A BIG thanks to Debra Margles, President of Michael Kors Canada for a fabulous foreword, and to world-leading Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith for his wonderful endorsement.
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In Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, Dr. Martin Seligman writes about a medical experiment that elucidates a powerful business lesson, and one that is immensely powerful for our learning in this book.
“In one experiment], 682 patients were randomly assigned to either the usual colonoscopy or to a procedure in which one extra minute was added on at the end, but with the colonoscope not moving. A stationary colonoscope provides a less uncomfortable final minute than what went before, but it does add one extra minute of discomfort. The added minute means, of course, that this group gets more total pain than the routine group. Because their experience ends relatively well, however, their memory of the episode is much rosier and, astonishingly, they are more willing to undergo the procedure again than the routine group. In your own life, you should take particular care with endings, for their color will forever tinge your memory of the entire relationship and your willingness to re-enter it.”
Of course, the concept of the “end” of an experience is tricky to measure, isn’t it? It’s like the old philosopher’s trick of saying that you can’t really tell if you’re happy until after you’re dead, because a life can only be measured in its totality.
This is bunk in philosophy, and it’s bunk here. For our purposes, we can define an “ending” as the most recent experience that a client has with your company. It’s a fitting definition, too, because if that last experience is bad, it may very well be the ending of their relationship with you.
Think about that for a moment.
What it’s telling us is that even a wonderful vacation can be ruined on the last day of the vacation. The customer is more likely to remember the negative experience as opposed to the positive experience. A fine meal at a fancy restaurant can be ruined and forgotten by a negative experience when trying to pay the bill.
How can you ensure that your customer experiences start and end as well as possible?
Of course, it’s easy to see how this applies to a cruise or at a restaurant. But what about day to day in other businesses, where it’s much harder to define an experience?
In the following, you’ll find three sample situations; your challenge this week is to describe how you would end, resolve, add to, or rectify the situation. Write down the answers, or use these with your scenarios with your team to see how they might respond. Keeping in mind that endings are one of the most powerful parts of the customer experience, how would you end the following situations?
Your customer and his wife have stayed at your hotel for the last seven days. They had a fantastic experience and were thrilled with the entire vacation. But the experience ended poorly. The night before leaving, they had the concierge book a car to take them to the airport. They booked the car for 6 a.m., but the concierge booked it for 6 p.m. When they arrived in the lobby at 5:45 a.m., there was no car and nobody at the concierge desk.
You tried calling the car service but got an automated machine asking you to leave a message. You checked Uber for the customer but found the nearest car was showing as 25 minutes away. You called the local taxi company, but they had nothing available. Your shuttle driver just left with another group on the way to the airport.
What do you do?
You’re the sales manager of a car dealership for a prestigious brand. One of your youngest sales reps is leading the charge for most cars sold during the past month! He has an uncanny ability to create rapport with his customers and sell cars.
On this particular occasion, a family of four is picking up their new car. He doesn’t realize the family is there when he makes a rude comment about the man’s wife. The couple pretends they didn’t hear the comment, but you know they did and the experience has gone from great to awkward.
What will you do?
You’re the president of a commercial property development company. You’ve worked for the last 25 years to build a portfolio in the billions, and you pride yourself on your customer service. Your sales team has spent the last six months wooing a new tenant. They’ve finally signed on the dotted line, and your sales team gets the customary celebration party.
As the president of the company, you think all is fine and the tenant is thrilled until you finally hear from the tenant six months later. He’s unhappy because, in his eyes, he was only given a set of keys to the complex and never heard from anyone on your team ever again. He’s received no follow-up calls. Your sales team even neglected to give the tenant the welcome package that you’d spent so much time and money developing a few years back.
The tenant goes on to say that he’d also sent an email to his sales rep about a plumbing issue a month ago and he never heard a thing. He says in 20 years of business, he has never had a team spend so much time overpromising and under delivering on so many levels. He’s considering contesting the lease, but because he respects you so much, he wanted to discuss the situation with you first. The situation has escalated to where he’s called you personally.
For Bonus Points: Email me to let me know how you and/or your team would respond to the scenarios described above.
P.S. My co-author and I did a bonus episode of The Evergreen Show where we discussed some of the concepts in the book. You can find that HERE!