Currently browsing: Brand Experience

Brand Experience

  • My Experience of Restaurants in Europe, Check Please!

    If you follow me on any of my social platforms you would have seen not too long ago I took a trip over to Europe for a little family time and research intermixed.

    I visited some of the best hotels and restaurants, Italy and Croatia had to offer. I had a goal in mind when making these visits,  and that was to observe the customer interaction of those around myself and my family. Then document our experiences.

    While Europeans are warm and inviting, they don’t like tourists (or they don’t have any customer experience training). I must admit that I am generalizing right now. However, the majority of my experiences speak to the fact that the servers at restaurants either lost their smile on their way to work or forgot how to smile all together!

    Other than the lack of smiles being a trend that I saw and experienced for myself, there was another trend that (at home) I hadn’t paid much attention to; who is given the check at the end of the meal when a male and female are dining together?

    Let me explain this further.

    The first few restaurants we visited, I noticed that our server would give my husband the check. He then passed it to me, and I then paid for it. But, I was not putting any thought into it.

    Until, one evening our family was walking down the picturesque alleyways of Venice searching for the right restaurant that would serve the best pizza, carbonara, and rose with an outside table for people watching.

    My kids hopped from restaurant to restaurant yelling “this one?!” of course one of them would disagree, and onto the next, we would go. Finally, we landed in a restaurant that suited everyone’s particularities, and we sat down. Our menus were passed out in the typical old fashioned ‘kids and ladies first’ fashion (Ela, Riley, Noah, me, then Marcel).

    Our order was taken in the same way; the waiter was looking to Marcel for the decisions in what wine we were going to order and confirmation that the order was correct. With all the logistics out of the way, we patiently waited for our food. Let me tell you that the food was fabulous! I mean, it’s Italy! How could it be anything but fabulous?

    The service, again, was decent (still no smiles), but what came next was my ah-ha moment!

    My husband and I were seated at each end of the table and the kids were between us (easier to control them this way!) As the waiter approached with the check I put my hand out, he looked at me, and continued to hand the check to my husband. At that moment, ALL check giving moments came flooding back. Without fail, every check drop has been directed at my husband. Now, I was on a mission!

    I had to find out why the waiters feel they must give the check to the man at the table, assuming the woman wouldn’t be paying.

    I talked my husband’s ear off the rest of the trip and at every restaurant going forward. I watched, each time, to see who the check would be dropped with. Without fail, each time, it was given to my husband. As I was on a mission, I started asked the waiter at each restaurant,

    “Why do you choose to give the man the check over the woman?”

    Some responses I got:

    “That’s the way it is; the man should pay.”
    “The man usually has the credit card.”
    “I assume women don’t pay for the meal.”
    “That’s the way I have been taught.”

    I must say I am ALWAYS the one who pays for dinner, and I genuinely believe it is not cool for anyone to assume that just because a man and a woman are dining together that it is the man’s responsibility to pay OR that the woman is not capable of treating her dinner partner. If it were two ladies or two gents dining the waiter would ask how the check will be settled (split, Dutch, one bill?). So, why is this not done when a man and a woman are dining together?

    This is another small example of the many ways that a woman’s influence gets overlooked. If she has a say in the restaurant, why wouldn’t she have the ability to pay for the meal or at least be treated like an equal?

    I challenge you.

    The next time you are out for dinner with the opposite sex, take notice who the check is automatically given to. If I were a betting woman, and after the experiences I have had, I would say, the man will be given that little black folder.

  • From People to Pets— The Patient Experience Matters

    Lately I have been making it a priority to write down all the experiences I have so I can remember the detail and use these stories to share with you! I found this day to be a unique experience as I was undergoing two patient experiences at the same time. One I was present for and one that I had to check in on.

    I travel a lot and it’s a rare occasion I am home with some ‘free’ time.  During one of these far and few between times, my grandpa was going in for eye surgery.  Additionally, my grandmother had been experiencing some severe pain in her hip which she needed to see a doctor for. Unfortunately, her appointment was on the same day as my grandfather’s surgery. My grandpa had help but my grandmother needed a ride into the city for her appointment so I volunteered to take her.

    In order for me to do this I had to shuffle my dog’s vet appointment around which couldn’t be changed at the last-minute and if I didn’t get him there then he would miss his four-month shot. It all worked out in the end as I magically realized that Uber existed (how I didn’t think of this before is beyond me–lol) and that meant my nanny could take my dog to the vet!

    My grandma is 93 years old. She is still active and if it wasn’t for this ‘darn hip’ (as she likes to put it) she is in perfect health. We arrived at the hospital, walked to the reception area where we needed to register her for her appointment.

    We were met by a stone cold faced woman who didn’t even look up from her computer. She asked (in the most monotone voice I have ever heard) for my grandmother’s health card. And when my grandmother had trouble getting the card out of her wallet the lady looked up with a huff and rolled her eyes. My grandma (who is the most pleasant woman you would ever meet) met her eyes and smiled; the woman behind the desk remained stone cold. She proceeded to tell us to ‘sit over there’ and pointed to a row of chairs.

