problems here. The nail, the ruined scarf, and Tim. How do you deal with these?

The nail is the smallest problem, literally and figuratively. It can happen, it's possible that some of your equipment malfunctions, it's natural and expected. Just don't let it happen to often, and create a system that keeps an eye out for these misalignments.

The ruined scarf, ah well, this one is tougher. Is the post office to blame for the scarf being ruined? Yes and no. In the end the post office is responsible for the experience including the small nail. Should the post office offer to replace the scarf? No. But that is not what this situation is about, this situation is about Tim.

Tim is tired, he is overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated. To the point where he has retracted into his own little world without real consideration or connect with whomever he interacts. Prevent this.

  • Hire staff which are intrinsically motivated by human contact. There are people who like to connect and people who don't. Choose the right ones. 
  • Allow staff to be themselves. Often even extrovert staff are beaten down by rules and regulations. Guidelines are there to standardize the technical and liberate the interaction. Check out ACE hotels if you need an example.

Staff are not your asset, they are your company, threat them as such.