You might call them clients or customers. Maybe you serve constituents. Or patrons. Parishioners or members or visitors. Donors … or diners.
It’s become trendy to refer to “valued guests.” (Especially among companies who don’t seem to value their “guests” at all.) And in the web world, it’s all about “users.”
The point is, whatever you call them, it’s a good bet your business or career involves serving somebody.
How well do you do that?
The whole notion of customer service has taken a back seat to the new and improved customer EXPERIENCE, often referred to as CX.
The difference between customer service and customer experience seems to be time. Wikipedia tells us “CX is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.”
Most big companies have a Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer (CxO) or—get this—Executive Director of Customer Success.
If we’re at a smaller firm, or toiling in the gig economy, who’s responsible for keeping those we serve happy? You can go right ahead and add that CxO hat to all the others you’re wearing.
I’ve been thinking about my own clients, pondering how I could up my game. I get good reviews. And referrals from people who brought me in to speak or came to me for coaching. They’re happy with the results and most would even say they enjoyed the process.
But maybe there’s something else that would elevate the experience of working with me. Some extra touch that would make it magical.
You might guess this train of thought started with a customer experience.
I was in Boston over the weekend, speaking at a convention for the National Conference of State Legislatures. My breakout session for the Women’s Legislative Network was in the Westin.
A friendly hotel employee directed me to the meeting room, set up with round tables for about a hundred people. I’d say it was above average. Except for being so dark.
The audio guy came in early to make sure the sound was all set. He was terrific. We exchanged some radio war stories, as he put a lav mic on me. I was thinking, again, what a good experience the Westin provided. If only the room didn’t feel a little bit like a cave.
When the first participant arrived, she chose a seat in the back corner of the room. Chatting with her, I joked about how often people sit as far from the speaker as they possibly can. She said, “It’s because there’s light here.”
True enough, she was right under a recessed can light. And the first thing she’d noticed was how dark most of the room was.
So when a chipper young Westin woman came in asking if we needed anything, we said, “How about some light?”
We figured they’d dimmed lights, maybe so people could see a screen better?
“Oh,” she said, “those lights are burned out.”
Sure enough, there were 8 or 10 lights in the room that did not light. Not because of dimmers or some see-the-screen-strategy. But because nobody replaced the burned out bulbs.
This is a CxF. (Customer Experience Fail)
The hotel hires good people, I’m sure. Trains them to be friendly and welcoming. Provides the amenities you’d expect in a meeting facility of that caliber.
But then they don’t send some guy up a ladder to put in a new lightbulb when one burns out. And that turns out to make a difference in our experience as customers.
So here’s the question. Are there any burned out bulbs in your business?
Seriously, I started thinking about the little things that I could do, or do better. Fundamentally, my business is fine. And yet, there’s some website “housekeeping” that goes undone. A note not written. My LinkedIn page is woefully neglected.
Give it some thought, will you? And I hope you’ll post a comment below. When it comes to the people you serve, where are your burned out bulbs?
And … are you ready to replace them?
Great insight and super story (as always). I’m going to steal it an use the “where are your lights burned out” at our stores.
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Or you could bring me in for a workshop, Bob! Seriously, thanks for the feedback. You can tell this lightbulb thing had an impact on me.
Full disclosure: I’d no sooner finished and filed this article than I got an email from a woman who tried to sign up for time with me through my website, and couldn’t make it work. Right. Because I had failed to update the TimeTrade info. THAT is a perfect example of a burned out bulb. Small issue in the scheme of things, but could have cost me a conversation that potentially leads to a new client. (I’ve since changed that lightbulb.)
Great story and point. I loved the analogy ” are there bulbs burned out in your business”
Also instead of a CXF. Maybe just a CF?:-). The Westin needs a better facility operations manager.
Good stuff and great food for thought.
Thanks, Debbie – glad you dug it. Yes, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought since my “lightbulb moment” in Boston.
Great story. And who is responsible for reporting the burned out light bulbs anyway? Everybody thinks someone else did but no one takes responsibility. Once it gets reported, yes, they should be changed especially knowing a big conference is coming and they want to make an impression. Will the organizers return to that venue next year? It’s all about how people respond and find solutions. I’ve walked down hallways in places I’ve worked and how many times do people walk past the same piece of paper on the floor. Pick it up! Sometimes I think people just walk around with blinders on and miss the whole world around them. We can’t work in an environment if we are pigeon holed into a box and don’t feel empowered to make a difference. It take so little effort.
It’s a good question, Susan – in bigger organizations, it’s easy for everyone to assume that someone else will take care of it. Whatever “it” is. Seems to me when little niggling problems get take care of, it’s because everyone assumes it’s their responsibility, instead of each person figuring the other guy will handle it.
It did strike me that the young woman I talked to didn’t seem at all surprised by lights being out. She sort of shrugged it off as if that’s just the way things are. I say they shouldn’t be that way. Especially with a big convention coming in and big money being spent.
We currently have several flickering bulbs – not ready to say burned out yet! We recently had a change of upper management on our team and it created some short circuits here and there in the organization. We are working feverishly to make the transitions in leadership actions that we identified. Turnover is down so that is a good early sign. I’ll keep you posted on outcomes!
“Flickering bulbs” – I love that, Gale! Here’s to getting them well and consistently lit, SOON. And yes, keep me posted.