Today’s post is a combination of venting and advising.
Over the past two weeks, I experienced two, completely different customer experiences at a global, well known eyeglass chain; Lenscrafters. One was terrible and the other one was outstanding. Are your customers experiencing the same thing or have you taken measures to ensure and demand consistent and/or repeatable processes?
Here’s my “customer experience” story…
The purpose of both Lenscrafters’ visits was to adjust the frames on my glasses. If you wear plastic frames like I do, you know that they stretch out and get looser over time and need to be tweaked on a regular basis.
On the first visit, I walked into the store, was greeted by a bustling salesperson who waved me over to a table to sit down, while multi-tasking with another customer.
She did not check to see how the glasses fit before, nor did she wait to see how the glasses fit after she made the adjustment. In between talking to me, she continued to talk to the other customer. I felt like I was imposing on her and causing the other customer to wait longer. I could tell that she was rushing through the entire fitting process and was relieved when I agreed to take the glasses so she could move on to the next thing.
Over the next week, I tried wearing my adjusted glasses and noticed that one side was tighter than the other, and that the frame was resting lopsided on my nose. Therefore, I had to make yet another visit to the store, which was very aggravating.
My second visit to Lenscrafters was completely different. I walked in, asked for help and was seated with a woman who appeared to be a technician not a salesperson. (Later on, I found out that she was in sales too, but you would never detect that.) The first thing she did was look at how the glasses currently fit and saw the issues first hand. She was friendly, knowledgeable, asked for input and all of her attention was focused on me. I felt like I was the only customer in the store.
She went into the back room for awhile and when she came back, she informed me that some of the hardware was broken, which was causing the poor fit. She replaced the hardware and then spent about 5 minutes, moving things around until we both agreed that the glasses fit perfectly. She also asked me if I needed help with anything else and let me know about some of the monthly store specials. I left feeling very satisfied.
Wow, what a difference!
It’s a M&A World
We live in a time of mergers and acquisitions with many medium and large companies comprised of lots of little companies with different products and different procedures. In addition, more and more companies are moving to a global, shared service structure with leaders who oversee multiple regions and time zones.
But, our customers don’t care. When they email, call or visit our company, they expect to receive an experience consistent with our brand regardless of what product they are using or where the employee is located. Consistency instills confidence, saves time and money, and helps drive repeat purchases. Variation will drive customer churn.
So, what is an Operations Leader to do? Here are some business tactics to get you started:
- Important…Process flow before sales or service 2.0. Do not look at tools to automate until after you gave identified, documented and tested your standardized processes. This step should always be last, not first.
- Identify what the most important business processes are in your department, that directly impact and help you to achieve your outcomes. Do not list everything; just the top five or ten most important processes. Using the Lenscrafters example, the process I experienced was the “eye glass frame adjustment process”, which if handled well, likely leads to the outcome of repeat customer, future sales revenue, since eye glass prescriptions are updated annually.
- Inventory your existing documentation, training and knowledge, and understand where the strengths and gaps are. You may not need to start from scratch.
- Document the steps and “create the cookbook” of how employees should carry out your most important processes. Involve your front line staff in these activities, as they are the experts who are closest to the work.
- Incorporate your cookbook into both new hire and ongoing employee training and development activities.
- Ensure that your front line managers are experts in your cookbook, as they can and should reinforce expected practices in day to day interactions with staff.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in how we can all drive more consistent customer experiences. Please share your additions in the comments section.
Here are some related, operations blog posts that you may find helpful:
© 2011, Marci Reynolds. All rights reserved.