The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers. They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success. They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.[/content_box]
Fundamental #9: Create Memorable Customer Experiences
Do the unexpected. Create experiences that customers will tell stories about. Customer satisfaction is for lesser companies. Blow away customers with heroic customer service.
What is it that makes a memorable experience? Good or bad? Almost every one of our memorable experience have to do with a person. Whether it was good or bad most likely did not have so much to do with the circumstances, the location or the events, but the people involved. As I was thinking about this idea I started thinking about the experiences that come to mind. I was sitting on my deck just reminiscing about times gone by. From the seven years with ConnectSMART, the seventeen years I have been at Connections, and even prior – what are the memories that come up so quickly? Whether they bring with them emotions of happiness or more negative reactions, they all have a human element.
Dave and I have both related at different times our experience at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Although the food was great, the thing that stands out the most is the service. That made an excellent meal extraordinary! I was reminded of a show I watched quite some time ago Penn and Teller’s BullS**t! While the purpose of the series is about debunking popular beliefs or ideas the one I watched on fancy restaurants gave me another perspective. In the episode they have a cook literally throwing together the cheapest ingredients into a five course meal. From the two buck chuck described as a $90 bottle of wine, to the bruschetta which was canned tomatoes and vegetable oil on stale bread from the Korean bakery, to the tv dinner put on a plate with a couple of sprigs of parsley, the dinners bought into the concept of a fine dining experience and listening to the rave reviews of self-described foodies was hilarious. It was done to poke fun at the pretenses of so much of the foodie culture but it also showed to me how much of the experience was in the presentation. While I am not advocating poor quality at all (see fundamental #2 – Make quality personal and #21 – Always make it better), but so much of the experience is not the “what”, but the “how”. This is why I prefer a time on the deck with friends over a high-priced restaurant with acquaintances. I think most of us are wired that way.
If you are with me so far, hold on, I think we can lose sight of this sometimes in our work life. Technical mindsets have a tendency to switch at work. We focus more on the product than the experience. Remember that I am not saying that we don’t care about the product! What is it that we sell? Are we selling systems that don’t have problems or software that doesn’t have any bugs? While it would be great (and unrealistic) to have both, and we constantly strive to ‘make it better’, and to ‘continuously seek improvement’, those ideals are actually not in our control. Even the best code will break down thanks to vendors changing something in the database, a bug in a browser, java, end users etc.; and a completely locked down system will still have users who do stupid (or ignorant) things which will result in them looking to us to fix ‘our’ broken stuff. We CAN control the experience! It is the human element. It is YOU. You and I are the difference between a poor experience and a great experience. Both will be memorable, and unfortunately usually the negative ones are recalled more quickly than the positive ones.
ConnectCare is not about providing unlimited technical support but is really about white glove service. Anyone can provide help desk services. We believe we do it differently. We care about the result and the customer’s experience, not just doing enough to get paid or keep a contract. ConnectSMART is not about just giving dashboard and reporting software but about making companies more successful through understanding and visualizing their data and pitfalls to better service and operations to enable them to make better business decisions. These goals aren’t met through products or delivery of services but through the experiences we leave our customers with. When we put ourselves in their shoes and make it better every day we make an experience they will never forget.
I read a quote this week that really stuck with me. “What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it” – Author unknown. Don’t exchange a day of your life to get past Monday or five days of your life to get the weekend. Exchange a day of your life for memorable experiences. They don’t happen by mistake. Just like luck requires lots of hard work memorable experiences take a dedication to creating them. That is the difference between McDonalds and Commander’s Palace – not just the food, but the intent. So decide this week to make the difference and create memorable experiences for our customers, each other, and yourself!