Customer expectations are binary. You either exceed them, or you fall short. Similarly, if you’re trying to keep up with increasing consumer expectations, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Amazon, no longer a small online bookstore by any measure, knows this. Their objective isn’t to meet expectations. Rather, their objective is to exceed customer expectations such that customer expectations increase by way of the service they provide. Scot Wingo, Co-Founder of Channel Advisor, calls this increasing customer expectation the “Amazon Effect.
Whole Foods just SMELLS different than other grocery stores, doesn’t it? I’m not sure what it is, but every time I walk into one, I just feel a sense of calm wash over me. Maybe it’s because I know I’m not about to purchase anything with dozens of preservatives packed into it. Whatever the reason, you know that you’re into something good when the place where you purchase your food is somewhat of a mecca for those seeking good health and overall safer food options. It’s almost like a Farmers Market contained inside four walls.
You might find their origins surprising but Whole Foods Market began in the land of the deep fried everything: Texas. This Austin born company was a huge leap forward for a small but growing movement across the nation that recognized the need for higher quality foods with a lower ecological footprint and a greater focus on organics. In fact, Whole Foods was the first real “health food supermarket” appearing at a time when its founders felt that people were ready for “real food” to become mainstream. Jumping on board the train early proved to be the right move and now Whole Foods can be found everywhere.
WHY ALL THE WHOLESOME FOOD?
There are really too many reasons to list, but Whole Foods offers an increasingly popular perspective on personal health and local sustainability. With a commitment to source ethically grown and produced foods, as well as a very clear labeling policy, confidence is 100% a part of the shopping experience at Whole Foods. That’s why people like it. Sure something costs $3 more than it would at another grocery store–but it’s also not packed full of preservatives and dyes that you can’t pronounce. Whole Foods also make a substantial effort to use clean energy in the running of their stores. They also have a higher than usual basic wage for all employees and tend to favor partnerships with smaller, often family-run organic farms.
It also doesn’t hurt that Whole Foods sells reusable bags as well as bags of ice that can be delivered to your doorstep within one hour.
Whether you’re just interested in cleaner foods and personal care products or you like to experiment with the newest health craze or super food, you’re going to find what you’re looking for at Whole Foods. The fact that you get to support small business and tread a little lighter on the environment in the process is really just the chia seed cherry on top of your organic green smoothie cake!
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Are you in the school of thought that Whole Foods is just too expensive? Watch this food prep challenge and see how affordable this awesomely organic company can be.
Traveling by air has become incredibly routine, particularly in the United States. One might even say that because it’s such a common way to travel, the whole idea has lost much of its romantic allure. People no longer dress up to travel, first class seating is often blended with economy, and forget about free meals! Seasoned travelers know all too well that instead of the excitement of travel, they can expect minimal leg room and incredibly ordinary customer service. Maybe that is why the experience of flying with JetBlue is refreshing, more than making up for not being able to choose who you sit next to!
Originally from Delaware and now the 6th largest American airline (as well as one of the more tenacious of the homegrown air travel companies) JetBlue’s unofficial mission statement of treating its passengers like people has seen it through some rough times. That mission statement has also ensured that its fleet has hung on in the turbulent world or air travel over the last 19 years. The airline’s charming local feel combined with a surprisingly simple, no-nonsense brand echoes Jet Blue’s straightforward approach to the airline travel business–and it works for them.
WHY THE CUSTOMER BILL OF RIGHTS?
One of the worst parts of airline travel is feeling like your just a number. As one of 200 passengers, you’re filed onto the plane and filed off, with little more than a “thanks for flying with us.” JetBlue on the other hand created a manifesto detailing what they believe the rights of their customers are, as well as Jet Blue’s obligation to ensuring excellent customer service. The Jet Blue Bill of Rights includes detailed information about how they will compensate customers for delays and other travel issues– and it is probably among the most comprehensive guarantees of good service I’ve ever laid eyes on.
