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March 2008

No Stone Unturned in Search for Customer Service

Stones_in_sink_2 Why are rocks in the bottom of this lavatory? Do they serve a purpose? Or, do they just look “kind a’ cool”? And what do they have to do with customer service?

Our daughter got married last Saturday at Fellowship Church in Dallas. When I went to the men’s restroom to cry my head off one more time before the wedding, I noticed these smooth, gray stones in the bottom of all the sinks. At first I thought they were there for aesthetics. But, later that evening we were at a restaurant and when I went to the men’s room to wash my hands, it hit me - literally. There were no rocks in the bottom of this sink, and when I gently lifted up the handle to turn on the faucet, the water shot out with such force – the phrase “like trying to fill a teacup with a fire hose” came to mind – that it splashed out the opposite side of the sink and drenched the front of my khaki slacks.

Yes, it looked like I’d wet myself.

Despite the discomforting thought of having to reenter the restaurant with wet pants, I made a connection to the church’s restroom: The water crashes over the rocks and disperses into bubbling rivulets that disappear down the crevices no matter how fast you turn on the faucet.

This is an example of when an element of the customer experience goes largely unnoticed. That’s the downside; there’s no payoff. No one is going to run and tell their friends, “Hey, you’ve got to go to this church and see the rocks in the sink.” But, then, no one has to worry about walking into the church service with wet pants, either.

It’s like providing so-called "great customer service." Few customers notice, because they expect great service. However, they do notice poor service. And they notice when the sink in your bathroom causes them to wet their pants.

Of course, going to the trouble to find a way to keep water from splashing out of the sink, reflects something larger - the church’s attitude towards its visitors and members. Obviously, if the church leaders search for subtle ways to make a guest’s visit as pleasant as possible, they look for the big ways, too – like multiple services, educational programs, innovative presentations, and a huge floor-to-ceiling glassed-in “crying room” (obviously, designed for the father of the bride). As you might guess, Fellowship Church is one of the “mega-churches” that draws thousands of worshippers every week.

Building a better experience for our customers doesn’t always involve spending a lot of money to dazzle them. Search the buying environment you’ve created and look for subtle ways to ensure your customer’s comfort and enjoyment. Remove potential obstacles and make it easy for customers to do business with you. Often a small change can make a big difference. And don’t be disappointed, if no one seems to notice.

P.S. On May 13th - May 14th, I'll be teaching a 2 day workshop with Tom Wanek at the beautiful campus of the Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas. Be one of the first twelve to register for our course, "Fight the Big Boys and Win" and you'll stay at the Engelbrecht House for free!

Yours truly,

Mike D