    We sat and waited, and waited some more. About 45 minutes later someone called “Mrs. Bates” from a doorway around the corner. As I was helping my grandma up the young man called her name again this time with an impatient undertone to his voice. We were not greeted or smiled at; instead we were walked to a secondary waiting room.

    We finally went in for her visit with the doctor which was a better experience than what we had just gone through but it stopped there. My grandmother needed to get some blood work done to rule out infection and we had to go back to the reception to order a MRI and Bone Scan. As you can imagine this would be overwhelming for a 93-year-old and I could tell it was effecting my grandma. When we got to reception a different stone cold woman abruptly told us to complete the form for the MRI request (which we didn’t know we needed to do) and with no offer of assistance she turned us away. I went back and forth with questions as I completed the form. When we were done and the forms had been faxed we were told to go to the fifth floor for the blood work and so we did. We took the first elevator we saw up to the fifth floor where it was clear that we were in the wrong place. Back down we went, clarified which elevator to take and headed on our way. The experience continued in this manor until the blood work was complete and we exited the building.

    As I walked back to the car with my grandma I started to imagine how these visits go when my 82-year-old grandfather brings her.

    I feel very passionate about the patient experience. People are often in their most vulnerable state at a doctors office and there is rarely an attempt to show compassion, make patients feel comfortable. The medical system often treats patients like a transaction! These experiences need to go from transaction to an interaction, and heck maybe even a pleasant experience.  The entire experience with my grandmother could have been completed flipped around by a few simple actions:

     

    1. Smiling:

    A smile is contagious, when a patient is visiting your facility greet them with a smile, smile throughout the interaction meeting your eyes with theirs when you are talking with them.

    1. Use the patient’s name:

    To that person, their name is the sweetest word in the human language which instantly connects them to you and your practice. A rule of thumb in hospitality (which should be adopted in the medical industry) is as soon as you have the guest’s name you must use it. For example, when a patient checks in for an appointment the receptionist is given their name! How hard is it to say “Good morning Mrs. Bates, may I please have your health card?”. Patient’s don’t expect you to remember their name or magically know it before they give it to you but when you do receive this knowledge it is your duty to use it. Patient’s will feel much more at ease. The use of their name will quickly decrease patient’s nerves making the interaction personalized and more genuine.

    1. Anticipate the patient’s needs:

    For example, the receptionist knew that the fifth floor for blood work was difficult to find (she probably gets the same question a 100 times a day) she could make the patient’s experience much smoother by anticipating their needs and showing them which elevator they need to take to get to the fifth floor. There are so many ways to anticipate a patient’s needs; patients will tell you what they need if you are listening. If you are interacting with patients pay attention to the golden nuggets patients give you then use this information to anticipate their needs.

    1. Ask if there is anything else you can do for them:

    Nine times out of ten the patient will say “I am ok, thank you”. But there may be that one time you can step up and be a hero by asking this question and giving the patient a voice. Simply asking this question tells the patient you care about their needs. This is always a great lasting impression as well.

     

    Phew, ok from one terrible experience to an AWESOME one! On the flip side my puppy had his vet visit where the experience made the opposite impression on me.

    When I got home after dropping my grandma off I received the nicest follow up email from my Vet. This is what it said:

     

    “Hi Katie and Marcel,

    I just saw Shadow with the whole gang and he’s looking great. I found nothing of any concern on physical exam. I was told that he’s not eating as much as before, but we had been using liver treats over top of the food in the past. In my opinion his weight is perfect, but if he’s always turning his nose up, then just switching foods is a good first step. I wrote a small list of good brands – which included royal canin, performatrin, and nutro. At this stage always selecting a puppy food WITH grains is important. There have been recent reports from the FDA about heart disease in dogs who are on grain free foods – so best to avoid.

     

    Please write or call back if you had any questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Spencer Burley”

     

    I wasn’t even there and I could feel how much he cared about shadow and my family. Then my kids confirmed this feeling by telling me how great the visit was. They got stickers, had fun weighing Shadow (our dog) and they even got to pet Blue the vet cat!

    Even though I wasn’t there physically the care Dr. Burley took after the visit to inform me of how it went increased my trust in him and the clinic. I could also see the smiles on my kids’ faces and the wagging of Shadow’s tail when I got home!

    It doesn’t take a lot to leave a lasting impression both positive or negative. You just have to ask yourself which one you are leaving with your patients.

     

  • What You Can Learn from an Uber Driver

    I arrived into Denver at 7:30am and headed straight to meet with my client. I was feeling awfully tired as I had been up since 4:00am and the night before my daughter was up all night; two nights with very little sleep. The Uber ride to the office was nothing to write home about but it did get me to where I needed to go. I arrived at the office and was greeted by big smiles and hugs which instantly lifted my (tired) spirits! The strategy meeting was fantastic and the team cocktail afterward was fun! I got into a Lyft this time to go to my hotel and again, the experience average at best.

    I checked in, had to moved rooms, and finally at around 7:00pm went to dinner. By this time, I was practically falling asleep at the restaurant table. The servers seemed to be annoyed with each question I asked and there was a lack of friendly and attentive hospitality. After a bowl of soup and a beet salad I went to bed.

    My alarm went off at 6:00am. My flight home (from this quick trip to Denver) was at 8:30am. My expectation of my Uber driver; not very high (as all the previous drivers helped set a low expectation).

