Are You Experienced?
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology, not the other way around.”- Steve Jobs
There are many reasons why Apple is one of the most successful companies in the world: first class technology, savvy marketing, sleek design. But each of these business components comes from one simple idea. Create and maintain an unrivaled customer experience. Do everything with the customer in mind.
In the fast paced society we currently live in, the customer experience has been resolved to more of a novel idea than a standard business practice. Gone are the days where passion for the customer drives product development and decisions. It seems there is more thought and desire into things such as efficiency, streamlined processes, and minimizing costs.
I recently found new hope in our society’s passion for the customer experience. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me to the private soft opening of Top Golf. Though I didn’t know much about the company, I do enjoy hitting a bucket of golf balls every now and then, and figured, why not. I did a little research on the Top Golf website to see what I was getting myself into and thought the concept was a pretty cool idea. Think driving range/sports bar/high-end bowling alley.
Admittedly, I didn’t have very high expectations for this type of event. I’m not a great golfer, and the idea of aiming at colorful circles in 90 degree heat left me with mixed emotions. However, upon arrival, I was absolutely blown away.
As I parked the car and exited my Volkswagen Passat, a limousine golf cart pulled up beside my wife and I and asked if we’d like a lift to the front entrance 50 yards away. Lost for words, I accepted the gentleman’s proposal and enjoyed the 30 second ride.
Still in disbelief that this place actually had limousine golf carts, we entered the Top Golf facility and stepped into the very crowded lobby area. Hundreds of people were walking around, socializing, and taking in this beautiful new structure. Thinking that it may be a while before we were assisted, I was surprised when a guest services representative approached our group and guided us to our assigned golfing bay. It caught me off guard to be served so quickly during what seemed like organized chaos. The gesture was simple, quick, and quite refreshing.
Once we arrived at our bay, the customer experience really went into action. There was a bucket of beers on the table. Lifetime membership cards by the monitor. A waiter greeted us and asked if there was anything else he could get us.
The Top Golf representative explained to us that because this was a private soft opening and because they appreciated us being there so much, all games, food, and beverages would be complimentary.
“Free!”, I thought. This couldn’t be real, could it? I thought we were just hitting some golf balls?
I was in such awe, I could barely concentrate on the rest of the representative’s spiel. Something about the various games we could play and how the automated ball system worked. Simply put, I was beyond impressed.
We started playing a few games, and although I couldn’t hit a ball straight to save my life, I was really having a good time. The waiter and guest services representative frequently visited us to see if we needed anything and were keen on ensuring we had a good night. Even the general manager stopped by each golf bay to introduce himself and welcomed guests to the new facility. It was clear that customer satisfaction was of the utmost importance.
A couple of weeks went by and I couldn’t shake how great Top Golf made the customer experience. What I realized though, was that it was not the free games or complimentary drinks (although that’s never a bad thing) that won my loyalty. It was the customer service. It was the manner in which we were greeted, the enthusiasm of the staff, and the hospitality that was shown throughout the night. It was almost like being a guest at a close friend or relative’s home.
The epiphany I had over this whole ordeal was that this level of customer experience was not out of the ordinary or by chance. Like a good product, this experience was calculated, tested, and then perfected in the training process. It was a key element in the business plan and was established as the company’s competitive advantage from the very beginning.
Customer experiences don’t happen by chance. They are a well-oiled machine. Good customer experiences result in higher retention rates, margins, and profitability, and it is a key determinant to whether a business will be successful or fail.
So I ask you this month, analyze your customer experience. Survey customers, employees, and key stakeholders. Ask them what you could be doing better and what other companies are doing that is admirable.
I guess the REAL question is… is your customer experience driving your business or driving you out of business?
USEFUL WEB TOOLS
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A LITTLE HUMOR…
The New Generation
Daughter: “Daddy, I am coming home to get married. Take out your checkbook. I’m in love with a boy who is far away from me. I am in California and he lives in New York . We met on a dating website, became friends on Facebook, had long chats on Whatsapp, he proposed to me on Skype and now we’ve had two months of relationship through Viper. Dad, I need your blessings, good wishes, and a big wedding.”
Father: “Wow! Really!! Then get married on Twitter, have fun on Tango, buy your kids on Amazon and pay through PayPal. And when you get fed up with your husband….sell him on Ebay.”