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Making Memories and My Hair… What both of these topics have to do with Customer Experience.

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One of my favorite “guilty pleasure” movies is Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde (2003). While definitely not an Oscar-worthy performance for the high profile actors in this film, it did have a great message about one person being able to affect change in the world. I feel a connection to the film’s central character, Elle Woods, as I attempt to affect change in the Customer Experience world. So today, I’d like to channel my inner “Elle” and share with you something that, and I quote from the movie … “is about a matter of highest importance to every[one]… my hair”. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, take a few minutes to watch this scene before you read on!

Who doesn’t love a little pampering? Not so long ago, I was a regular at my local salon. I had standing appointments for mani/pedis and was religious about my hair maintenance schedule. I counted my stylist and cosmetologist among my closest friends. I looked forward to these trips to the salon with great pleasure.

Fast forward a few years… as a working mother, with a 2 year old and 4 year old, these trips are few and far between. My definition of “me time” has been reduced to being able to use the bathroom without an audience. Throw in a recent move to a new city, and I find that it has been over 3 months since my last trip to the salon. I have serious split ends and tootsies that are not fit for open-toe shoes (should Spring ever decide to arrive)! I decided to take a few hours out of my week for a much-needed haircut and pedicure, and some hard-earned “me time”. I looked forward to this appointment with the same excitement as Elle Woods described about FINALLY getting an appointment at the salon in Beverly Hills that catered to the rich and famous like Julia Roberts or the actresses of Friends.

Please don’t get me wrong! I am NOT complaining about the place I chose to restore my hair and toes to some resemblance of their formal state. I received exactly the services that I paid for. But, like Elle, I left there feeling that it was “all wrong… for me”. I didn’t feel rejuvenated by my trip to the salon was because I didn’t enjoy the “experience”.

That very same day, I read a blog post by Bruce Jones, Programming Director for Disney Institute, which captured exactly what I was feeling. In the post, he wrote: “The difference between a customer service interaction and a customer service experience is distinct. Instead of merely processing the transaction, the Cast Member … seeks out ways to make the Guest’s experience a more enjoyable one.”

He’s exactly right. We can give the customer exactly what they are paying for, thereby providing adequate customer service, but completely miss the mark on providing an excellent customer experience. In my case, I received the services I paid for, but the stylist never once told me her name and did not make any efforts to engage me in conversation during the 2 hours we spent together. I learned, that to me, my visits to the salon aren’t just about the haircut or the pedicure, but also about the social experience.

I also read a blog earlier this week by Colin Shaw (@ColinShaw_CX), one of the world’s leading experts in Customer Experience, and best-selling author on 4 business books on the topic. In his blog, he provides a very compelling argument about why you should be as concerned about the memory of an experience, as you are of the experience itself.

When I think back to the many hours I spent at my previous salon, the memories were of the fun and engaging conversations we had – not the outcome of the services performed. The memory I have of the salon I visited this week, is that I was bored and couldn’t wait to leave, even though my split ends were gone, and my toes were once again open-toe-shoe-worthy.

So, I challenge you to think about the journey your customers take within your company. Are you simply processing the transactions, or are you fostering an environment that provides an outstanding customer experience throughout the journey? What are you doing to make sure that the memory of the experience is as positive as the experience itself? How do you ensure that people like Elle and me don’t walk away feeling that it was “all wrong… for me”?

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