It doesn’t stop there. Not only has JetBlue made sure their processes are customer-centric, they’ve ensured their flights are as well. Boasting comfortable leather seats, free wifi, inflight entertainment, snacks you’d actually want to eat, and a variety of drinks, Jet Blue has the traveling for distances thing down to a science. As if that’s not enough, Jet Blue also supports and mentors small start-up businesses to help foster their local economy.
JetBlue takes the needs of their customers seriously. They know exactly where to apply a little extra care and attention to ensure that everyone who buys a ticket with them has a great flying experience. Best of all, if for some reason things don’t go according to plan, Jet Blue does whatever they can to ensure their customers still have an excellent flight experience. It’s a welcome approach to travelers weary of airlines who bring to life the concept of “cattle class” and it’s why Jet Blue made the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 here at Purple Goldfish.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Jet Blue loves to help lift up small companies. Here’s just one example of how they support local.
The unprecedented expansion of markets into an online space has changed up the customer journey. That means that is has never been more important to connect with your potential customers on their terms– but for your sake, it should be done in a way that capitalizes on their established behaviors. Sound complicated? It’s not in today’s tech savvy world.
I’ll never forget the first time I stayed at a Four Seasons hotel. The luxurious lobby was overwhelming enough, but once I was able to get past all of the marble and glass, something else struck me: every single staff member was totally on top of their game. From the way they answered my questions before I even asked them to walking around the desk to present me with my room key, it was an experience unlike anything else. Their customer service focus is just one reason why they’re part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
What started with just a building design by a young architect, turned into a revolutionized approach to hotels. Maybe you recognize the name of the hotel: Four Seasons. Focused on making the hotel stay an experience rather than just a place to leave your suitcase and rest your head, Four Seasons make their customers the central focus every single day–and it shows from the first impression they make at check-in to their very last impression at check-out. Additionally, their worldwide expansion has made them a hugely recognized and respected company, not least of all for each hotel’s beautiful interiors and overall sense of luxury as soon as you step through the doors. Four Seasons has a well-earned reputation for ensuring guests have a totally memorable experience, starting with efficient, organized customer service.
WHY THE CUSTOMER SERVICE FOCUS?
When we stay in a hotel, we’re just not…home, are we? While some of us love to travel, there always comes a time when it gets a bit tedious. The Four Seasons believes that it’s the little experiences that make up the bigger picture of customer service. Little things like walking around the desk to present a room key speaks to the lengths Four Seasons is willing to go for their customers.
Whether you’re there for one night or a whole week, your choice of hotel is very much a part of your travel experience in work and pleasure. The Four Seasons has a near 60-year history of creativity and innovation in the hotel industry. Perhaps that’s why they pride themselves on what they call a mission of offering only experiences of exceptional quality. The Four seasons is truly a pioneer of hotel luxury and ease, built on the foundation of service to their guests. It’s not hard to appreciate the care that goes into treating each person who walks through their doors like a VIP.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Four Seasons latest hotel recently opened in downtown New York–and you’ll really enjoy the tour.
Tracking customers by location used to seem a bit invasive, but with new possibilities of providing better service or incentives, customers are warming up to the idea of sharing more with companies. Companies are using location awareness to accomplish all sorts of enhancements from knowing when a customer has arrived, to helping them navigate a complicated building.
Whatever your industry, excellent customer service is an essential element in gaining customers. You also need great customer service to retain those customers and improve your brand’s positioning in your industry. It’s no longer enough to just ensure that our staff members are well trained in technology, data, and general analytics. To be effective, your customer service must anticipate your customer’s needs and ultimately create an experience that is as valuable to them as the product or service you’re offering to them. It’s all part of what ensures a seamless customer journey.
This is the fifth blogpost in a nine post series (originally published by IBM) focused on the intersection of customer experience and technology, data and analytics. This post covers the Second R of responsiveness and the importance of reducing waiting.
