National Customer Service Week is October 7-11, 2013. It is a week we spotlight the power and prosperity found in delivering an innovative customer experience. In the days leading up to Customer Service Week we will offer a key principle you can use to elevate the delight in your customers’ experience. Let’s have some fun today with the Circus Principle.
Ask ten global road warriors to name the best airline in the world and nine will likely have Virgin in their top five. Founder Richard Branson created the wildly successful Virgin Atlantic by following two of his five core values: innovation and fun! Most airlines view the customer’s travel experience as the space between check-in and arrival and/or baggage claim. Branson realized the travel experience for the customer started when they left home and was not done until they arrived at their ultimate destination. Mapping the phases of the customer’s journey on a pleasure or pain scale, Branson learned that everything before boarding the plane and after arrival was painful; only the flight was on the pleasure side of the pain-pleasure line.
Like the Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey circus coming-to-town started with the colorful posters on telephone poles and the parade down Main Street and ended with the souvenir you took home, Branson elected to own the travel experience before and after the flight. Here is the result. For a couple of hundred dollars more a limo picks you up at your home and transports you to the terminal in style. Upon arrival you are given your boarding pass and the Virgin Skycap takes care of checking your luggage while you proceed to the Virgin Clubhouse where you can get a massage or manicure, play virtual golf, or just relax. Once you land, a limo meets your flight, helps with your luggage, and transports you to your ultimate destination. Innovative service can begin before the main attraction and continues long afterward to create long-lasting customer memories of delight.
What can you do to follow the CIRCUS Principle? Anticipate what might ready your customer for his or her service encounter. Carefully think through potential wait time. Universal Orlando shows movies to entertain guests as they stand in the queue waiting for an attraction. On the opposite side of the encounter, lay out in your mind the possibilities of what customers will be doing, thinking and feeling after you have met their presented need. 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 and the customer will provide you clues ripe for an occasional marvel.
Get out the marshmallows and come back tomorrow for the Campfire Story Principle!