    I was greeted by my Uber driver right on time. He got out of the car and checked if I was me by saying “good morning Katie” (not the regular cold call of my name ‘Katie’?). I confirmed it was indeed me who ordered the Uber and he helped me put my luggage in the trunk. I got in the car which was very clean and smelled great which showed he truly cared about the environment he presented his customers. Before he left the hotel he asked if I was ok or if I needed anything I responded “Thank you, I am ok” and off we went.

    We drove for a few minutes and stopped at a stop light. When we stopped, he turned around with a smile and said “this is your treat!” and handed me a pack of gum. Then he continued to say “keep it with you, use it when you need it”. His smile was so big a welcoming; his words sincere and genuine. At that moment, I was more than satisfied with this Uber experience.

    But wait! It gets better!

    As we continued on our route to the airport my daughter called to say good morning. He graciously turned the music down and when I hung up he asked “how many kids do you have?”

    I responded “three” and with a smile I could not see but I could hear he said “I will give you a treat for each of your kids!”

    We continued to talk and I found out he has twins that were born on August 4 who were 13 years old (my twins are born on August 2!). He talked about his family with joy and told me how his daughter is the boss of his three boys.

    When we arrived at the airport he turned around and handed me four different treats (one for my husband as well) from his treat bag that sat on this front seat and said “you don’t want them wondering where their surprise is!”

    He got out of the car and wished me safe travels as he handed me my luggage.

    As soon as I got to the airport I pulled out my laptop and started typing; this story was worth sharing.

    Let’s wrap up this awesome experience with a few learnings for you! My Uber driver flawlessly executed a ’five-star’ experience by:

    1. Providing a genuine and personalized greeting: “Good morning Katie!”
    2. Anticipated my needs when my daughter called by turning down the music
    3. Connected with me by asking questions and engaging in genuine conversation
    4. Delivering a +1 when he surprised and delighted me not once, but twice!
    5. And finally, he never stopped smiling. This was the icing on the cake; I felt welcomed and important

    In my experience, organizations can overthink what makes a ‘five-star’ customer experience a reality. The truth is this; providing a ‘five-star’ experience is about being a nice person. When you’re genuinely gracious, thoughtful and caring the experience happens naturally!

    My Uber driver earned his ‘five-stars’ today!

  • Connecting the Dots

    Phycologists say that humans rarely take on new behaviors past the age of 16 unless they experience a significant emotional event.

    Traditional training in a classroom, didactical lectures, or even e-training does not provide learners with a high enough emotional impact; leading the knowledge learnt through training that comes and goes like the tide of the ocean.

    One of my favorite sayings I use ALL the time during my training sessions is “I know Monday will come” meaning we will go back to routine, step onto our preverbal hamster wheel and not change a thing. We keep doing what we’ve always done; leaning into what our parents, teachers, leaders and other role models in our youth have taught us to do. However I have figured out that there is a way to awaken our senses and provide experiential training that has an emotional impact!

    If you want your team to action what they are learning then flip your training right side up and have them experience what it is they are supposed to be learning or delivering.

    Connecting the dots

    I had finished a keynote on ‘How to Deliver a Five Start Experience’ at a spa and esthetics conference where I chose to capitalize on the fact that my entire team was in one room! We are a remote company which makes meaningful training extremely difficult. With excitement, I decide to ‘carpe memento’ and I rounded them up when the room had emptied and said to them “if you’re going to train on how to deliver a five star experience you need to experience what five star is!” and off we went to visit one of them most iconic hotels known for its five-star experience; Ritz Carlton. As a bonus, I had a client present, so I brought them along for the experience!!

    We ate at the restaurant within the Ritz and as the meal and service progressed I would ask the team what they saw, felt, and observed. It was magical to see my team and client connect the dots of theory into practice. We focused on all the details it truly takes to deliver an experience that is thoughtful, seamless, and memorable. I watched their eyes light up every time they knew they noticed a little detail that made a BIG difference!

    One particular moment comes to mind from that night. Everyone who knows me knows that I love a glass of rose at the end of a long day. Naturally I proceeded to shift through the wine list for a dry rose. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a rose by the glass on the menu. Our server that night didn’t miss a beat. In true Ritz Carlton fashion when I asked if they had a dry rose by the glass she said absolutely and proceeded to tell me the options. I asked her to try a certain one and she said of course. Here’s the thing- she could’ve stopped there and just given me the option I requested. Instead she listened to the description of what I was looking for and when she returned to give me the taste of rose had requested she also brought a bottle of Whispering Angel (my fav!!!). With excitement and passion, she presented the bottle of Whispering Angel and said “I went looking to see if we had anything else I could offer you that would suit your palate and I found a bottle of Whispering Angel! It is dry and crisp and really fits with what you were looking for, would you like a glass of this?” and of course I said yes!

    My team and client were watching the whole interaction, and once the server left they got so excited for me! They pointed out everything she did and in that moment, saw the difference in experience that a five-star experience provides. Turning everything they have ever learnt into reality. But what was even more impactful was the emotion of excitement they felt while they observed and listened.

    The Difference

    Not only did they experience the difference, they described the difference. They walked away with stories to tell which sparked an emotional event and in turn has them living and teaching the theory they’ve been taught.

