Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Early on in my career I worked with a team in a contact centre. The team were in effect providing a utility type service. The service they provided did not require their input to make it work unless something went wrong. When the service failed customers would contact them. We used to discuss this with team members as inevitably they were not contacted by happy customers.
I don’t know how many of you finished your nice warm shower this morning and then picked up the phone to your water or energy company to thank them. But the morning the water stops halfway through your shower and you are left cold and covered in soap you are bound to contact them then and you are unlikely to be happy.
The point about service it that most services should be frictionless and intuitive to the point you don’t really notice them. They should be designed to be unmemorable but easy and efficient. This equally applies where things go wrong with a service the resolution, complaints and escalation processes should follow exactly the same principles but will be more memorable as problems are out of the ordinary and your chance to resolve this efficiently leaves an impression and is evidenced to build loyalty.
Other roles have taken me into environments where you are not providing just a service but an experience. In these cases’ you may be provided a unique experience, or a service led experience. In both of these elements, the desire is to be memorable and memorable for the right reasons.
An experience is something which is new and unexpected and does not follow a format. An example might be an immersive experience such as an escape room. Whilst there is a format this is not necessarily established or well-known and there is licence to be highly creative with the format in order to enhance the experience.
A service led experience is one which follows a set format but where points within the service/process allow for the creation of positively memorable experiences. The obvious example is visiting a restaurant. The process or service is fairly standard. You arrive, sit, order, eat, drink, enjoy, pay and leave. Where we become dissatisfied if the frictionless parts of this process do not work. For example, we order but wait too long or the food we ordered is not what we receive, or we wait too long for the bill. Where we create great memories are through the points in the process where experience should be created. This could be the quality and attentiveness of the service, the taste of the food or drink, the ambiance and theatre of the environment. These are the points where good restaurants become great restaurants. Some restaurants walk the dangerous line of trying to create experience at the points where they should be providing frictionless service. Think of the menu that requires a culinary degree and proficiency in multiple languages to decipher or the ordering process which requires a long explanation from your server to understand or the bathroom door signage which leaves you hovering wondering which door is right for you. These creative attempts at enhancing an experience often have completely the opposite effect and cause stress, anxiety, embarrassment or discomfort.
As a learning professional I believe we have huge lessons to learn about service and experience design. The examples above outline some of the opportunities and pitfalls that await us and our customers as we evolve our learning experiences and services. Far too often learning professionals and the systems they use blur the lines between frictionless, intuitive service and engaging experience. Think about your learning offer, are your services frictionless and experiences memorable for the right reasons?
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