Watching a skilled magician is an exercise in awe. Try as we might to see through the sleight of hand, we come away amazed. We know there is a rational explanation. But in our hearts we aren’t so sure. It leaves us with a feeling of enchantment. Innovative service––service that takes customers breath away–is strikingly parallel to fine stage magic.
One innovative service technique underutilized is focusing on the “outcome after the outcome.” It means thinking about what the customer will be doing with the service outcome after you’ve done what the customer expected. “We try to guess what is beyond our customers’ purchase,” says John McClesky of the men’s suits department at the Nordstrom’s Dallas store. “Recommending a tie with a new sports jacket is typical sales talk. But if you learn your customer is buying the jacket for a cruise, you might explore dressy shorts, an ascot, or a Panama hat.”
Consider the possibilities of what customers might be doing, thinking, or feeling after you have met their presented need. What small gesture would make your customer swoon? A bit of subtle conversation about life after the met need can often surface opportunities. Instead of asking, “Would there be anything else?” ask, “What have we not thought of that would make your hotel stay really special?” Make your queries reach into the future for clues ripe for innovative service. What do customers’ outcomes after the outcome teach you about ways to surprise them?
Cartoon courtesy of Ron Kaufman (www.upyourservice.com)