Window dressing is not the answer for improving experiences, but here are four meaningful steps that are.

I have been hearing a lot lately about car dealers who have added coffee bars and free manicures to their dealerships. That all sounds nice but is that what customers want?

While all those niceties are, well, nice, they are only window dressing unless the overall experience is great. From the marketing to the environment of the dealership to the sales process to the financing to the drive off the lot to the service experience to the long-term relationship, it all needs to be easy, enjoyable, and effective from soup to nuts. If the dealer has not made every part of the experience friendly and functional, they are just using a bunch of icing to make a broccoli cake taste better.

This is what too many businesses are doing. They think improving experience is about stuff like this. Problem is, all they are doing is putting up a façade while neglecting what’s behind it. Customers don’t want a bunch of icing; they want a cake that tastes good all the way through.

So, what about your business? Are you looking at every element of the experience from the people who deliver to the place where you deliver it to the processes people must work through to the product people are getting? Are all those things optimized as far as comfort and friendliness as well as their functional ability? This is what customers want, not just a bunch of nice shop windows.

If you believe in the power of great experience and want to grow your business, here are four steps.

  1. Align everyone in the operation around delivering value first rather than getting returns first. Everyone in the organization needs to understand that giving must come first and getting anything is an outcome of that.
  2. Listen to your customers and your frontline employees to learn more about what is needed. Maybe you need to improve your process or your product. Maybe you need to clean up your shop or your website. You will never know unless you are listening and looking for ways to make things better.
  3. Serve those around you. If you want the organization to deliver value to customers, everyone inside the organization needs to deliver value to each other—and that begins with you.
  4. Optimize for friendliness as well as functionality. Most organizations spend a lot of time ensuring that every delivery system (people, products, processes, places) is technically excellent, a.k.a. highly functional. They train, design, set standards, etc. to be sure that everything can get the job done efficiently and at a high level of quality. However, what gets neglected is how it all impacts humans. In other words, they rarely ask the question, “how friendly is this to customers or employees?” If you want your business to stand out, start asking that question about every element, and then get to work improving things that are not so friendly.

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