You often hear people talk about magic moments, when companies go above and beyond to provide something unexpected. “Random acts of kindness” was the buzz term a few years ago and you will still see articles in marketing magazines showcasing what are often thinly disguised PR stunts as great customer experience, but if you want a successful brand/event then you need to understand the basic needs of your customers and make sure that you’re delivering these consistently and well!
It sounds simple but you’d be amazed how many companies invest time and energy as well as cash, in individual customer touchpoints whilst failing at some basic services. Perhaps it is the fault of the marketers (like myself) who dazzled by shiny new toys and creativity surge forward with great initiatives without taking their colleagues in operations with them. The impact of a logo and beautiful visual identity pale alongside the impact of your frontline staff.
Understanding Hierarchy of Needs
A couple of years ago we adopted a template I originally came across in an article on the Wikinomics website. I believe the original was taken from a book by Chip Conley “Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow”. The template was developed to structure customer interaction strategies in call centres so seemed a good starting point for venue brands where the brand image is completely dependent on getting the customer experience right.
The three-tiered model starts with “hygiene factors” – delivery against the basic needs of customers. For events that will include factors such as “the content is relevant”; “the event justifies its cost”; “the information about the event is presented in a convenient format”; “easy to purchase tickets”; etc.
For venues, basic needs are likely to be “easier to get to”; “roughly the right price”; “suitable for my needs” (size; structure; etc.); “is available when I want it”, “provides good facilities e.g. clean toilets, access, etc”, and “provides a reasonable level of customer service and support”. In short, the business is delivering what you expect and therefore provides you with a satisfactory experience. As you move up the pyramid the benefits and service move into areas that make it stand out from its competitors and start to wow you.
The important factor when exploring any hierarchy of needs is to identify those at the base which, if not delivered, will negatively impact the customer experience. Any business that spends against higher order needs before addressing the basics risk wasting money on “nice to haves” which have no impact on overall satisfaction.
Putting It into Practice
The central research team, always a great source of objectivity and neutrality in any business, conducted research to understand the basic needs of each different customer community and based upon this information created a pyramid for each business and each individual customer group.
From this we then asked a number of stakeholders in each of our businesses (from sales to frontline staff) to provide an honest rating 1-5 as to how they thought we consistently delivered against each of the needs identified. Their scores were aggregated and compared with information from our customer feedback programme and a single rating given to each area. Any area given a score below 4 was highlighted as in need of improvement and workstreams aligned to address concerns.
As well as helping to sharpen up areas of improvement, this focused approach has also helped prioritise investment, with teams now focused on invested in the areas most important to our customers.