    I do this during my workshops and trainings as well! I was recently with a group for a two-day workshop. Day one was focused on the theory behind cultivating a five-star experience and day two was focused on experiencing and building a five-star experience. I had part of the team shop their locations and the other shopped competitors. This really opened up their minds and helped them to see the ‘theory’ in action. The result was amazing! The team was engaged, energized, and excited to make their experience the best in the retail industry!

    I am not the only one doing this, however there are a select few that do. Surprise, Ritz Carlton is in that prestigious group. How can they expect their teams at all levels around the world deliver a world class experience if they don’t know what it is? Each employee has the opportunity to stay one weekend at a Ritz Carlton with their family so they can feel what it’s like to experience “Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen”. Pure brilliance!

    Look outside your industry

    Send your teams to restaurants, hotels, spas, coffee shops, retail shops, and really any company that provides an experience that you feel you want to provide. During their experience ask the them to document the following areas:
    • The company
    • Detailed description of the experience
    • What they did that blew them away
    • How they felt, and
    • What best practice can be actioned with your organization

    Empowering your team members to experience what you preach and giving them the opportunity to be part of designing the ever evolving experience your company provides will have them feeling invested. But most importantly they will feel an emotional shift; which is the only way to get them to do differently.

    There are so many ways to deliver experiential training, but if you’re not doing it then you’re missing out. Because Monday will come and your team will not experience that emotional event which connects the dots between your expectation and their delivery. They will continue to do as they always do.

  • The Female Car Buying Experience: Journey Through Her Eyes

    Why does it matter; why should you tailor the brand experience to the Decision Maker; the woman?

    Besides the fact that women are the original social media, sharing their stories of outstanding experiences and happenings in life with just about anyone that will listen, they have now been given a platform to spread their message far and wide, and the whole world is listening. On the opposite end of exceptional experiences an inconsistent and disjointed experience (which is what most women receive when shopping for a vehicle); women will share these stories with the same passion as they do the good ones.

    Women are also the Chief Purchasing Officer in their home and are the number one referral source. Carl Sewell, the author of Customers for Life, states that the lifetime value of a customer equates to $517,000. By not curating an experience for the female buyer not only are you losing her lifetime value, but you are also losing the potential of her referral network, and with the social platform she is handed; Ms. Social will let the world know her opinions on a massive scale.

    Let’s face it; although we would like to have seen a more significant shift in gender equality through the years, there hasn’t been a huge leap forward. 85% of the world’s executives are still men, and in the car industry, men hold over 80% of the positions within dealerships. This means that the car shopping experience is still designed by men, for men, and delivered by men. The urgency to flip the lens, put ourselves in the shoes of the world’s most influential consumers and create standards that help sales associates create an experience that lives up to her expectations is even more prevalent as women will walk away and choose another dealer to purchase from.

    Want to know why it’s important to focus on her experience? The female consumer has a direct impact on your top line and future success!

    Here are five tips to tailor your brand experience to the Decision Maker; The Woman.

    1. Understand the Decision Maker.

    It’s important to remember when creating a Consumer Persona for the female consumer that she wants to be understood first as a woman and second as a consumer. Flip the lens, understand your consumer’s life stages in order to tailor and personalize the experience you offer.

    2. Journey through her eyes.

    Once you have a 30,000-foot view of the female consumers that shop with you it’s time to break down the journey from her perspective. Perception is the customer’s reality. When designing a program for the female consumer (or any consumer or employee), it is imperative that the experience is designed from their point of you. The golden rule that grandma preached; treat others the way you want to be treated is a thing of the past. You must live by the platinum rule; treat others the way they need or want to be treated.

    3. Create real relationships.

    One of the most significant differences between male and female consumers is that women WANT to create a relationship with the sales associate; whereas men could go either way. In a recent study I lead, 69% of the female participants said that the sales associate didn’t take time to get to know her, the same 69% also said that they didn’t trust the sales associate. Women crave connection. Her decisions are driven by the way she feels about you, your brand and the experience you provide.

    4. Train for EQ.

    If a team member has high EQ, they will be able to execute tip 2 & 3, without this creating a real relationship and a tailored experience becomes very tough. It’s important to have the skills and knowledge to do the job; however, we can train most of these skills. One of the top reasons women walk out of dealerships is because they don’t like the way they were approached or treated. Those with high EQ can read people’s nonverbal cues and can adjust their approach based on the needs of each consumer.

    5. Be consistent.

    As I have mentioned, building a trust account with your female consumer base is extremely important when it comes to her desire to purchase a vehicle and refer you. Consistency is a key factor in the trust she has in you.

    Each one of these tips will help to create an experience that will promote a female-friendly environment and increase the number of females shopping in your dealership, which untimely will increase your CSI results on all fronts.

  • Lack of Constancy Kills Trust 

    I had just arrived home from speaking at a conference, and had a 24 hour turn around before I needed to get back on another plane to coach 200+ leaders. As a frequent guest on Air Canada air crafts, I experience jet lag on a regular basis. However, this instance was a particularly intense case (given the 10 flights I had taken within the last 15 days). I went to check in to my flight to San Juan and was offered an upgrade to business class for a small fee. Feeling tired and wanting to be pampered on my 5+ hour flight, I opted in to the upgrade. I entered all the appropriate information only to get a message stating that the upgrade was no longer available. Disappointed (and knowing that technology isn’t always reliable) I exited out of the Air Canada App and tried again; no bueno. Same message.

