When I think of ‘Creating an Experience’ I think of Starbucks, a company that sells coffee. However, Starbucks does not just sell coffee, do they? Starbucks is a company that created an ‘experience’ of coffee.
So much so, that many coffee companies followed suit in creating aesthetic and service ‘experiences’ that left the costumer wanting to come back for more. Creating atmosphere and service which tie coffee to conversation, learning, relaxation, friendship, laughter, as well as a mix of human needs and emotions. Brilliant! It is no longer about coffee but about the ‘experience’ of purchasing the coffee and what that grants us.
We have all heard of creating ‘customer experience’ which I believe solidifies the relationship between service provider and customer and enhances both the service and relationship. Working with varied service providers, I’ve witnessed first hand the success of a ‘customer experience’ focus.
Starbucks focused on four factors to create the Customer Experience: Atmosphere, Quality Coffee, Customer Service, and Partner (employee) Satisfaction. It is the fourth factor that I believe impacts all the rest. It was the belief of then director of marketing, Howard Schultz (now chairman and CEO), that happy employees would lead to higher customer satisfaction.
Yet, many service providers rarely focus on creating an experience for the ‘internal customer’, the company partner. In my way of thinking, this would be like expecting a car to run with no maintenance performed and no gas in the tank! I believe there has to be a balance of in and out focus. Meaning, if the company is all output to make sure your costumers are having a wonderful experience without paying any attention to the experience happening with the company, people will lose steam.
I became fascinated with the idea of creating a ‘customer service experience’ for myself that left me feeling happy at the end of the workday? What would it look like? What kind of work environment would keep me wanting to come back for more? How could I create an experience that would tie my work to the things I value and want as a thread through my life’s fabric-whether I’m in my professional life or personal life?
I explored these questions and set out to create my own ‘Starbucks’ experience. What I discovered was not only have I created an experience for myself, but also my productivity increased as a result! Happy employees (even if you are your own employee!) create higher customer satisfaction! I’ll share with you the 4 area’s I took into consideration:
What type of atmosphere do I prefer to work in? Am I more focused in silence or do I prefer background noise? Do I like to listen to music or does it distract me? Do I like the ‘cave’ feel or a lot of light? What about color-do I like a lot of color in my physical space or a more subdued palette? I often work virtually in between appointments. I started paying attention to the spaces I was drawn to work in. What is in those environments that I could duplicate in my office? What type of art am I attracted to? What in my life makes me feel good?
This really helped me to set my office up as a ‘feel good’ place to be-not just a place to do work. It is full of color, books, music, a whole wall white board (creativity) and lots of light! Every day I get to experience my life in my office instead of just doing work in my office.
Here I started with the question-What energizes me and what depletes me? Humor and Inspirational stories really energize me. One gets me enjoying the moment and the other offers me a broader scope of life. In creating my customer experience, I make sure I allow break time to experience both-which are readily available through youtube, social media etc.
The other question I asked was; what are my energy patterns? How can I create my work experience around my energy patterns? While energy patterns are a real science-learning how to work with them is truly an art!
I have a lot of mental energy in the morning so part of my created work experience was scheduling my heavy ‘thinking’ work in the morning as much as possible. When I made this shift, I found that I began enjoying this part of my work much more because my energy was aligned with my task at hand.
Productivity (Managing self in time)
What do I most enjoy doing in my work? What is like nails on the chalkboard to me? How do I manage my time and what tools do I need to set myself up for a great work experience? What do I need to do or have that would best serve me during my work hours?
The answers to these questions led me to hiring an Administrative Specialist and having her manage some new tools that are allowing me to have a great work experience!
And I also consider her ‘work experience.’ The great thing is that I hired someone who gets how to create a ‘work experience’ for herself. She is in her zone and I am in mine. High productivity and happy people-what could be better?
I was never the type to celebrate. I dreaded holidays, parties, and most anything that had to do with celebration. In my work, I focused forward-everything was a check off the list and I was onto the next…until!!! I was given some feedback on how my lack of celebration was hurting others as well as myself. Not recognizing accomplishment, growth, life changes, keeps everyone in a space of ‘never being good enough’! While this was never my intent, I could clearly see the impact. It was hard to hear and was the greatest gift given to me.
Now part of my created work experience is celebration. I celebrate when I reach a goal, experience growth, accomplish a feat I did not think I was capable of, or just because I can! I have a number of ways I celebrate-both large and small. I’ve also embraced celebrating others I work with and walk with in life. Party on!
I encourage you to create your own unique work experience. Don’t wait around for others to do it for you — take ownership of how you want to experience your workday! You won’t regret it.
 National Business Research Institute Inc. [US]; //www.nbrii.com/blog/the-customer-experience-starbucks/