• Bill Leinweber

  • About Bill Leinweber

    Bill Leinweber's mission is to help businesses and organizations grow by combining efficient processes with great customer and employee experience.

    Bill is the Chief Experience Officer & Owner of Landmark Experience LLC, a consultancy, where he loves to help business leaders walk in their customers' shoes and devise memorable and meaningful experiences for both customers, guests, visitors, employees and business partners. After all, have you ever heard of customer loyalty and business growth without GREAT customer experience?

    Bill's 30 year career spans retail and office products distribution operations in both small, family-owned and global mega-businesses. He has managed customer service operations, sales support, customer on-boarding and business intelligence teams while also serving as an internal consultant and subject matter expert. Bill has helped his past employers improve their customer engagement processes and achieve their goals of customer experience excellence and loyalty.

    Bill loves to talk and speak about customer experience as well, so don't be afraid to ask!

    Bill Leinweber
    Landmark Experience
    513-227-9037
    www.LandmarkExperience.com

Don’t kid yourself – Creating great customer experience takes effort

I read two blog posts this past week that sort of ticked me off. Not because the posts were emotionally charged or offensive in any way. After all, the election is over. The blog posts ticked me off because they mislead the reader. The posts suggest that creating a fantastic, memorable, exciting, loyalty-building customer experience that delights customers is really simple and doesn’t cost a lot of money. Just do these easy steps – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and you’re done.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles & FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The thing is, if this were actually true, we’d all be having amazing customer experiences every day and everywhere we go. But that’s not the case, is it? Both blogs are written by VERY smart gals and I plan to continue reading them because, well, like I said, they’re really smart. But hopefully neither will mind if I poke a little fun at their stories.

Fido and the Pet Store

In the first post, the writer compared her pet food shopping experience, first at a big-box pet store chain and then at a local, independent mom-and-pop pet store. Guess where she had the better, more personal, warm and fuzzy, loyalty-building experience? Of course – at the small independent pet store.  The clerk at the big box pet store was polite and helpful but didn’t offer to take the extra steps to get the special dog food the customer needed. It was a policy-driven experience. The clerk at the neighborhood pet store bent over backwards to help the customer.

I’m willing to bet the local pet shop owner’s heartbeat is only steps away from the customer. In fact, the blog post writer may have actually been dealing with the store owner. When the owner of a business is that close to the customer, the likelihood that you’ll have a more attentive, personal experience is much greater. On the other hand, the shareholders of the big-box pet store chain are wa-a-a-ay far away from the customer. So are the CEO, the executive team and all the “steering committees.” Is it possible to create a personal, attentive, warm and fuzzy customer experience in a big box chain store? Yes, it is possible. But it may not be the intent of the company. The intent of the company might be to become number one in market share by serving the most customers at the lowest prices. Second, if a large company wants to create a super-awesome customer experience, it’s gonna cost ‘em! I probably can’t tell too much to a local store owner that she doesn’t already know about taking good care of customers. But a medium to large business where the customer is “further away” from company leaders – now, that’s where I can help big time.

Starbucks and Big Bucks

The second blog post talked about how delighting customers doesn’t have to cost big bucks and in fact, can be hugely profitable. The post sites as an example, a Starbucks barista who carried on a flirtatious exchange with a customer by writing notes on her coffee cups over a period of months. It’s a cute story about how the customer’s co-worker would take the empty cup back to Starbucks with the customer’s responses. This back and forth cup dialogue went on for several months until the customer herself went into the Starbucks and met her cup-pal for the first time. No, they didn’t get married and live happily ever after but the experience made for lots of great postings on the customer’s own marketing blog. I wouldn’t be surprised if Starbucks encourages their baristas to put little smiley faces on the cups and otherwise make the beverage buying experience feel personal. And it obviously works. But the Barista Romeo example was a bit over the top. It’s a great one-off example of personalizing an experience. But not a good example to hold up to businesses and say, “hey, you should do this.”

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles & FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reality Check

It’s true; companies who focus on delighting the customer can be and are enormously profitable. However, it’s neither as easy as 1-2-3 nor is it cheap. Deciding to delight your customers is easy. Institutionalizing it is another story.

It will cost any company in recruiting and hiring the right people who naturally want to deliver a great customer experience. It will cost the company in new hire and ongoing training, performance assessment, recognition and incentives. It will cost the company by creating a culture where employees feel valued, stick around, and understand how and why they should create a great customer experience. You’ll need great leadership, a commitment to the long-term and a belief in what you’re doing. The per-interaction cost of delivering great customer service is very low. Getting to that point where hundreds or thousands of employees are delivering a great customer experience every day – that is a significant investment in time, money and effort.

Can you do it? You bet! The time, money and effort spent is a good investment in your business. But don’t let anyone fool you into believing you can decide to delight your customers on Monday and git er done by Friday.

Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!

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