This is another article in my continuing series on
the Ten Values Of Excellence. Environment is
another of the ten essential components of a
complete Customer Satisfaction Experience.
While we all see our office, plant, restaurant or shop every day, it’s important to understand how your customers see it – and how it can negatively or positively affect your enterprise.
The first aspect of environment every business owner should consider is cleanliness and organization. Even if you can’t afford the fanciest furnishings, your environment needs to be clean and organized so that customers won’t get that bad fist impression. While you might be the quintessential professional at what you do, disorganization and dirt can cause a lack of customer confidence right off the bat. There really isn’t a good excuse not to have your establishment looking in tip top shape whenever customers come in, and our research consistently shows that yes, customers notice.
The second aspect of Environment is that customers want yours to be aesthetically pleasing. Maximizing the view, proper lighting, great artwork, design and more can go a long way to putting the customer in the frame of mind you want – rather than leaving it to chance. If you are lacking in good ideas for aesthetics – look to your competitors and see what is working for them. Your customers have a specific expectation for your industry – make sure you are least meeting that standard and then exceed it if you can. You could be doing a lot of things really well with your business – it would be a shame to have an unappealing appearance taking away from otherwise positive customer impressions.
Another dimension of Environment that we measure in our Excellence Auditing work is whether or not the environment feels warm and welcoming. This is that feeling you get when the owner recognizes you and knows your name, makes a special seat available for you at the sushi counter and greets you with an obvious message of warmth and happiness at seeing you - the customer. We’ve all seen businesses where the front line personnel seem more like prison guards who act like they are doing you a favor to pay attention to you, the customer who is actually there to do business. This is where hiring front line service personnel with a positive, enthusiastic and serviceful attitude can make a real difference with your customers. (More on that in the article on Self-Management and Front Line Service Behaviors).
Besides feeling psychologically safe, customers should feel physically safe as well. Are the steps covered with ice? Is there construction going on where something could fall on someone? Is there an obnoxious tattoo covered biker hanging around your bar that is scaring off your customers? Your customers have plenty of other choices for places to go where their safety is never in question. Is the gang graffiti on the side of your building sending a bad message or taking away from the beautiful frontage you have invested in? You have no way of knowing how many potential customers choose to drive by because a place looks ‘a little sketchy’ and they are worried about getting their car broken into or having to walk down a dark street where they feel like they might be robbed. Business owners need to do everything they can so their customers can be made to feel at ease.
Finally – as is referred to heavily with all of the Ten Values OF Excellence – Environment should be considered with an eye towards benchmarking your competition. There are standards for your industry to meet indeed, but what are the best companies in your market doing? Look to emulate the best and your environment will receive high scores for Environment just like your competitors do.
The Ten Values Of Excellence© each play a part as statistical predictors of customer satisfaction, and while you might be doing great in nine of them – none can be neglected or Customer Satisfaction can rapidly deteriorate to the point where there is no return and recommend effect, where customers become indifferent to your business or worse – you fall into the zone of customer dissatisfaction, and actually have a negative return and recommend rate (customers are talking bad about you).
Go to www.BartBerry.com to learn more about customer satisfaction behavior, the Ten Values Of Excellence and auditing your own business to find out whether or not many of your customers will be coming back.
Want to audit your restaurant according to the Values Of Excellence?