The Cow Hide Chair Experiment

cowchairThe chair was very unique in the pleasant but largely functional reception area.  It was an intricately carved oak straight back chair.  But, what set it apart from all the other chairs and sofa was the fact that the chair’s seat was upholstered in cowhide of a Texas longhorn.  The brown spots on the white background exactly matched the caramel colored wood.  It was the centerpiece of an experiment I talked my dermatologist into trying.  So, here is the back story.

My dermatologist was refurbishing the reception area of his satellite office—the office nearest my home.  I had given him a copy of my book on innovative service so he asked for my suggestions on the look of the reception area.  “Why don’t you make one chair significantly different from all the others.  Put it within easy view of your receptionist and ask her to pay attention to how often that special chair is favored over all the others seats.”  He agreed.  And, chose the cowhide covered oak chair for his pilot.

Since I only see him twice a year, I was eager to learn how his test turned out.  “You were exactly right,” he excitedly told me as he froze one of the suspicious spots on my arm.  “People picked that cowhide chair over ones that were clearly more comfortable.  And, it proves your point:  patients want a unique, off-the-beaten path experience.  I have already contacted my decorator to look for other ways we can create a special memory for our patients.”

Now, he and I both know that one chair in one doctor’s reception area does not a valid case make!  Yet, it definitely gave him a new peephole into the potential of innovative service.  Plus, his new innovative service perspective freed him up to look for other applications.  Try your own experiment.  What could you do to make your customer’s experience unexpectedly unique?

Photo Credit: Flickr via Cinderellasg

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Dr. Chip R. Bell is a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and innovative service. Global Gurus ranked him in 2018 the #2 keynote speaker in the world on customer service; #1 in North America. He also is the author of numerous national and international best-selling books including Take Their Breath Away, Managing Knock Your Socks off Service, Magnetic Service, The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service and Customers as Partners. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

His newest customer service book is the award-winning, best-selling book Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.

Dr. Bell has appeared live on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, Fox Business, ABC, CBS, NPR Marketplace and his work has been featured in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, and Fast Company.


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