Getting Your Customers To Paint

“My right hand shakes a bit as you can see,” he said, as he was serving his plate next to me at the giant salad bar. “But, when I stand at the easel and paint, it does not shake at all.”

The author of these powerful words came from a high school classmate at our recent class reunion. Phil Lavely is a renowned painter of wildlife in the Savannah area. His fascinating lines caused me to research if this phenomenon was unique to Dr. Phil, or more of a universal one. I learned an important fact: when people focus on the process and not just the result, their stress level drops significantly. You can read more about it in Painting Your Way Out of a Corner by Barbara Barry or The Creativity Cure by Alton and Carrie Barron.

What is the message for service providers? Focus on an innovative process or experience with your customers, not just a service outcome for your customers. Let me provide an example.

On a three-week driving vacation several summers ago, my wife and I stopped at a coin-operated laundry in Montana. The place was spotless, inside and out. A pot of hot coffee and a vase of fresh flowers rested on a small wooden table next to the change machine. Two snapshots of the owner’s’ family adorned the bulletin board, along with a 24/7 phone number “if we can help.” Other customers had accepted the obvious invitation to add pictures of their families. On the wall was a colorful welcome sign, including a reminder: “Don’t forget we have free Wi-Fi.” The newspaper rack had an unexpected surprise––a left-behind Wall Street Journal. And, it was that day’s edition!

Why did we stop? To get our clothes washed and dried—a clear and simple outcome. For people with little patience to wait, we were anxious to “get ‘er done” and scoot. After all, Montana adventure was loudly calling. But, the owners of the laundry gave us a chance to “paint” instead of just wait. Look for ways to enable and enhance your customer’s experiences rather than just quickly and accurately meeting their needs.

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