I know this is a blog about my beard but I wanted to get something out and I felt this was a good place to do it. Don’t worry! I will lament about how thick my beard has gotten and how much food is stuck in there a little later in this article.
I have spent most of my career in some form of Customer Service. Whether it is working on something within their house to get phone service working, or in my current role, ensuring that the business stays up and running using our communications platform. I have spent a lot of that time wondering how I can make the process easier for the Customer. I have always believed that if you can build a tremendous experience for the Customer then you build a loyal Customer. This is true for any industry but especially true in the Service Industry.
There are so many tools that can help you achieve this. In fact, there are entire businesses whose sole purpose is to help other businesses figure out how to create great experiences for their Customers. Companies have spent millions analyzing data and getting feedback from their Customer to find out what they want. I’m here to tell you that all that is now dead. And that’s OK!
Today I decided to venture down the street to our local Specialty’s Sandwich Shop. According to their website they blend “the best of old world food techniques with the advantages of modern technology ordering.” I have tried this place in the past and actually enjoy their Turkey, Apple, Brie sandwich. It’s great! You can tell the ingredients are fresh, they take great care in not just slopping something together, and the prices are reasonable. However, I have never been in the store to order a sandwich until today. In the past, companies that I have worked for have always catered it for lunch so that has been the extent of my interaction with them up to this point.
As I walked into the store I noticed three iPads sitting on a counter about 20 feet from the ordering counter. A large splash screen says “ORDER HERE” as you walk in a bit further. I approached the iPad, swiped my credit card, and began pushing the different screen prompts that eventually led me to the sandwich I wanted to order. It asked me to grab a buzzer which were stacked next to the iPad and enter the number into the screen. Once I did all of that it confirmed that I had placed my order and that the buzzer would let me know when my food is ready. So off to the side I stood awaiting the lunch that my belly so hungrily craved. A few moments later my buzzer went off and a brown bag was there waiting for me on the counter with the number that matched my buzzer. I quickly looked in the bag to ensure everything was there and headed out the door. I had spent roughly 10 minutes in this store and never once interacted with anyone that worked there. And you know what, I didn’t mind.
I didn’t have to ask for extra stuff, napkins, forks, straws, etc. Everything I wanted was right there in that bag courtesy of this interaction I had earlier with the iPad. I listed that I wanted extra napkins and when I opened the bag there was a small tree’s worth of napkins in there. I didn’t want the aioli on my sandwich so imagine my glee when I bit into the sandwich and it was not there.
Technology helped guide me through the ordering process, listened to exactly what I wanted, and flawless execution by Specialty’s magic sandwich making Elves made it possible. This whole interaction laughed in the face of what the traditional Customer Service has always been. Even in the early 50’s when car hops and soda jerks where a way to connect with your Customer the model has been clear. To be successful you need to be able to connect with your Customer in a way that is meaningful. Marketing and branding is all about how we build that relationship and connect it so that there is an emotional vested stake in that brand.
Today I learned that the easiest way to do that is just to get out of the way. The Customer just wants to get his stuff and go about his day. And the less we can get in the way of that, the better we can build brand loyalty.
Oh, and my beard is getting really thick. There. I included something about my beard. Happy now!?!