Someone once said we spend 10% of our lives waiting. We’re certain it’s true because we once read it on the Internet. In all seriousness, waiting is a fact of life. It’s an irritating and annoying fact of being a customer. One of the most impactful ways companies are using technology is to help their customers wait less or, when waiting can’t be avoided, help the time pass more quickly.
Case Study: Applebee’s
Many companies are embracing the self-service trend. Julia Stewart, CEO of Applebee’s, says, “Customers have been telling us for some time—even myself … I don’t like to wait for the check. That was the first sort of pain point we heard of, and we had this unique opportunity with technology to make a real difference.”
Based on a successful pilot, Applebees bought 100,000 tablets for its restaurant tables. The results show 70% of tables using the tablets. Additionally, appetizer orders increased by 20% and dessert orders by 30%. Tables turned quicker and the kids can play games on the tablet while waiting for their food. This is a win-win scenario as customers are leaving faster, more satisfied and with a higher check total, which the restaurant chain profits from.
Looking to recent survey numbers, these results should come as no surprise. “Almost a quarter of all millennials use self-service kiosks to avoid any sort of interaction with cashiers,” according to Retale president Pat Dermody.
Case Study: First Tennessee Bank
Founded in 1864 and headquartered in Memphis, First Tennessee Bank (FTB) is a leading financial services company. Serving more than 460,000 households across the State, the bank offers a range of retail banking services including checking accounts, mortgages and insurance.
To achieve its goal of doubling annual sales of online accounts by 2019, FTB needed to reduce waiting and give customers a smoother journey through the account sign-up process. FTB implemented IBM Digital Analytics to capture, monitor and analyze real-world customer behavior on its website and mobile app, and identify opportunities for improving the user experience. More user-friendly online and mobile journeys drive more customers to complete the account sign-up process. Ongoing monitoring helps to continuously assess and improve the user experience.
Takeaway: The lesson is clear. Any investment that reduces the wait time will equal happier customers who will ultimately spend more and return time and time again. Don’t fall into the trap of the way you’ve always done things. While new technologies can cause growing pains, customers’ expectations are always increasing and you must use every tool in your arsenal to get ahead of the curve.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – According to Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part:
The rate of innovation is ever increasing. What would seem like a giant leap fifty years ago appears more like a small step today. Second, these innovations are changing the average consumer. Going from the world where connected technology was mostly a dream to such ubiquity where more humans have mobile phones than access to working toilets is nothing short of impressive.
There is a quote that I love. “Go the extra mile–it’s less crowded up there.” While this quote can be applied to a great many customer service situations, I feel that there is one company who is especially good at going the extra mile for their customers. What is more, they have done business this way since the beginning, so they’ve got everything down to a science. That company, and this week’s Hall of Famer, is Disney. They always go the extra mile, ensuring that what their customers get is more than what was ever expected. Everything from their service to their park experiences to their parades tacks on the extra touch that makes all the difference to both children and adults alike.
Disney’s stories, characters and experiences reach consumers and guests from every corner of the globe. They have operations in over 40 countries, and their cast members (Disney word for employees) work together to create entertainment experiences that are both universally and locally cherished. Those words are straight from the Disney website, and they really ring true. In order to promote the idea that a Disney experience should be valued and cherished, the company and its employees always work to give more than expected. That’s part of what enhances the value in the first place, and it certainly promotes positive memories.
WHY GIVE MORE?
Often, a business looks at “giving more” as “spending more.” Here’s the truth: you don’t always have to spend money to add value. At Disney, they’re no doubt working with a multi-billion dollar budget–something most companies don’t have. However, Disney doesn’t need a big budget to make people smile. They simply need to have the right people working for them at the front lines, offering a friendly smile or directions to a nearby attraction, to offer those little extras.
It doesn’t take much to go the extra mile–yet so few companies do it. Take pause and look into ways your company can go above and beyond for your customer. It doesn’t have to cost anything more than politeness, a smile, or a helping hand.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Is there anything better than a child being surprised with a trip to Disney World? Here are some of the best reactions on the internet.