Are You Ready To Deliver?: Operations is the New Customer Experience
People walk in, not yet customers... and what do they see? Your brand and marketing efforts got them to the door, but now that they're in, what do you want them to see first? What do you want them to feel?
Too often, the operations team is challenged to make decisions based on a variety of critical factors independent of this moment of truth--price, timing, availability across the system, etc. There are so many logistical elements it is difficult to keep the customer, especially the first-time customer, top of mind when choosing furniture, finishes, vendors, and suppliers--never mind the way products and packages are developed and trained into the system with store-level personnel. Here are three ways to make sure your operations are delivering the best experience for your customers, Millennials or otherwise.
1. Practice makes perfect.
If you're providing party or event services, timing that experience as carefully as a possible is critical. Concepts like Pump It Up do this fluidly with children's parties. They have honed the specifics of that timing to near-perfection, allowing them to maximize the number of possible bookings, all while obscuring this from guests who aren't paying careful attention. Hosts move party guests from one room to another just as the kids tire of one group of inflatables. Then they bring in the next party from another door, seamlessly.
Managing guests through that level of complexity (especially large group of kids and anxious parents), to a great experience doesn't happen overnight. It's the result of careful refinement, communication, and training. The only snag in the operation for some units is the entry, where groups can pile up anxious to play and see parties exiting or moving through the store. This is likely something the ops team is improving today.
2. Line it up.
You've invested carefully in marketing efforts, measuring the results of specific campaigns and partnerships to determine effectiveness. Great! You've finally found the perfect mix that is driving people to the doors with a message promising something amazing once they come inside. But do the choices you make on the operations side align with your marketing? Whether intentional or not, the messages and brand image promoted in your advertising are a promise to your customers. When people respond to marketing, they can be pleasantly surprised or totally disappointed when they experience the real thing. Does your advertising promise great service? If so, make sure you've trained your staff to over-deliver on service.
3. Fear of missing out (FOMO).
Once upon a time, we all talked about features of service and loyalty referred to as "surprise and delight." These are the little details we use to reward customers for being customers, and they are as important as ever. In fact, they're more important than ever. When worked into an operations program properly, they can create a lasting memory for a customer, which goes a long way... longer than usual.
Today, customers who have a great experience (or a lousy one) are empowered to share it instantly and reach thousands of people. In a recent study by Citizens Relations Canada, 68 percent of Millennials said they have made a reactionary purchase shortly after seeing someone else's experience--often within 24 hours. They blame FOMO for this behavior. When people see a great experience, they want to share in it--and that means customers.
Operations can be the unsung hero of any franchise organization by doing the hard work needed to bring an experience to life. Keeping the three tips above in mind can maximize those efforts to make sure that the customers you earn have the best possible experience. This will help spread the word about your company, leading to potential customers following them in.
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