Can You Plan for Customer Joy?

I sat at lunch finishing a proposal today. I’m at my favorite bagel shop* where, if I weren’t so busy, I’d notice that I’m having a lousy time. The diet Coke, my caffeinated lifeline, is watery, and the Italian Chicken Panini, which I indulge in only when I can afford the kcals, is gummy with cheese and nearly devoid of chicken.

I eat half (no kcal worries at least), give up, and go back to writing. On the face of it this is not a plan for customer joy.

While I’m lost in my own head, a half an hour passes. The Manager offers to clear my table (why I love this place—a clear table to spread out my work! I’m always there at an off hours, not taking room from a needy eater, and they make a peaceful haven for me to think). I look up for just enough time to say Oh, sure, and dive back into the work.

Maybe he notices my food is half-eaten, maybe it’s just his routine, but he pauses a moment in silence. I look up again.

How was everything today?

I consider the work I’m trying to do right now, then the work of Maximum Customer Experience that I do every day, and though it’s unlikely to make it up the corporate chain I stop, and decide to very politely tell him that one of his most loyal customers who will not hold it against him permanently had a terrible time, now that you mention it.

He asks questions. He probes deeper. Was the flavor right, even though the proportions were off? Yes. He has a look of genuine concern on his face. He makes me feel that he will look right into it. Though I’m not into being known at the place, I suspect that I am regular enough that he knows me a little. I ask for no resolution and he doesn’t offer anything.

(Now that I think of it, that’s almost odd—managers seem to comp things as a knee-jerk reaction these days. I think he just actually cared, and was really listening. Hmm.)

Cynical me says: I don’t think corporate drilled this into him, and I think the conversation was entirely dependent on the individual standing in front of me.

Experience Designer me says: Does that mean that corporate can’t engineer this? No.

Get right on it, Einstein’s (and you readers, too). Engineer your human interactions. Plan this part of the Experience. That doesn’t mean scripting behavior: It means scripting outcomes. It’s not the words your employees use, but the delight they are able to give to customers and prospects, that counts. Make sure every member of your team is empowered to make the customer’s day better than when they walked in the door (or clicked on your site, or called you…).

Did he look right into the great Panini debacle? It (almost) doesn’t matter. I know it was probably just a fluke. He made me feel he would, and that’s what left this customer feeling good after eating subpar food. Writing again, about my favorite bagel shop.

Whether you’re a one-(wo)man band, or managing hundreds, what does your company do to encourage awesome (human) Interactive Experience? How do you plan for delighted customers?

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson


*Einstein Bros., Marsh Road north of Wilmington, Delaware