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Too Much of a Good Thing?

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Is it possible to have “too much of a good thing” when it comes to customer experiences?  My ongoing experience with a frozen yogurt franchise screams “yes!”  Sure, the staff greets me upon my entry through the door, asks me if I have been there, offers samples, is attentive, promptly provides me with my yogurt, etc.  But it is how they do it that really grates on my nerves.  I barely open the door a crack before I’m pounced up with greetings that feel rushed, forced, and insincere.  Inevitably they ask me if I have been there before right after the greeting.  Two things go through my mind each time:  Do they really think I’m incapable of ordering frozen yogurt and don’t they know me by now?   Each time they act as if I haven’t been there before so they explain the process.  Even when the same person serves me several times in a week (yes, I’m an addict), the routine is the same.   It’s like the movie Groundhog Day.   I see they recognize me but they stick to what I can only assume is a script, probably closely monitored. It’s eerie.  Imagine if you went to Starbuck’s daily for your coffee and the same person helped you and every time, they asked you if you had been there before.  The lack of recognition really takes the intended personal element away.   The result is a feeling of being disconnected.  I won’t bore you with specifics of the script, but I have it memorized.  What’s even crazier is when I give a non-standard answer or ask them how their day is going, they get tripped up.  They usually double-back and ask the same questions again, start at the top of the script and fumble their words.  I keep imagining smoke coming out of their ears like they are in system overload from a “non-conforming” customer.

So, why share this strange ongoing frozen yogurt experience?  It is because it is a reminder that you can’t beat a genuine authentic personal experience. Presumably, some well-intended manager developed this scripted approach with a positive, consistent customer experience in mind. The problem is their staff is forced to respond in such a rigid way, it comes across insincere, contrived and actually takes away from the experience all together.  When we develop tools to help our teams interact and improve customer experiences, keep the people element in there.  Empower your teams, don’t control them.  Something gets lost when we don’t put ourselves in the customers shoes. In fact it may be that what gets lost is the point of the experience altogether. 

How do you wow your customers in a sincere, authentic way? What is that personal touch that makes the difference in your customer interactions?  How do you empower front line employees to provide that experience?

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