    I was running around trying to complete some errands before my Saturday morning flight, and didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this. I did however want comfort, so I called customer service.

    The Call for Help

    I called into the elite customer service line, which had a 22 minute wait time; I opted to be called back. Once I got the call back, the young man on the other end asked how he could help. I proceeded to tell him my situation and without a pause he said he could not help me. Just like that- there is nothing I can do for you. “Try again” he said “maybe on a computer this time,” and with that, the conversation was over. 

    So I tried again. No success. You can imagine how frustrated I felt at this point. I couldn’t give them my money and all I wanted was some help.

    The Bad Outweighs the Good

    It is said that it takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one negative interaction. From a customer stand point, each time there is a service failure you have to work 12x harder to make up for it. Let’s count how many negative interactions I had in this one instance with Air Canada technology and personnel: two tries on a faulty app, a phone call with no help, care, or compassion, and another 5 attempts on my computer. That is a total of 8 negative interactions with this brand in one afternoon.  At this point my trust account with Air Canada was in the negative. 

    When you are in service recovery mode, it is so important that you make it right the first time to regain the trust of your customer. 

    Unfortunately technology doesn’t always work, yet it replaces the need for human interference and correction. Is your team prepared to help when technology fails?

    A Second Call

    Now I was angry, so I did what any other customer would do; call the customer service line again thinking there must be a way to make the upgrade on their end. 

    Another 25 minute wait, and I finally got in touch with a lovely customer service representative. She was delightful and very helpful. She listened, said she was sorry, and worked every back-end possibility to help me. Finally, I had success! She was able to secure my upgrade, charge me, and email the confirmation all in a friendly and genuine manner. 

    When I hung up the phone I couldn’t help but ask myself; why couldn’t the first customer service representative do that for me? He would’ve saved me hours of frustration and kept my trust with the brand intact. 

    Lessons to Learn from this Story 

    As a customer experience expert in designing and training CX programs, the answer came quite quickly to me; there is a lack of consistency in the hiring, training, and delivery of their service recovery program. Here are a few take-a-ways that will help you increase your customer’s trust in your brand.

    1. Develop a Service Recovery System

    Service Recovery is an integral part of the guest’s experience; how we handle a service failure is equally as important as delivering your brand standards. Service Recovery is a thought-out, well planned process that returns dissatisfied customers to a state of satisfaction and trust with your brand.  Your service Recovery System should also be an experience just as your primary brand standards are. The goal: to have your customers be delighted with the memory of the fix; so much so that they can’t even remember the problem.

    2. Train for Consistency

    Consistency will set you apart from your competition. On the flip side, inconsistency can kill the trust your customers have with your brand. Keeping in mind that it takes 12 positive interactions to make up for one negative interaction, it is in your company’s best interest to ensure consistency in the delivery of your brand standards and service recovery system. Had Air Canada’s first customer service representative done what the second one did for me I would have been delighted, and trust would have remained intact. We live in a fast paced world filled with inconsistency; to keep your customer’s trust and loyalty, you must give them what the rest of the world doesn’t. You need to be reliable and consistent. 

    3. Follow up

    If you want to show you care and truly wow your customers, follow up with them to ensure they are satisfied and thank them for their loyalty. Showing you care goes a long way in restoring a customer’s trust and faith in your brand, yet it is a step in the customer service recovery journey that is most often overlooked. 

    If you want to keep your customer’s trust after a service failure, then you must develop a service recovery system that your people will have no problem consistently delivering; every customer, every time. 

  • Experiential Branding Matters Because “She” is the Influencer

    Do you remember the first time you fell in love?

    I remember the first time I fell in love. I was 15 years old and was head over heels for my hockey player boyfriend. Right before I would meet him, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, my sweaty palms, the goosebumps on my arms, when I felt the excitement walk around the corner of our high school hallway.

    Do you remember similar feelings of falling in love for the first time? Because if you do, then you understand the way your customers feel when they fall in love with your brand!

    The chemical reactions that happen inside you when falling in love are the same chemical reactions women have while shopping. It’s simple; it’s science!

    Love with brand

    Let me lead you through the journey to falling in love…

    As a women-centric business, you want women to fall in love with your brand and emotionally attach themselves to your brand.

    There are three chemicals that are released inside a woman’s body when she is shopping:

    1. Dopamine
    2. Serotonin
    3. Oxytocin

    Well, for those who don’t know, these are the same chemicals released when you fall for someone!

    1. Dopamine

    According to Harvard University, dopamine is a chemical produced by our brain that plays a starring role in motivating behavior. It gets released when we take a bite of delicious food, when we have sex, after we exercise, and, importantly, when we have successful social interactions. In an evolutionary context, it rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them.

    When your experience focuses on the interaction a female consumer has with you, Dopamine is released. This chemical release leads to her desire to repeat these repetitive interactions with your brand. Shopping is, indeed, addictive!

