When I first graduated from college way back when, the jobs that I was finding were not exactly what I expected when I started my degree four years earlier. After a long stint as a temp trying to collect payments from commercial accounts at an HVAC company with the worst HVAC system I’d ever encountered, I found a full time job as a formalwear consultant. While I may not have realized it at the time, based on the commitment of the management at Nedrebo’s Formalwear, I had the opportunity to attend a full day of training on customer satisfaction. They taught me that when a customer walks into the store, you want to talk to them about them – people love to talk about themselves. And they taught me that I needed to know about the rest of the wedding and where the bride and groom might find services or products that we did not offer. Looking for rental dresses? Across the street and down a block from the Odana Road store. Higher end cuff links? If the assortment in store did not meet their needs, I learned which stores in the mall had the best selection depending on the range they were looking for. Wanting to coordinate the colors with pocket squares? I gently suggested that they may want to gift those to the groomsmen (only $3.50 at the time, but a nice touch if you can afford it since they would not likely use it again). I patiently taught the guests how to wear their cummerbunds (pleats facing up so that they look like they could catch the crumbs at the meal). On busy prom weekends, we scheduled them for pickups in 10 minute increments, and made sure every last tux fit every last boy, while at the same time making sure our wedding guests did not get caught up in the frenzy. All because this provided our guests with the best experience while they were in our store. So that their formalwear did not become just one more hassle before their big event.
Paul Borowski notes in his post about Moving Quality Beyond the Product, that, “For some executives, their understanding of quality is exclusive to product. For others, it’s the improved performance of the enterprise, which includes the product/service.” My time at Nedrebo’s ended more than 15 years ago. Clearly some companies adopted experiential quality years ago, while others (gaging by the eye rolling I got when I asked the young girl at the fast food drive through window for the yogurt I ordered and not received, and then had the nerve to ask her for a spoon for my daughter to eat with) will never get it. How do you help create a quality experience for your customers?