Customer experience is a game of inches

11/15/2017 03:43 pm ET
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Think back to a time when you’ve had a great customer experience. What about a really bad customer experience? Have you ever thought how a minor change in either scenario could have made all the difference? Imagine if, after an excellent meal, the hostess is rude to you on your way out of the restaurant; or if after a flight delay you receive an apology call from a company representative on your cell phone. How quickly a customer experience can flip.

It’s like a scene from one of my favorite movies – Any Given Sunday. If you haven’t seen it, Al Pacino portrays a football coach. His team is playing the biggest game of their lives, and they are getting beat up. In the locker room at halftime, Pacino addresses his team:

“You find out life’s this game of inches. Because in either game, life or football, the margin of error is so small. One half of a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half-second too slow or too fast, you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game, every minute, every second.”

Every time I watch that scene, I find myself nodding my head in agreement. The margin of error really is that small. One bad customer experience, and the outcome changes.

Organizations that can win the game of inches will deliver the best customer experience. A good customer experience means you not only understand who I am and what matters to me, but you also deliver it in a way that is true to your brand.

In my hometown of Raleigh, NC, there’s a popular steakhouse called the Angus Barn. If you’ve visited the area for business, there is a good chance you may have visited the Angus Barn, because for years it has been renowned for its quality, consistency and great service.

Even with all the steakhouses that have come into the city over the years, people continue to dine at “the AB” because of the little things they have come to expect – complimentary cheese, crackers and pickle bar while you wait; sides that still come as part of the meal and not as add-ons; a balloon and complimentary cake (yes, a full cake) on your birthday or anniversary. The service and hospitality are top-notch regardless of the employee or their position.

These traditional values of customer experience don’t have to be left at the door when it comes to a more modern, analytics-based approach. On the contrary: When a business uses analytics to know and understand its customers better than anyone else, it can deliver that customer experience faster and more efficiently than competitors.

One example of this is Twiddy & Company, which has specialized in managing vacation rental properties on the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina for more than 40 years. At the forefront of Twiddy & Company’s approach to the market is hospitality. The company wants to deliver the best experience for both homeowners and guests, to create better relationships between the two.

The company has been able to further drive that focus on hospitality by adding analytics (from SAS) to easily track expenditures, forecast and streamline routine property services, improve maintenance efforts, reduce error-related financial losses, and in turn deliver great experiences to homeowners and guests. As Clark Twiddy, Chief Administrative Officer at Twiddy & Company, told us: “What we deliver is hospitality – that's our passion and our business. Analytics has helped us, through better analyzing the logistics, to deliver it with a higher degree of confidence.”

When it comes to providing the best customer experience, it’s not easy and it’s not a one-step process. It’s an organization wide effort that is always striving for improvement. We’re all up against competitors who are battling for the same market space. That’s why you have to keep reaching for those inches. If your company has the drive, analytics will give you the ability.

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