    2. Serotonin

    dna1

    Serotonin is also known as the “happiness chemical”, which plays a role in how a person feels about things. Creating an experience that stimulates happy feelings will, in turn, stimulate the release of Serotonin. The goal here is to send a woman on a journey filled with positive stimuli. This way she feels happy throughout her experience with your brand.

    3. Oxytocin

    Oxytocin (the bonding hormone) is released the same way while shopping as it does when falling in love. This hormone affects women more rigorously. Women want to connect with your brand and when you take the experience you offer to one step further and create a relationship with your consumers, you are entering a bonding zone. Once she has bonded with your brand, she is bound to be fiercely loyal.

    Why do you want the decision maker (she) to fall in love with your brand?

    Consumer Brand ExperienceSo why should you take out time to tailor your Consumer Brand Experience for female consumers?

    Women are the Chief Purchasing Officers for their households and the most influential consumers in the world. According to Inclusionary Leadership Group,

    Women influence 83% of all consumer spending in the United States, which is worth $7 trillion annually.

    Not only do they hold the veto vote on the majority of purchasing decisions, but also can be your number one referral source!

    Most businesses don’t take this customer segment seriously and do not invest in enough resources to tailor the experience a woman receives when doing business with them.

    Further, according to author Bridget Brennen, men make up 85% of the executives of the world! This gap between who buys and who designs the customer experience is enormous. The brand experience is ultimately created by men who are physiologically different from women.

    It’s about the chase!

    I am going to let you in on a little secret; it’s not about the product she buys. What matters is the journey she takes when she interacts with your brand. It is the chase she enjoys!

    journey trough the brand

    It is about the little moments when she connects with your brand and creates a relationship with you that dictates whether or not she’ll choose to do business with you again.

    Much like the notation of ‘Retail Therapy’, women tend to go out when they are having a bad day or feeling down for some retail therapy. I know this is something that is made fun of in movies and books, but there is some truth to it.

    Women feel better when they journey through a mall, they get little hits of dopamine and release of serotonin; turning their not so great day into a better one (until she gets her credit card bill that is!)

    Brands can learn from this habit of retail therapy. She will have hits of dopamine and serotonin and if you do a really good job, she will start to create a bond with your brand. Examining the journey your female consumer takes with your brand and tweaking it to include all the little moments that make her fall in love with your product or service is in your best interest!

    How women’s buying behavior is different from those of men?

    There are behavioral differences between men and women and their expectations from interacting with the brand. These differences can be scientifically linked to the physiological differences between men and women.

    Both the genders are different and it’s up to you to identify how to tailor an experience that works for both men and women. In my experience, if you build a brand experience, keeping women in mind, men should be ok with it. However, if you build an experience for the male customer, the female consumer will not like it in the slightest. I always urge my clients to build their experience with the woman in mind.

    Research shows the size of a female’s limbic brain (the part of the brain that controls emotions and memory) is double the size of a man’s brain.

    women's buying behavior

    We don’t make decisions based on logic; rather, we make decisions based on our feelings. Drawing physiological differences between men and women are important. Women need to feel good about interacting with your brand.

    Conversations are the glue that binds women from an early age and women are master communicators. They use both sides of their brain to communicate while men only use one. Women want a relationship with your brand and she needs to be able to communicate how she’s feeling and what she wants and expects from your brand.

    Letting the female consumer communicate with your brand goes a long way to creating an experience that she enjoys having. So you should utilize every opportunity to communicate with her over multiple channels; be it social media, live chat, help desk or surveys.

    Three tips to make the Decision Maker fall in love with your brand/business.

    Here are three tips you can implement to help nudge her down the path of falling in love with your brand:

    1. Understand the decision maker

    The female consumer wants to be understood as a woman first and a consumer second.Typical age/sex and other demographics aren’t adequate for segmenting and creating a consumer persona. You’ll need to break your female consumers into life stages; the ’40s are the new ’30s and the ’30s are the new ’20s; women are getting married later in life and having kids in their late ’40s.

    Once you have your female customer broken down into life stages, you will want to define the goals she has and the challenges she faces at each life stage. You will now be able to determine how your brand and its services can help her fulfill her dreams and resolve the challenges.

    2. Journey through her eyes

    tips to make the Decision Maker fall in love with brand

    We experience approximately 20,000 moments in a day and we determine whether we’ve had a good or bad day based on the number of positive, neutral, and negative moments we have. Our brain then sidelines neutral moments ( as they leave no impact) and we hold on to the good or bad.

    If your customers have had more bad moments before they interact with your brand you can almost guarantee their day is already off to a “bad start”. Don’t you want to be the highlight of their day? Be the reason their day goes from “bad” to “good” or “good to great”?

    The only way to ensure this is to provide the decision maker with an experience that speaks to her; you need to see from her viewpoint and develop the experience from that point of view.

    For example, women will pay 32% more in a hedonic atmosphere. Ask your female employees, what experience they look for and use that to start journeying through her eyes; to design an experience that she can fall in love with.

    3. Create Real Relationships

    Relationships are very real and important to the female consumer. This is when oxytocin is released; through a connection. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, and it feels good for the female consumer to create relationships that lead to trust, relationship, and loyalty.Remember she holds purchasing influence for 3-4 generations in her household, most of who are your future customers. If you fail to establish a relationship with her, you will have access to no customers.

