We speak often about tips for providing excellent customer service, and the amount of real life tips seems almost endless. We speak of going the extra mile beyond just the basic service. We often speak of tips to help offer the customer a personalized experience in hopes of establishing a long-term relationship with them for their future business, as well as the often forgotten common-sense ideas.
However, a recent Forbes article challenges this excellent service norm with the idea of providing a “unique” customer experience.
Creating a unique experience means looking beyond normal customer service and providing the customer with an experience that is above and beyond expectations. In years past, we have seen these new unique options pop up in various ways, like self-check-out lanes at grocery stores, or self-order computer terminals at some fast-food style establishments. These types of ideas are unique and offer the customer a different way to get what they need without the assistance of another human.
First up, we look at an idea that falls in line and is similar to the self-checkout and self-ordering scenarios, that of the Presto tablet being used by Rajat Suri. The tablet is a table unit that allows customers to order on their own time without interaction with a waiter. This is not a large leap in thinking for customers, since they are much more accustomed these days to self-service online based ordering. In another article from Businessweek on this technology, Suri says, “People have been changed by the Internet and expect faster speeds of service and access to information. This technology makes it strictly better to attend a restaurant.” The Presto device allows diners to see a digital menu with photos, and a card reader through which to pay at their convenience.
The second idea is taken the changes made at Umpqua Bank, where they have changed the idea of their bank from being just a quick-stop financial institute branch, to being more of a retail store atmosphere. Offering more than just a person to do your transactions with, they have additional services including learning about financial products and services. This changes the way they are viewed, and allows for the establishment of a wholly different relationship with their customers.
Thirdly, there is the suggestion of what are called "soft innovations," which is highlighting an existing feature of a product in a way that changes perception without actually altering the product. “Think Ben & Jerry’s, which introduced the ice cream pint to the world as a more personal alternative to the half-gallon or gallon tub,” as quoted from a 2011 Fast Company article. While big innovation is what most look for, soft innovation can be used to generate different appeal for products and services.
And lastly, the idea of taking all of the hassle out of the customer’s hands makes for an often unique experience. Much too often companies expect the customer to do more footwork and many times that stifles things from getting done. For the company Threadflip, they have made a business out of treating their customers like stars. Specializing in the reselling of women’s clothes, the company offers free sign-up, and then they send you a pre-paid shipping bag to send your clothes in with. Once received, they photograph and suggest pricing for the items, and once sold, they keep a percentage of the sales. So for just a minimal amount of work for the customer, it creates a quick, easy, and unique way for getting a great end result.
As someone seeking to be in or already in a CSR related position, keep an open mind to innovative ideas that can offer that satisfying and unique experience.
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