How often do you say “no” to a lucrative business opportunity? I have come to believe that excellence requires a willingness to pass on those opportunities where you are likely to be mediocre, or where those new opportunities will take your focus away from where your attention is needed to maintain or achieve excellence.
That said, I frequently get asked to work for businesses where the senior leaders will effect my efforts in the direction of mediocre results. In some cases those leaders lack a passion for genuine customer experience excellence while in other’s they lack an understanding of customer experience objectives.
For example, one senior leader asked me to help make his service offering, in his words more “entertaining, kinda like that fish market in Seattle you wrote about.” As we explored his possibility more, it became increasingly clear that he was looking for me to help him create some scripted activities that would entertain guests while they waited in line at his retail establishment.
As much as I tried to explain the differences between “engaging” customers and “entertaining” them, he was committed to a desire to entertain and I elected to pass on the opportunity. From my perspective, he would have been better off talking to customers about the satisfiers and dissatisfiers of their experience before we started trying to think of ways to “amuse” them. I was certain that he didn’t need to teach employees “magic tricks” to perform for the guest in line until he understood if, from the customers perspective, they needed to think about getting rid of the line in the first place.
Since 2004, researchers like Poulsson and Kale have shown that “amusing” customers has limited perceived value in terms of their overall impression of an experience and that entertainment alone does little to drive customer loyalty. All of this served as a reminder to me of the basics of perceived customer value:
listen and observe your customers,
enhance satisfiers, and then
sprinkle in positive engaging elements (which draw customers in through novelty, surprise, and learning)
In other words, putting good frosting on a bad cake does not a positive experience make.