    The Bottom Line

    No matter what you do, be consistent. The female consumer wants to know she can rely on you and you are a trusted friend (or loved one☺). Build up your trust account with your female consumer through consistency in the experience you provide her. And if all else fails, remember what it was like to fall in love, you already know how you need to make her feel. Your goal is to help her fall in love with your brand. If she does, she’ll be a brand loyal for life and her friends and family follows.

  • Five Tips to Providing a Five Star Experience

    The best way I can describe ‘customer service’ is by using the word transaction. ‘Service’ is what we do, it is a product or the transaction to receive the product. According to dictionary.com an experience is:

    “a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something: or the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time.”

    In other words, an experience is an interaction between a business and a customer that happens while the customer journeys through your business.

    So, What is a Five-Star Experience?

    A five-star experience is often noted as ‘luxurious’ or ‘expensive,’ maybe even unattainable to most organizations. In actuality, a five-star experience has nothing to do with cost or luxury at all. A five-star experience can be achieved in any organization regardless of the industry, but requires your people to be…well, nice people! It requires the use of emotional intelligence and very little investment, essentially turning the transactional service currently being provided into an interactional experience that customers will enjoy and remember. 

    Here are five tips to create a five-star experience!

    1.  Use a Friendly Tone of Voice 

    We’ve all heard the adage ‘It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,’ right? This couldn’t be more important or true when it comes to the customer’s experience. How we verbally send a message will dictate how the customer receives the message. When interacting with customers, it is very important to watch the tone of your voice. This is especially important when conversing with a customer on the phone. They can’t see your expressions, but they can hear if you are smiling or not. Practice roleplaying with your team, give them a scenario, and focus on the tone of their voice. 

    2.  Use Their Name

    “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnage.

    Using a customer’s name not only shows respect, but is the most important word you can use to create a connection with your customer. You’ll read a lot about using the customer’s name in articles written about how to provide a personalized experience. Often it is the hardest for employees to execute. Here’s the thing, the customer doesn’t expect you to somehow magically know their name. They do, however, expect you to use it as soon as you get it, and once you know it, use it often. 

    3.  Show Genuine Interest 

    We make decisions out of the ‘feelings we have’ not the facts and figures that are presented to us. Humans crave connection and will stop doing business with you if 1. No one attempts to make a connection and 2. If a person is disingenuous when trying to make a connection. Customers want you to authentically engage and show interest in them. The 80/20 rule applies here. Let the customer talk 80% of the time because you have spent 20% of the time with them asking questions and showing genuine interest. Doing this will only set you up for success, as you will now be able to anticipate their needs. 

    4.  Be Anticipatory 

    A customer doesn’t want to have to work hard to get their needs met when undergoing an experience. It is your job to anticipate the needs of your customers and know what they want or need before they tell you. Paying attention to what they say and remembering their preferences will help your team anticipate your customer’s needs.

    5.  Be Knowledgeable 

    Last, but not least, you must be the expert in what you do and the product you provide your customers. I’m not talking about knowing the bare minimum about your product or service, but to know more than what the customer knows about your product or service. When providing a five-star experience, you must know more than what is printed on marketing material, your website, or social channels. The customer has already looked at all those avenues and has decided to do business with you! When they walk through your doors and ask a question, they want to hear what they haven’t already read or heard about already. Becoming an expert and matching your knowledge to the needs of your customer will go a long way in establishing creditability and trust. 

    A five-star experience can be achieved in any organization regardless of the industry, but requires your people to be genuine, anticipatory, knowledgable, and friendly. Transforming your mind set (and that of your team) from customer ‘service’ to customer ‘experience’ will also aide in the execution of these insights, and take your customer experience to the next level.

  • A Purpose Driven Culture

    I had the honour of attending the Celebrity Edge Naming Ceremony and Global Conference this past week. It was an overwhelming wave of emotions spread out over an eight-day period. There was one common theme that was weaved throughout the entire experience, and that was the sheer purpose, passion, and pride that each individual had for this company. As I sat in the audience on the last day of the conference while the President and CEO gave her closing remarks, tears of pride flowed down my cheeks. Pride toward being part of an organization that stands for so much more than great results. Pride toward the gratitude she had for every single person that contributes to their success, and pride toward her belief that extraordinary people can achieve extraordinary things; making the impossible possible. 

    Purpose, Passion, and Pride 

    I have read many great business books that try to describe the difference between good companies and extraordinary companies; all of which describe how organizations like Amazon, Apple, and Zappos deliver exceptional experiences and results for their employees, customers, and shareholders. This past week gave me a first-hand experience of an organization that not only yields great results, but one that has depth, inspiration and a culture unlike any other. 

    In the moments I got to watch, listen, and speak on stage, it dawned on me that it is the purpose of an organization that creates one common goal. It is the Passion of its people that unites each individual employee into one team, and it is the pride of this team that propels them to do what needs to be done to garner success. 

    A Purpose Driven Culture

    If you have set out to achieve extraordinary results, then you will want to reflect on the culture of your organization. Ask yourself; Do you have a clearly defined purpose? Are your people passionate about your purpose? And does your team live your purpose with pride? Below is why each one of these areas are so important in developing a culture that is unified around one goal, and a team that works as one to achieve these goals.

