Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: October 2010
By Laura Aiken
Eating great food and getting bad service is like dating a model with a horrible personality.
Eating great food and getting bad service is like dating a model with a horrible personality. There’s an attractive component, but you won’t be sticking around for the long haul. Indulging in fabulous food accompanied by excellent service is a step towards long-term commitment – if the experience fits in with who you imagine yourself to be. Thus, excellent customer service is great, but a great experience is what keeps your customers coming back. What kind of experience are you really delivering?
Customer experience is the culmination of interactions with your business. Whether it’s waiting in line at your counter or taking the first bite, there is a multitude of sensory data being processed that paints just one picture. That image should resonate with how your customers see themselves. If you’re full of country charm and so is your bakery, your happiest clients are likely to be those who see themselves as country charmers too, and they’ll like seeing others they identify with in your store. They’ll feel like they fit in. We all want to be part of a club. It’s just human nature.
Understand what you stand for and make it part of everyday life in your business. Breathe it into the art on the walls and the tone and mannerisms in which customers are cared for. Expectations range, and it’s important to fulfil and ideally exceed the expectations of your customer. Starbucks will never be Tim Hortons, and vice versa. Yet the success of both brands is still fuelled by the unique experiences they deliver.
You’re already striving to deliver a great customer experience; in that regard I’ve said nothing new of its importance. What should be reflected on is whether customers are actually experiencing what you believe they are. A Harvard Business School article called “The Three Ds of Customer Experience” reported on a study that found 80 per cent of companies thought they delivered superior customer experience. In actuality, only eight per cent of companies found their customers agreed. The report was focused on large companies that had perhaps lost sight of customer experience in their dominance as customers in effect became statistics, but nonetheless it’s a startling disparity to take note of.
So what are the eight per cent getting right? Three goals were being addressed: design the right offers and experiences, deliver them across every aspect of the company in collaboration, and develop the ability to consistently deliver the experiences every time, creating measurements that keep you accountable for the customer experience.
It’s always a useful exercise to temporarily step outside of your role and be one of your customers. Walk in the front door or pick up the phone and call your company. Imagine what it’s like for your customers. What is the first place your eyes are drawn to? How does it smell? How does the light make you feel? Is there a glaring repair needed that is throwing off the whole vibe? Is it too quiet or too loud for who your customers are? What kind of different textures are present? Are they cohesive, charmingly eclectic or offensively schizophrenic? Precise details comprise the whole picture; they are what make baking art.
One detail I’d like to share is how pleased we are to have Brandi Cowen, our new assistant editor, on board to help make Bakers Journal the best experience it can be for our readers. After all, we’re here to serve you a great magazine experience from cover to cover.