IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

It’s the Customer Experience, Stupid

Service delivery, even for something as simple as PC installation, impacts how customers perceive your company. By Steve Riat

MANAGED SERVICE PROVIDERS that want to increase their operational maturity level spend a significant amount of time building processes around products and solutions. From presales to implementation and all the way through to follow-up, you define each area of responsibility and document the correct procedure from beginning to end. My organization has spent the last couple of years not only diagramming each solution we offer, but also rewriting our sales and delivery documents. Going through this effort has significantly helped get sales and operations on the same page as well as boosted profitability.

One thing that really hit me between the eyes after this exercise, though, was how the delivery process impacts customer experience. Current research clearly shows that customers buy the experience as much as or more than the products we sell. My recent overnight stay at a hotel provided clarity on this topic.

Upon arrival at the hotel, my check-in was easy—great customer experience so far. Once in my room, however, that quickly went downhill. As I always do, I put my bag down and headed over to the thermostat. The room was one of those configured like an extended-stay place where you have a small living room with a desk and TV, then further in was the microwave and refrigerator, then the bathroom, and through another door was the bedroom with a king-size bed and TV.

Near the microwave was one of those older, round thermostats that you must twist for temperature control. It was already set below 60, but the room was warm, so I checked to make sure it was on and set to cool. Check and check. But still no air. This is when I noticed a unit under the window with a digital display. I set the temperature to 65 and cool air started to pour in. The whole process of setting the temperature took five minutes.

Since it was late evening when I arrived, I thought I would sit on the bed, watch the news, and catch up on some work. This is when I realized that I couldn’t see the TV because my feet were in the way! 

In the morning, I had some time before needing to leave so I settled down in the living room and opened my computer. This area was very warm. Well, no problem. I saw a fan on the wall between the bedroom and the living space, so I decided to turn it on and circulate some air. Wait. There was no switch on the fan? I proceeded to flip every switch on the wall in the bedroom, bathroom, and living area that was near the fan, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, I just gave up.

Small Details Make the Difference

Overall, my stay at this hotel was satisfactory—my interaction with the staff was fantastic, the bed was comfortable, and the room was clean. Yet I couldn’t get over how my customer experience could have been superior with just a few small changes, starting with the thermostat. Most people who come into this room will likely start with the old thermostat, as I did. Remove it! Or at a minimum, put a sign on it directing guests to use the window unit.

Next, reposition the bedroom TV so a guest’s feet don’t block the view. Put it on a higher dresser or table, or mount it on the wall! Last is the fan. I finally found the switch when I was leaving the room and shutting the lights off. Guess what? The second switch (by the main door) turned the fan on. Small signs and low-cost improvements could have significantly improved my stay.

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