Do you have a game plan for customer experience or are you just reacting and hoping for the best?

What is the focus of most of your customer service training? If it is like so much of what is out there, there is a big emphasis on managing angry customers. If that is true for you, why is it this way?

If your big worries are angry customers, would it not be wise to investigate what is causing them to be angry in the first place? Maybe you need to replace reactive, manage-angry-customers training with proactive, make-them-happy-at-the-start training.

This is just one example of how so much of business is focused on being reactive. Executives and managers spend a lot of time looking at the scoreboard instead of the game plan. In fact, I am surprised at how many things have no game plan.

What do I mean?

In sports, a game plan is a designed strategy for winning. It includes which players will be on the field at what time in the game, what style of play, attacking or defending, will be best in given situations, and what actions will be taken in just about any fathomable situation. In business, it means designing what is best for customers in everything possible. It means creating environments, processes, and products that make life easy and pleasurable for customers. It also means training employees on how to work with customers in things that cannot be designed, the points in the customer’s journey that just happen.

A great example of designing a game plan is Disneyworld with its obsessive attention to detail. In fact, they say attention to detail is their key to “wowing” guests. In the Disney universe, the “wow” they deliver is not one big thing, but several small details linked together. They say it is their ability to consistently make that happen that impresses and thrills their guests. The thing is, this is not by accident, it is by design. They meticulously design the details and how people will experience them as part of their de facto customer experience game plan.

Take, for example, the roundabout in front of Cinderella’s Castle. As guests progress down Main Street, they come to this roundabout where there are several walkways shooting off it that go to different major areas of the park. Disney’s team observed that most guests entering the roundabout from Main Street turned to the right and then turned right again to the first walkway going toward Tomorrowland. Given the numbers of people following this path, there were times when traffic got heavy creating a traffic jam that left guests less than happy. And while guests were not making big complaints about it, it was apparent that there was difficulty. Always wanting Disneyworld to be the happiest place on earth, Disney’s leadership decided they had a bad design, so they widened that walkway to be twice as wide as all the others. A wider walkway with no traffic jams meant happier guests. Instead of waiting for complaints, Disney observed, empathized, took proactive action, and designed away the problem.

This attention to detail in design can be found all over the park. From the location of gift shops where guests will be leaving the park to restaurants serving breakfast food where guests will be walking in the morning to play parks set next to rides where, for safety reasons, small children cannot ride to creative ways of keeping people entertained while waiting in queues. All these things are designed parts of an overall game plan for proactively anticipating customer needs and creating a great experience.

Lesson? There are so many problems customers encounter that can be designed away. It just takes keen observation and listening to what people, both customers and employees, have to say.

By designing things —this includes products, processes, key interaction points, and the environments customers encounter— businesses build a game plan for service excellence. They can, much like a sports coach, proactively strategize a positive customer experience through the design of every piece, and like any good coach, when things begin causing difficulties, they can determine where things might need a redesign or some fine tuning.

With a game plan, your training can be focused on how to make and keep customers happy from the start. By designing into the team a proactive, positive-interaction-and-experience mindset, less will go wrong and you will not need to spend so much time on what to do when things miss the mark.

A haphazard, reactive approach will never “wow” customers, it will only make your business a laggard, a second tier also ran, but by proactively designing human needs into everything, you will lead the way and “wow” with your consistent attention to detail. Think about your business and where you can design something better.

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