Published in Retail

Leaving Behind “Check Box CX”

I have a love / hate relationship with my To-Do list. The love part comes from that shot of dopamine it must trigger when I get to actually check something off. Is there a better feeling? Sometimes, even if I have completed a task before I get to create my list for the day, I will still put it in there just, so I can check something off; it feels that good.

The hate part of it comes when the list never seems to go down in number. Many days I feel good if the number of items that were on my list at the beginning of the day is within a +/- of 1 or 2 of where I started the day. It is never ending the number things that can be added to the list during the day and it can get to be overwhelming. I hate that feeling of when the list becomes overwhelming and it makes me want to check something off quickly to get back in control.

On a completely different note, but related to check lists, we love to create good CX through a nice and tidy list – 1) Did I greet the customer with 5 seconds of them entering the store? Check. 2) Did I ask to see if they needed help? Check. 3) Did I process their paperwork correctly? Check. 4) Did I do it in a timely manner? Check 5) Did I get them out of the door without wasting their time? Check – All boxes checked, and the customer is gone.

Create a Culture of Experience

The check list is a good place to start but it does not endear people to the experience. It is mechanical – it drives organized patterns of repeatable behavior. Do you really think the person saying “Welcome to Costco” really means it? The script and the checkbox are the lowest common denominator of what is acceptable, but it is not personable, nor does it generate a positive meaningful or memorable experience. This is where the experience of customer experience comes from. It comes from people and companies that drive a culture of creating an experience and it shows in their passion and attitude as well as their desire to deliver more. It goes well beyond the mechanical motions of the checkbox; it creates desire for the customer to come back, to tell their friends, to look forward to the next time they get to have that interaction they create an experience.

A Japanese Haircut Example

Compare these two very different experiences for relatively the same result – haircuts in Japan

In total, I lived in Japan for about 12 years. For many years, I would go to any barber that was convenient to me. There was no shortage, they all charged about the same price, and the process was quick. I would walk in, they would take my name, I would sit and wait for my turn, they mostly used clippers to speed up the process, there was very little interaction, but it was quick, and I was on my way without any complaint having taken care of a task that I categorized with paying bills and doing dishes. Basically, something that I felt better after it was done, but not something I looked forward to doing.

One day, while going home from work, I was approached by a very energetic employee of a new hair salon who approached me and said something like, ‘you look like you need a haircut, you should come to our new place.’ I decided to give it a try. When I walked in, I was greeted by a cast of very enthusiastic employees. The place was full of patrons but there was a different atmosphere. It was bright, clean, and energetic. They told me I would have to wait but helped to show me how to make a reservation in the future, so I wouldn’t have to wait. While I waited they brought me a hot face towel, fresh water and snacks. When then took me to get my hair washed and treated, they also included a scalp and shoulder massage. I was now ready for the haircut. The person who cut my hair was the same person that invited me to the salon. She was, as before, very energetic but yet with scissors in hand, very meticulous. She asked questions all thru the process. She took her time but did not doddle. She asked if I had considered other styles. She asked about my daily routine and if I spent a lot of time or would want to spend time each day or if I needed a low maintenance haircut. Midway thru, she asked for me to go back and have my hair rinsed out again. She went back to work. She kept me involved with what she was doing and what she was thinking. After she was done, I was back at the sinks again for a final wash, clean, and combing. She then, based on information I had given her, had set up schedules and times for me to come back. I felt refreshed, clean, and invigorated as I walked out. Getting a haircut became something that I looked forward to. The experience was something I wanted to share and shared with several of my friends and many of my friends started going with me.

Don’t Provide a “Check List” Experience

So, what was the difference? The end result was the same. I didn’t have any complaints from my previous experiences with the various barbers I went to, but it was a standard and very mechanical process. The place I ended up going to for the years afterward gave me an experience. An experience where I wanted to go out of my way to go there and only there; a place I told my friends about and they started going there and only there. When it comes to CX, don’t make the processes something you just check off. Otherwise, like the first barber, your customers will only come to you for utility purposes (if that). However, when you provide an energetic environment that’s “clean” and “bright” and provides an experience that’s engaging, you will have customers that continue to come back, even going out of their way to come by, for years to come.