Jan 30

It's the experience that matters most!

I am often disheartened by the number of business owners I meet who genuinely believe that if they offer high standard products and services, they don’t need to worry about the standard of experience they offer their customers.

Another scenario is they think if they make their products cheap enough, they don’t need to worry about how poor the experience they offer is because they honestly believe people will buy them anyway.

The trouble with both these theories is that we now compete in a global marketplace. Online shopping provides plenty of alternative suppliers for both high quality goods and discount products just like yours, if your customers are not happy with the experience they have with you.  

Even if they don’t purchase online, the internet provides easy access to plenty of other suppliers, should they choose to go looking after a bad experience.

 So, to demonstrate the impact of good and bad experiences on your customers, here are two stories that clearly highlight why a carefully planned Customer Success Strategy is just as essential as a Business or Marketing Plan.


Story 1. The Dirty Barber

I recently had a hair cut at a different barber because my regular guy was unexpectedly closed on a day I needed a cut and the experience has stuck in my mind... but not for a good reason!

The place I normally go to has a good vibe about it. They greet you by name as you arrive (this started on just the 3rd visit) and let you know how long they’ll be.

It’s always well maintained, clean and they have comfy chairs in the waiting area.  There’s a great music playlist that keeps the energy in the room (no radio ads), there’s always a few newspapers and mags to read and they even have a couple of LCDs mounted on the wall, set on a news channel with subtitles, so you can read along while you’re sitting waiting.

Once you hit the chair the guys are pretty friendly and chat while they work. Over the time I’ve been going there I’ve enjoyed numerous conversations that amount to catch-ups because they remember what we talked about last time. It’s a bit like having your hair cut by a friend.

The price is a little more than some of the other local barbers but as well as the hair cut they always do all the extras like shaving the back of your neck, tidying-up your ears, nose and eye-brows and then finishing off with a lovely scented hot and cold towel treatment that leaves you feeling clean and refreshed.

Clearly, I enjoy my visits, so you can appreciate I was a little apprehensive when I was forced to use the other place. I admit it wasn’t all bad but there were a couple of things that happened that mean I’m unlikely to go back.

As I arrived at ‘Barber 2’, I stuck my head in the door and noticed there was a guy in the single chair they had, 1 waiting inside and another wandering around out the front. The lady (who I later discovered was the owner), smiled and said hello then offered me a seat and said she wouldn’t be long.

As I sat down I noted the sign on the wall that indicated they didn’t take EFTPOS, so I decided to scoot out to grab some cash. I also noted the price was a few bucks less than I normally pay so I figured that was a bit of a win. I told the lady I’d be back, and she agreed to hold my spot in the queue for me. So far so good...

Upon my return, she was saying goodbye to the fellow she had been working on when I first arrived and signalled to the next guy to take a seat in the chair. I thought it was a little strange that she hadn’t swept away the hair from the first guy but figured she was in a hurry, so she must have forgotten.

About 15 minutes later she’d completed the next guy and the change-over happened again. She was very pleasant in her manner with the customer and he seemed very happy with the process and said “I’ll see you in a couple of months”.

However, again the hair was left untouched on the floor and on the foot step of the chair.

Suffice to say, when it finally came to my turn to take a seat, I was less than impressed at the prospect of wading through at least 4 other people’s hair to take my place on the chair.

So, as she took payment from the previous customer, I indicated I was happy to wait.

She looked confused, “I won’t be a minute” she said.

“That’s OK, I’m happy to wait” I insisted.

“I’m sorry, what for?” she asked.

“For you to clean-up the hair” I said.

“Oh, most people don’t mind a bit of hair” she said with a smile.

“Well I do” I said with a smile. I don’t mind my own hair but I’m not keen on having to kick aside other people’s hair.

With that she grabbed a hair dryer and took all of 10 – 15 secs to blow away the follicles and I sat down.

My thought was, if it only takes a few seconds, why not do that every time, so the one person who did care, wasn’t upset with what she felt was acceptable?

The fact is, if the other guys in front of me were asked, I’d bet at least a couple of them would have felt the same way but didn’t complain because, as the statistics show, 96% of people generally don’t let you know when they’re unhappy with the service.   

To her credit, she happily continued with the cut, seemingly unfazed by the moment and struck up a conversation. We chatted about a number of things until there was a slightly awkward moment when she asked what I do and I told her I was a Customer Experience Specialist. “Oh, now I understand” she said. “The hair thing... I get it”.

She finished the cut, and I was pleased that she also did the extra bits. Albeit without any shaving cream on the back of my neck for the cut-throat shave and there was certainly no nice smelling towel at the end of it but for about $7 less than I normally pay, I at least felt I got good value for my money. Oh, and she did have a jar of mints.

As I walked away, I took stock of the experience. The haircut was fine, I got most of the extra bits and it was a bit cheaper. Overall not such a bad experience but... the hair thing got me. If I hadn’t insisted, she wouldn’t have cleaned it up for me and I would have walked out of there a lot less satisfied than I did. All for the sake of saving about 15 seconds per haircut.

The epilogue to this story is, as luck would have it, I had to go back to this barber again recently and you guessed it, the same thing happened.

 I don’t think she recognised me, but as the second person left and she didn’t clean-up after them, I stood up, said I needed to get cash and walked out. I decided I didn’t need a haircut that day after all and went back to my regular barber the next day and happily paid a bit more for the experience.

Story 2. Caravan Park Hospitality

The second story is a much shorter tale. In this instance, my folks were returning from their annual caravan jaunt up the east coast.

Having stopped to visit us in Brisbane for a few days and not knowing how long they were going to stay, they headed for their regular stop-over in Northern New South Wales without a booking.

Unfortunately, when they finally did make contact with the caravan park they normally stopped at, it was full. So, they carried on to the next town and found an alternative spot.

To say they were a little dubious as they pulled-up, would be an understatement.

The garden was a little overgrown, the various buildings around the property could do with a lick of paint, the various signs around the place were fading... you get the picture.

Nevertheless, they had no choice but to check-in and set-up camp for the night. After all, it was only a stopover on the way through... or so they thought.

As it happened, they got to work setting up the van and then settled down for “Sundowners”. Which, for those unfamiliar with the rituals of the grey nomads, means it was time for a drink and a bit of a rest before dinner.

Much to their surprise, shortly after they sat down, the owner of the park appeared with a basket full of cheese scones and with a smile on his face he said, “You look like you could do with a couple of these”.

 Now another thing you might not know about grey nomads (and yes Mum will kill me for putting her in that category) is that they are incredibly social with just about anybody. So needless to say, as they gratefully helped themselves to some scones, they also invited the guy to join them for a chat and that was it. Three days later they packed up and headed home and have now changed their stop-over point for their trips home from Queensland.


In both these stories, the quality of the actual products or services (the haircut and the caravan park) turned out to be less significant influencers of whether or not we would go back to and how we have talked about them since.

Both stories also prove how important it is to take time out to identify all the Moments of Truth relevant to your business (see November Blog - Are you ticking ALL the right boxes?).

It is essential to build strategies around how you can ensure you make every moment count with your customers, so they walk away wanting to come back.

In other words, develop a plan so you create happy customers by design, not by chance.

For more information on how you can develop a Customer Success Blueprint for your business, please contact the author.

JB@fivestarexperiences.com.au | +61 412 389 218 | Skype: justin_bayliss

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