Tag Archives: Customer Experience

Customer Experience is a Team Sport – How a no tipping policy is changing the New York dining world

unionsquarehospitalitygroup

Tipping in restaurants has always been a strange experience for me, being an Australian who has spent the last decade in the US. In Australia it is optional while in the US it is mandatory.

So it came as a huge surprise to learn that a very successful restaurant owner, Danny Meyer, in New York was going to change things in a big way by introducing a “no tipping” policy at his restaurants. Now these are not just run of the mill restaurants, they are some of the most successful in the hyper competitive Manhattan dining scene. Take the Modern for example, which was just elevated to 2 Stars by Michelin for 2016.

What can we learn about this significant policy move by Danny Meyer? Well in his words:

“We believe hospitality is a team sport, and that it takes an entire team to provide you with the experiences you have come to expect from us.”

Danny goes on to describe the crucial role all members of the team have in executing a brilliant customer experience. However, due to regulations on how tips are distributed not all members of the team are able to share in the generosity of guests. The bottom line was the way the rewards of success were being distributed had become unfair and had to change.

Now Danny did not arrive at this decision on his own, he solicited feedback from people across his organization. They discussed and debated it internally and once they gained alignment decided they would make it happen.

Think about your own experiences at a restaurant. How you feel about your experience is impacted not only by the server, but by whether the dishes and glasses are clean, whether the food is prepared just right, how you are greeted when you enter. Everything matters as each element can make or break your experience.

By raising the wages of employees that are behind the scenes and providing consistent wages to the front line servers (who often have customers that short change them on their tip), Danny aims to create a higher level of engagement and team orientation.

What will happen to the prices at their restaurants? They will go up to cover the existing tip percentage, so customers will effectively not pay more and will not have the pressure to decide how much to tip. Instead they can relax and just enjoy the experience.

Time will tell if this bold decision works for Danny and his Union Square Hospitality Group. I for one am betting it will and look forward to visiting the Modern next time I am in New York!

For more ideas on how to create a customer centric culture check out our award winning book, The Customer Culture Imperative.

3 Traits a Company Culture must have to create great customer experiences

warning-you-are-being-watched The way customers are treated by your company is a direct reflection of your company culture. If you have a culture based on fear and mistrust, customers will experience the ramifications. Have you ever felt like you were being treated like a criminal for returning a product or complaining about a service? It is highly likely that employees are punished for not following the rules, as a result customers are also punished for mistakes or speaking up.

Company culture can be a difficult thing to define, but just about everyone that works for a company can feel it or describe it in some way.

Software Advice, an online reviewer of HR technology, recently conducted some interesting research that demonstrates the wide range of views from employees on what makes for an attractive company culture. The most cited cultural trait that would attract employees? Honesty and Transparency.

Source: Software Advise

Source: Software Advice

Transparency

This leads us to the first of 3 must have traits, Transparency. Employees want to know where they stand, if the leadership is opaque and vague about performance expectations or what success looks like this is a recipe for low morale and poor customer experiences.

Empathy

The second must have trait is empathy. Empathy is about understanding the other person’s position, in this case understanding the customer’s point of view. What do customer’s experience? What are they trying to achieve? What are their frustrations and how can we eliminate them? A culture of empathy extends to how employees work with each other, what are the other department’s goals and how do we help them achieve their goals as well as our own. Companies that lack empathy end up with unhappy customers that leave.

Trust

The final must have trait is Trust. This relates back to my opening point, a culture of fear results in employees not trusting customers. The customer is out to get them, scam them, take advantage of them just like everyone else in this place! Low levels of trust narrows our thinking, employees go into a survival mode that results in short term wins at the expense of long term relationships.

Have you ever had the feeling you are not welcome when you walk into a retail store? (See the image at the top of this post) Unfortunately in retail, theft is a major problem, however, as with most major problems it is subject to the 80/20 rule. In other words most people are not thieves but the signage and the retail staff’s attitude can make everyone feel that way – not good for business…

Are these cultural traits present in your company?

The role of inspiration and emotion in customer focused culture change

The logical rationale for being customer focused is very hard to argue with.

We know that if we can make great products and create an awesome customer experience we will be more successful.

And yet we often find we get stuck in a short sighted web of fear and self interest that results in us not acting in a manner that will get us and our businesses the best results. In short culture stops us from making things happen.

At MarketCulture we have found that rationale arguments are not enough, people must emotionally buy-in to the idea of improving their own and therefore their organization’s customer focus.

When we can trigger both the rationale and emotion drivers we see change happen.

I have embedded a short video that describes the type of change we are looking to help our clients undertake, would love you feedback on if you think it is an effective way to communicate the message.

To improve customer experience take a look inside your corporate culture

A Customer Experience Culture

There is a increasing recognition of the fact that a customer’s experience with your company plays a significant role in customer satisfaction, retention and profitability.

So where do you start with a customer experience initiative?

In our experience the best place to start is by defining a vision and goal for a customer experience initiative that inspires people to want to get involved. This creates a reason for change, a compelling vision of the new customer experience that will be created and delivered by the company over time.

While customer experience is a process that can be mapped, refined and improved over time what is important in the beginning is to capture the hearts and minds of the people that are going to have to deliver the new experience. Why should they do things differently, how will changes in their behavior benefit them?

A good place to start an initiative is to gain a sense of the organization’s current culture as it relates to customer experience. Is the company’s culture already customer focused? Meaning there will be less resistance to changes that will clearly benefit customers. Or is the culture an internally focused one that sees the customer as a necessary evil?

The Market Responsiveness Index and the Customer Responsiveness Index are two tools we use to gain a sense of where the culture lies against a benchmark. This provides a great rallying point for company’s to self diagnose just how big a journey they need to undertake.

Why ownership is key to customer experience

I have had a very interesting start to the new year with great progress on a number of fronts mixed in with a reminder of why the work we do is so important…….

Last week my Sony Laptop crashed for the 2nd time within 3 months, as usual it could not be more poorly timed as we ramp up for the new year….

My customer experience has been nothing less than appalling, I have been trying for a week to get someone to take ownership of my problem. I have called 4 different numbers, used chat and tried to complete an online support form but have failed to get anyone to care enough to take ownership of my problem….. everyone keeps sending me somewhere else.

For companies to really prosper and grow they have to be market-driven and being market-driven from a personal point of view is taking ownership of issues that impact customer value and experience. It is so fundamental that any company that cannot meet this basic hurdle has a long way to go on their journey to being truly customer centric.

Have you seen Sony’s results lately? Unfortunately I am not surprised by the experience. See below their share price over the last 5 years, the chart below compares them with a truly market-drive company, Apple……

Sony Versus Apple