I am regularly amazed by brand new facilities that are obviously user-unfriendly. They represent huge investments of time and money—but who are they designing it for?! If you want to improve customer service quality, every decision needs to be made with clients in mind.
A new airport in the Middle East is an impressive and expensive building. It’s huge, packed with stainless steel and halogen lights and lots of fancy gold. But it takes six escalators, two moving sidewalks and 3,446 steps (I counted) to get from the aircraft door to the taxi door at curbside. And no baggage trolleys are provided. This is not the way to improve customer service quality! What were the architects thinking about? Size? Grandeur? Physical exercise? Who were they designing it for?!
A sparkling new hotel opened in a major capital city. There is no clear signage directing guests from the ballrooms to the restrooms. The few signs that do exist are etched in muted gold on dark marble pillars. More obvious signage was considered inappropriate for such elegant decor. Very stylish, very chic. But who were they designing it for?! Obviously not to improve customer service quality.
I received a business card with a Realtor’s mailing address printed in four-point type. That’s very tiny print (less than half the size of these letters!) Graphic designers love tiny type. It’s so trendy, hip and cool. But it’s certainly not easy to read and does nothing to improve customer service quality. Who and what is a business card for?
I had to argue with the graphics company to print all the contact information in 14 point type on my stationery. (That’s bigger than these letters.) They said it was “too big, not nice, not sophisticated.” I said it had to be big to remain legible, even as “a fax of a fax.” I’m more interested in ways to improve customer service quality than increasing sophistication.
Try it with your stationery right now.
Fax a copy of your stationery to a friend, and ask her to fax it back to you. Now you have “a fax of a fax.” It happens a lot in business.
Now look closely at your contact information. If you have a 5, 6, 8 or 9 in your telephone number, is that number still easy to read? If the letter “i” or “l” appears in your mailing address, is it easy to distinguish those letters?
Who designed your stationery? Who approved your stationery? Who is your stationery really for? Improve customer service quality by always remembering who you ultimately serve.
At a new airline lounge in Hong Kong, a partition of colorful glass hangs from the ceiling. My luggage lightly brushed against it as I walked inside. The entire partition shook and several panels came undone. A staff member hurried over and began carefully reassembling the panels. (Thank goodness nothing broke.) I was embarrassed and apologized profusely.
“Don’t worry,” she replied calmly. “This happens all the time.” An airport lounge is a heavy traffic area. People are always moving in and out. What were the interior designers thinking? Who were they designing it for?!
Key Learning Point to Improve Customer Service Quality
It’s easy to get caught up in designing new things that are “cool” or “elegant” or “hot.” But if you don’t keep your customer in mind throughout, you could end up with an investment that’s “not.” Keep clients in the forefront of your mind with every decision and you can improve customer service quality.
Action Steps to Improve Customer Service Quality
Review your physical surroundings, points of customer interaction, your product, packaging and procedures.
Find something that could be clearer, more helpful or more “customer-friendly.” And once you find it, fix it to improve customer service quality.
Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission.
Published: May 3, 2013