You hear it all the time. Businesses waxing lyrical about the quality of their customer service. Few ever look for inspiration outside of their own competitive set to improve their offering. That's a mistake. 

We no longer exist in a world where your customer only judges the quality of your offerings and service against your competitors. They are stacking you up against all of their service providers to determine how good, intuitive and thoughtful you are.

The businesses that stand out work hard on crafting the perfect approach to working with their customers, often finding inspiration in industries they might least expect.

These 3 hacks will help to amplify and, in some cases, reinvent customer experience for your business by looking outward.

Improve your customer experience by design

Design is present everywhere in our lives, whether it's the comforting aesthetics of our own home, hotel room or favorite restaurant--and subconsciously design has the ability to create an emotional response.

If there's nowhere you'd rather (not be), a fair consensus would be the dentist's office, a place many equate with pain, impersonal service, guilt, and an overload of stainless steel. While even some upscale dental hygienists may decorate their offices with luxurious furnishings, few are rethinking the entire model when it comes to customer experience and design's impact on mental well-being. But, that's not the case at Grand Street Dental in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where owner and dentist Jennifer Plotnick created a warm, inviting, space with floor to ceiling windows, reminiscent of a well-curated sundries store.

By looking outside her industry to design as a means of creating comfort in an often uncomfortable setting, the space becomes an extension of the bustling neighborhood, at home with other retail storefronts--and it's deeply personal. Jennifer has curated the space with intention: art books, custom candles, gallery walls, soothing lighting and even WiFi boosters creates a space patients want to return to. It's an impressive approach and in doing so Jennifer has achieved the seemingly impossible--making people actually look forward to a trip to the dentist.

Make the customer experience feel like a trip to Cheers

Our own customers in the travel space compare our level of service to what they experience, and expect, in retail stores, cell phone providers, restaurants, and, especially, airlines. Increasingly, much in the travel market has become impersonal, commoditized and austere, leading to dissatisfaction, discomfort and bad reviews. Standouts in the travel sphere connect with consumers on a convivial, helpful and productive level.

The best travel providers take the time to connect personally with customers and make the experience seamless in a way that feels like you are connecting with a friend. When you travel on Korean Air, off the bat they approach and greet you, asking questions, making you feel at ease, regardless of where you are sitting on the plane. While they aren't the only name in air travel to practice this, the inspiration comes from the kind of service you expect in your favorite neighborhood restaurant. With the myriad of complications that face travelers now, the standouts connect personally with travelers to set the stage for a memorable experience.

Tapping tech when re-imagining hotel stays

What is often referred to as your 'peak' moment in travel comes at the end of your trip, and with hotels, the experience often varies. While checking-out may seem fairly standard across the board, it's an area of customer service that opens itself up for improvement and reimagination. CitizenM Hotels, the hotel chain and known innovators,  have taken a note from the efficiency and on-demand ease of Zipcar's success in how they personalize their check-in and check-out. In doing so they have minimized the dependence for relying on queues and improving the overall experience for busy travelers. Some hotels have even eliminated the traditional desk and opted for kiosks or comfortable lounge areas where you can interface with an employee.

When you leave a hotel stay, whether for work or pleasure, with an innate sense of satisfaction, you are more likely to return.

Innovations in customer service provide inspiration across all verticals and are everywhere you look. By applying practices and insights from other industries, you can change your customer service experience and become best in class. 

Published on: Oct 30, 2017