In The Art of Customer Service, two business authorities introduce the new discipline of Service Design and reveal why trying new strategies for pleasing customers isn’t enough to differentiate your business-it needs to be designed for service from the ground up. Woo, Wow, and Win reveals the importance of designing your company around service and offers clear, practical strategies based on the idea that the design of services is markedly different than manufacturing
Based on a book by Thomas A. Stewart & Patricia O’Connell, entitled The Art of Customer Service: WOO, WOW AND WIN.
Author Thomas A. Stewart gave an example on his experience when he stayed at a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando, Florida. Arriving after a long flight, Stewart was tired. He was relieved to find he could register quickly. He appreciated that the front desk clerk was professional. She gave him his key and directions to his casita.
Disney World is a huge and rambling entertainment complex. Despite the concierge’s directions, Stewart wandered around for 20 minutes. Three of the four hotel buildings were clearly marked, but not the fourth, which contained his room. Stewart couldn’t find an employee to give him directions. By the time he reached his room, Stewart was a worn out and unhappy Disney customer.
Stewart’s dissatisfaction had nothing to do with customer service but rather with his personal experience with regard to the business and premise. The front-desk service had been excellent, and his casita was comfortable. Disney World could have anticipated and prevented Stewart’s problem, as well as the dilemma of other confused guests, by having “golf carts and drivers” available to deliver people to their rooms. This might make financial sense for a luxury resort, but not for Walt Disney World, which serves the needs of families and conventioneers. Or at the very least, sign-post or sign-board which could point them in the right direction.
In this incident, Walt Disney World lacked great “service design and delivery,” or SD2, which calls for planning and delivering great service as an essential part of any offer. Service design includes service delivery. For example, as part of its overall SD2, the hotel could offer quality maps and install sufficient signage. It could offer interactive guides, like those on the Paris Metro, which show a wall map with buttons you push to learn your route.
Developing such service components requires having a customer-centric approach, whereby service designers imagine all the individual steps clients may take as part of their experiential journey with a firm. Before providing a service, the service designer walks in the “customers’ shoes.”
Customer Service: Plan Great Service
Providing excellent service depends on being proactive and building it into your operations, just as intuitiveness is “designed into an iPad.” While most companies assert their allegiance to customer service, few incorporate designing the customer experience as a vital component of their operations.
Providing quality service is not automatic in most service-industry companies. They generally base their processes on manufacturing metrics – the “quantity and quality of output: how many widgets, how few defects.” But such a model addresses production, not service. SD2 is service-based; its goal is consistent “grade-A service experiences” – a win-win for the company and the consumer. SD2 enables leaders to make and execute sensible decisions about their customer service strategy. Think of SD2 as “consciously constructed connective tissue” uniting your “strategy, business plan, and operating system.”
Customer Service: The Ahhh, the Ow, and the Aha
SD2 won’t work unless you target your most important “customer interactions” and design them with 10 core elements in mind. This requires managing the ‘Ahhh’, the ‘Ow’ and the ‘Aha’ moments you generate for your customers.
An ‘Ahhh’ moment is when something good happens that makes customers feel positive about a company and confident they are going to get the experience they expect, such as being able to easily navigate an 800-number phone tree to get through to the right person.
An ‘Ow’ moment is the opposite of an ‘Ahhh’ moment. In an ‘Ow’ moment, customers experience something negative that makes them disinclined to do business with you again. “They may complete the deal or transaction, may even come back, but something is broken.”
An ‘Aha’ moment comes when executives acknowledge customers’ ‘Ahhh’ and ‘Ow’ moments, is an important means for quality feedback which leaders of the business can interpret what they mean for the future of the business, and dig into the SD2 work required to correct the problem and improve on customer retention and satisfaction. A customer’s ‘Ow’ moment is a signal to improve the experience. Every ‘Aha’ moment means leaders are on the right path.
Customer Service: The 10 Elements of SD2
SD2 is not a one-off event or a series of disconnected interactions between a company and its customers. It is a journey that is designed in accordance with a company’s strategy to meet and manage customer expectations. You do well, and then you continue to do your best, often in new ways as you learn and develop your products or services. Great service design and delivery mean aligning your firm’s strategic goals with the needs of your customers. Fulfil 10 strategic dimensions:
- “Empathy” – When it comes to product design, value your “customer’s point of view.” Empathy requires appreciating what clients experience with your business.
- “Expectation” – Understand what customers expect from you and what you can realistically deliver.
- “Emotion” – Anticipate your customers’ feelings and design your services accordingly.
- “Elegance” – Provide “clean” and “simple” goods or services.
