The Secret of Great Customer Experience

Posted on September 12, 2014
Updated September 11, 2019

A great customer experience doesn’t come in a laquer. Starbucks (for example) would like to make employees think it’s their responsibility to provide a great experience to their customers. But they wouldn’t even have to mention it if they realised that the responsibility belongs to everyone. It can’t be someone’s job to manufacture joy. When customers get presented with that, it sucks worse than a perfunctory, polite experience.

People know genuine, and to give genuinely happy you have to be a part of a genuinely happy oragnisation. That means lowering stress on managers with more realistic targets – or even just having a better business model so managers don’t have to sweat sales.

Fuck. Just don’t, you know, milk people.

Experience is the small moments of living and feeling. As employees, we shouldn’t sacrifice 10 hours to misery and lonliness just to be alive for the other 4. As organisations, we shouldn’t try to take care of the customer (for the sake of the bottom line) while overlooking employees. This isn’t life.

You can’t make people happy when you’re not. Starbucks basically proves this. When I connect with a barista it’s despite Starbucks, not because of. It’s all just life. It all has to work, it all has to be good. Until an organisation realises that, they’ll likely be providing a sub-par experience, because bad vibes just get passed on and on. And bad decisions follow along, because people don’t care.

Organisations need to treat their employees like customers. With exactly the same attention and care as they want their actual customers to experience – nota drop less.

Unfortunately, in ‘normal’ environments, employees often defend their psyches against the mess by erecting facades. Their real selves will be buried beneath an act. It’ll be perfunctorily cold. Not special. Not a memorable experience. In fact, it will make customers unconfortable. They don’t want to feel sorry for someone. They just want a bloody coffee.

Apple has the most successful retail business in the world. But walk in to a shop, it doesn’t look that ‘productive.’ I’m not sure how it works, but folks in there seem genuinely content to stand around and talk. What an atmosphere to enter.

It’s not just about improving productivity. Productivity does not equal value. The real value is in the emotions: of everyone from the CEO to the floor staff. Emotions don’t go away. They are absorbed, by people, and the people around them. Don’t place more stress on the people in your organisation, especially in the name of improving the experience of the customer. All changes start internally, and successful changes happen at the root. You need to adopt the changes yourself, in your state of mind, in your reason for existing as an organisation.

A great customer or user experience doesn’t come in a lacquer.