It’s the little things that make the difference

shoes-stepping.jpgI am now back from my holidays, and I am getting a chance to catch up on the blogosphere (yeah!).  In Doug Karr’s entry today on his learnings from 2006, it was the little things that caught my eye.  In particular, his entries on Starbucks (#75) and Verizon (#77) brought a giggle to my lips as well as agreement.

Both entries have to do with managing the details of the customer experience.  When companies look at their operations from the internal perspective, they don’t see the hard chairs or the long lines that Doug mentioned.  When companies put themselves in their customers’ shoes, they notice the small details that can make or break the experience.  Before Christmas, I mentioned Best Buy bringing cookies around to customers in the store during the holidays.  They put themselves in their customers’ shoes and recognized that they might be tired and hungry.

Let’s look at a few examples of Customer Shoes, Company Shoes:

Customer Shoes: PG&E asking me if I want to get a call-back rather than wait on hold for 30+ minutes.

Company Shoes: Time Warner Cable keeping me on hold for 70 minutes so I can tell them I need to move my installation appointment.

Customer Shoes: Walking by any employee at my local Vons supermarket always elicits, “Are you finding everything you need?”

Company Shoes: Waiting for employees to stop talking to their friends and notice that I need help (pick almost any retail store with holiday help here).

One of the best things you can do as you enter the New Year is to walk in the shoes of your customer.  What does it feel like?  What works, and what doesn’t?  Don’t mess with what works, and go fix what doesn’t!

21 Responses

  1. I agree with you Carol, every detail, esp the little things matter. I like the way you put side by side the “customer shoes” and “company shoes.” It drives home the point. Keep at it! :)

  2. One of the hardest things I run into is to see my stores that I see all the time, day in and out, as a customer would. Trying to look at your store where you spend so much time with customer eyes is hard. You can tell the places that do it well though.

    On the flip side, I worked in fast food going through college and to this day I evaluate fast food places as if I still worked there, and notice things like dirty air vents over the tables… look up next time you’re in a restaurant at the filthy vents over your food. EW!

  3. Pingback : Os pequenos detalhes fazem a diferença at Empreenda JA

  4. I live in Brazil, and this week had a very similar experience as you had in Vons. In my local supermarket, a very nice lady approached me and offered help (I was lost looking for stuff my wife asked for). I was very surprised, since I was used to the usual “did you find everything you wanted?” at the cashier, and that doesn’t help the customer that much. The simplest ideas are usually the best…

    By the way, the trackback is from my entrepreneurship blog in Portuguese.

  5. Thanks for all the comments! This post definitely spurred a lot of thinking – great for the new year!

    Meikah, thanks for the encouragement.

    C.B., thanks for hooking in to my blog again from your great blog!

    Rich, I agree that looking at your own business with customer eyes is really tough to do. Many organizations find an impartial third-party to do some “mystery shopping”, which allows them to get an unbiased perspective. Some companies even enlist their own customers to do this!

    Luiz, obrigada for linking to my post from Brazil! I love your observation about the supermarket; the cashier’s version of that question is really too little, too late, isn’t it?

    Keep up the dialogue, guys and gals!

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