- “Engagement” – Communicate with your customers so you know what they want and expect. Find ways to engage your customers – to have them become active participants with you in the creation and delivery of service.
- “Execution” – Always deliver on your promises.
- “Engineering” – Provide products or services that exemplify technical excellence.
- “Economics” – Set prices that give customers real value and provide the desired profit.
- “Experimentation” – Innovate by testing new things and following the best results.
- “Equivalence” – Your customers are happy with you and you are happy, too.
Use these 10 elements to create your “SD2 report card” and give yourself a score. Rate your company according to each factor. Use a zero-to-four scale, with zero meaning “We don’t do this at all” and four meaning “We’re world-class.” Use this report card as a baseline for upgrading your SD2 performance.
Customer Service: The Five Principles of SD2
The five SD2 principles are “rooted in good business and management practices.” They are:
1. Identify, Pursue, and Serve Your “Right Customers”
Determine which customers are best for your brand and focus on them. Once you identify the right customers for your offerings, design your services to be right for them. This strategic targeting refines your brand to be as perfect as possible for your ideal customers. This means you won’t spend time, money or resources on customers who don’t make sense for you. Focus on “your most valuable customers”: loyalists who spend the maximum amounts on their transactions and regularly give you a significant share of their purchasing power. Proper targeting requires disregarding clients who aren’t right for you. Don’t pursue or retain demanding, difficult clients.
2. Customers Want to Be Delighted
“Don’t surprise and delight your customers – just delight them.” They want your product or service to be reliable and excellent. Meet their expectations with no guesses or surprises by providing an overall satisfying experience. Define the delight you deliver to customers on “your own terms.” Delight represents your customers’ experiences (how good were they?) multiplied by your “technical excellence” (how well did you deliver them?). Ensure that customers know what to expect as they move from one touch-point to another. Such delight will “woo, wow, and win” customers.
3. Make It Easy for Staff to Deliver Great Service and for Clients to Work with You
Your service design program should be “efficient, effective, scalable and, if not error-proof, error-resistant.” Your goal is for your employees to deliver excellent customer experiences with minimal effort. Just as important is the acknowledgement that your customers should not have to waste their time and effort. Customers should be able to experience your products or services just as easily. Your clients become co-creators of a shared experience as you become expert at delighting them by delivering what they want without wasting their time or money – or yours.
4. Deliver High-Quality Service at Every Customer Touch-point and in Every Channel
Customers should have positive experiences whether they visit your store or office, navigate to your website or call your 800 number. Be sure that moving from one touch-point to another and between channels is effortless and always makes customers feel like they are in your hands. For example, customers shopping online should find checkout painless and intuitive. If customers need to return something in person that they ordered online, that should be simple, too. Your firm needs a coherent approach for SD2 to work, so “wherever and however you choose to play, you must play well.”
5. You’re Never Done: Routinely Reinvent and Modernize Your Service and Offerings
You must manage the life cycle of your customer service as carefully as you manage the life cycles of your products. View your services as “non-static, organic, and constantly open to change and improvement.” Update the look and feel of your business to stay current.
Customer Service: Service Design Archetypes
In every industry, some companies compete on price, luxury brands, and innovators. These “service design archetypes” represent different value propositions and ways of going to market. Archetypes help companies figure out which customer experiences to offer.
Consider how firms outside your industry that share your archetype provide superior customer service and see if you can learn from them. For example, Apple modelled its Genius Bar after the Four Seasons’ hotel concierge desk. The nine service design archetypes are:
- “The Aggregator” – Like eBay, these firms are “one-stop shops” that provide different products and services.
- “The Bargain” – Like Walmart, these firms are price leaders in their industries.
- “The Classic” – Like Mercedes, these firms offer luxury within their overall industry.
- “The Old Shoe” – Like Cracker Barrel or local coffee shops, these companies are familiar, reliable and comfortable. Often, they are hometown companies.
- “The Safe Choice” – Like Disney or Hilton, these firms often work well for everyone.
- “The Solution” – Like IBM and ADP, these brands solve complex problems.
- “The Specialist” – Like Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, these firms focus on specific products or services.
- “The Trendsetter” – Like Uber, Zara, Bard College, or Virgin Atlantic, these companies are first-movers in their fields.
- “The Utility” – Government agencies, like the postal service, public utilities and similar companies provide critical services to broad segments of the population. They are often regulated.
The Importance of Customer Capital
Every time a consumer comes away feeling good about a touch-point, you develop valuable customer capital. Every negative customer experience diminishes customer capital. The more customer capital you amass, the more loyal your customers will be and the more they will contribute to your sales and profits. “When service is designed well and delivered expertly, it is because there is alignment among your strategic goals, your customer’s wants and needs, and what actually happens between you.