Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #153

Tuesday, September 29 , 2009

Customer Experience Management - That Was Easy
Craig Bailey

Do you know what company coined the trademark phrase "that was easy?" After a recent experience I can tell you that it is not just a catch-phrase to which they pay lip-service. Staples (the office supply superstore) lives this!

Over the years, I have consistently used Staples to produce (print and bind) presentations and workbooks in support of client projects. My most recent visit far exceeded my expectations.

The evening before the "big event" - a workshop on Customer Experience Management - found me putting the final touches on my custom-designed material. Just after 8pm, I was preparing to submit my "print job" to Staples by uploading the materials to their website. Whether it was my internet connection, or the Staples website, the upload wasn't happening as fast as I would have liked. Wanting to get this behind me, so that I could sleep well that night, I decided to pick up the phone and contact the local Staples (in Nashua, NH) who would be the recipient of this print job.

Like most consumers I know, I have pretty low expectations with regards to dealing with store clerks at retail chains. As such, I was prepared for some tedious conversation and lots of reasons why they couldn't help me - not because I had previously experienced this with Staples, but because I had placed them in the category of "one of those retail chains." You know, one of those companies that don't try to manage your experience but simply and haphazardly process run-of-the mill transactions (and nothing else).

I called the store and reached the Copy & Print center in "one hop." That is, someone answered the phone and asked how they could help me. When I asked for the Copy & Print center, I was promptly transferred to a courteous and professional gentleman. After I had I explained my situation, the Staples representative said something to the effect of: "Sounds like you have a lot of material and it will be tight to get this done by tomorrow at 11am. Instead of fussing with the website, why don't you just email the package to me and we'll get right on it." I wasn't sure I heard him right. So, I confirmed…Wow!

He IMMEDIATELY made it his problem to help me get around the website to get the materials to him so that he could get the print job started before he left for the evening.

I slept well that night.

At approximately 9:30 the next morning, I received a phone call from Staples (a different person this time) indicating that my print job was ready for pickup. I let them know that I'd stop by around 10:30am on my way to the client site.

When I arrived at the store and introduced myself to the Copy & Print Center clerk, they paged someone. My first thought was, uh-oh, something must have gone wrong with my print job and they need a manager to explain it to me. Again, retail expectations…Wrong again…

A neatly dressed gentleman in shirt and tie introduced himself as the local Staples Business Consultant. He inquired about my business, asking if I frequently had a need for these types of services. When I indicated that I use these services occasionally throughout the year, he shared how I could immediately save money with their Copy & Print Business Discount Program. This is a "no-cost" program with discounts based purely upon "anticipated future volume" and no contract (that is, NO OBLIGATION to do so and no penalties for not meeting the anticipated volumes). I, of course, said "sign me up."

He then handed the paperwork off to the Copy & Print Center clerk who processed my payment for the print job (minus the discount I hadn't even known I could obtain).

The consultant then asked me for a business card so that he might contact me in the future. When I handed him my trademark business card (a Customer Centricity memory stick containing a vcard and promotional materials), he inquired if I was aware that Staples is one of the largest producers of custom-logo memory sticks. I said that I had no idea. He then committed to getting back to me with a quote in order to win my business. In addition, he provided me his business card with his direct line, cell number and email address so that I could contact him if I had any questions or other needs.

As a reminder, this case-study example (which occurred last week) is about a retail establishment (Staples) which has up-leveled their customer experience in a down economy. Are they crazy? No! They just hit a home run!

Are you continuously improving your customers' experience, by making it easier for customers to do business with you? Did you know that the result of doing so makes you more profitable? Reasons for this include:

  • There are fewer unproductive interactions (for you and the customer), with the added inefficiencies of disparate people (depending on the time of day, day of week, or departments the customer may need to interact with) each of which has to be brought up-to-speed regarding the "business or task at hand."

  • There are fewer escalations due to mishaps and things falling through the cracks requiring several people to be "spun-up" to respond to the situation and "make it right."

  • Your employees' morale improves because there are fewer difficult and unnecessary interactions with customers. Instead, your customer-facing personnel can do what they signed up for: delivering value to the customer.

  • Last, but not least, companies that deliver easy and productive experiences have the luxury of these customers performing as reference accounts, telling others about the experience which results in new business coming your way.

For your business to be considered vital, in these economic times, you need to continuously up-level your customers' experience by making it easier for them to do business with you. You want your customers to say "that was easy!"



+ Customer Experience Management - That Was Easy


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