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Looking Through the Guest Lens

Businesses often spend too much time looking at things strictly from a financial point of view.

While that ensures a product, process, and model that delivers upon financial metrics and performance, it doesn’t always produce experiences that focus on the Guest.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look to improve your financial performance or efficiencies – but it does mean that they can’t be the only indicators of success in your organization.

We have all frequented a business that seemed more interested in making their lives easier at the expense of the Guest experience.  That doesn’t mean that the business was bad, just flawed.  It would be like going into a clothing store and the sales person showing you the clothes with the best margins regardless of your preference, size, or budget.

When you look at making changes to your business or implementing a new product or service, it is crucial for you to look at things from the Guest point of view.

Make sure your Guest is represented in decision making 

This is important as it focuses on what is best for the Guest.  It keeps them at the heart of your decisions and forces you to think about what they most want and need.  Think about what impact making a change could have and what frustrations that could bring.  If you are looking to streamline or eliminate a service point, will that inconvenience your Customer or will it simplify things for them?  Eliminated redundancy feels good, but can be seen as a cut in service if it makes a Customer put in more effort.

Above all, remember that reducing the amount of work a Customer has to put in to do business with you is a key indicator of whether or not they’ll continue to do so.  Guests love easy, to be sure, and reward those who prioritize their time and effort with their business.

Know what your Guests are trying to accomplish

When you take a step back and consider your Customer’s larger mission it can be easier to keep the focus on them.  It also makes it easier to innovate for them by keeping them at the center of your thinking.  Famously, visionaries like to believe that their Customers don’t know what they want until they are shown – but that is a bit off the mark.

Steve Jobs knew he wanted to put music in our pocket – and that lead to the iPod and iPhone.  So think about what a win looks like for your Guests and design to that, keeping in mind what they need to make their lives better or accomplish their goals.

Understand your Guest’s journey

How do your Customers interact with you?  They may interact with you online, on social, on the phone, in a store, or via email.  Each of these has positives and negatives, and each can be useful depending on what your Guest is trying to accomplish.  Think about a time when you started a conversation online with your cable company by looking for answer via self service and then having to bite the bullet and call them.  They had no idea where you were in the journey or why you were so frustrated when you had to repeat yourself.  Think about how good it would feel if you started a conversation in chat with the company that sold you your new drone (just as I did) and when you had to pick up the phone to call them, they picked right up where your chat left off.

Understanding what inspires, frustrates, and impacts your Guest as they interact with you is key if you want to build sustained relationships with them.

Listen to Guests and put their feedback to work

Guests are very open with their feedback, which is why testing and early iteration can be very beneficial.  Testing products in limited release is a valuable tool when you are looking at a new offering or change in process.  When you engage with Customers early in a process it allows time to make mistakes and dial in the final version.  It allows you not only talk to Guests, but watch them interact with a new product (which can often yield more meaningful results).  From there it is about listening to what Guests have to say and then driving improvement around those comments.

You may also have a Customer feedback system in place that allows you to learn what your Guests think of your products and services, and make changes based on that commentary.  One of the biggest fails in most Customer feedback systems is that companies don’t listen to the results and improve – or don’t get the information into the hands of the front line teams who can make the best use of it.  So be sure you are sharing this information widely and holding your team accountable for improvements.

Now all this isn’t to say that business decisions aren’t necessary – after all, if you aren’t profitable you won’t have a product to offer your Guests.

The point of the conversation is to ensure that your business isn’t solely focused on the P&L statement.

Great business decisions are fueled by many factors, and the ability to attract and retain Guests must be in the center of decision making.  So keep your focus on your Customers while you also consider innovation, efficiency, and product mix.

In other words, treat them like cherished friends with whom you want to cultivate a lifetime relationship.


Tony Johnson, CCXP -Guest Experience Expert-

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