    Purpose

    Why a company does what it does is far more important than the results it yields. It is the purpose that drives these results and the people’s belief in the organization. A strong purpose allows an organization to go beyond typical success; it is the path of significance. If you want your organization to leave a mark on this world, then drive your decisions through your purpose. Having an unwavering purpose not only takes a company down a path to significance, it’s a single focus for all employees to rally around and be passionate about. It is your purpose that will draw in the right employees that will work harder for you, that will promote you and be brand evangelists. A company’s purpose creates a common goal that all team members will work to achieve. 

    Passion

    An unnerving passion to drive the purpose of the company creates a unified team. I have always said, a leader without followers is just someone taking a walk; a company without purpose and passion will struggle to create followers and achieve significance or even success. Hire those that are passionate about why you do what you do. Influence and inspire them to drive your purpose and create one team that is focused on one goal. Passion is the fire that ignites your company’s purpose. Do you have passionate people willing to walk behind you?

    Pride

    Being part of something bigger than yourself is an exhilarating feeling. Being part of a team that is working together to achieve a purpose causes an individual to be proud of what they are contributing to. Pride for what they do and who they do it for is the start of creating brand evangelists. When a team is proud of the results they achieve for a company that embodies a common purpose, they tend to work harder, longer, and more purposefully. It is the pride someone has for their work that turns a team into a family, and a culture like that is unstoppable. Are your team members proud to work for you or your organization? Do you have brand evangelists?

    One Goal, One Team

    If you want to achieve extraordinary results, then you must build a culture driven by purpose, passion, and pride. 

    As those tears streamed down my face, I realized just how lucky I was to be part of an organization that is driven by purpose first, cultivates passion within the hearts of its people, and nurtures a sense of pride in everything they do.  If you want to set out to make the impossible possible, start with a Purpose Driven Culture.

  • When It’s Not Your Fault, But You Fix It Anyway; A Woman’s Point Of View

    Raise your hands or nod your head if you have ever gone into a brick and mortar store with your kids and they decided to run around, talk loudly (or yell), and climb things they shouldn’t (insert emoji with hand raised here). It can be (and often is) frustrating and embarrassing. This was precisely what happened to me as we entered Home Sense last Monday.

    It was a hot and humid Monday evening. The last week of summer break and the week before my sister’s wedding. Our house is the house that plays host to almost every family gathering and the night before my sister’s wedding was not an exception. As usual, I took on more than I could chew but loved every minute of it as there is nothing more important than the love and time spent with family.

    Because we were hosting 40 people at our house, it was also time to get my butt into gear and finish decorating our newly renovated main floor. The Monday before the party I dragged my poor little girls all over the city to find just the right nick knacks for our living room and paintings for our walls. Women tend to do this frequently; take on more than they need to, to ensure the happiness of their family. That day I was not an exception to the rule.

    We were in and out of stores, and our last stop was Home Sense. As a woman, mom, wife, and Brand Experience Expert, with a female focus, I am very perceptive to the shopping experiences I have and how well they cater to the Decision Maker; the woman and all the little nuances she expects in a shopping experience. My last experience that day was the most trying and the best all at the same time.

    An Empowered Team

    My girls had had enough of in and out of stores and were kicking into boredom high gear. As soon as we entered the store, my girls bolted off and ran around as I popped in and out of the aisles in search for the perfect décor and paintings; playing a game of Marco Polo with my girls except is was “Ela, Riley” so I could hear that they were close to me. The experience was going smoothly until I heard Riley scream.

    There she lay face down on the floor; she had tripped. I put the five items that were in my arms down and rushed to her. Riley’s lip was bleeding, and she was crying hysterically. I felt embarrassed and so sorry that this happened to my sweet girl. Instantly (as most moms do) I started to beat myself up about the situation, and at that moment, something wonderfully unexpected happened; in swooped the Home Sense team.

    The manager came over and helped me in the bathroom. They helped calm Riley and gave her a freeze to keep the swelling down on her lip while making it fun for her. They also made sure Ela got the same ‘fun’ treatment. Once Riley was calm, they collected the items I had put down in a rush to my daughter and took me directly to the end register bypassing the big line. The team rang me in quickly and carried everything out to my car and through the whole process made me feel better (or not as bad) about the situation.

    This situation got me to thinking; are companies prepared to handle situations that are not their fault? Do they empower their team members to make it right? And do they take into consideration the customer in front of them?

    Although many organizations strive to have the basics of customer service down pat; like greeting, asking the customer if they need help, or using their name; not many organizations focus on how to create a great experience out of a bad situation. Further to that; do you know how to tailor your Brand Experience to the Decision Maker; the Woman?

    I challenge you to answer these questions:

    • Is your organization and its team prepared to handle situations that are not your fault? If so what tools do you provide them to empower them to offer an exceptional and unexpected experience out of a bad situation?
    • Are you prepared to serve your female consumers? Have you ever flipped the lens and seen the shopping journey through her eyes?
    • With women holding 80-90% influence of all purchasing decisions and doing the majority of the shopping for their homes, is your team trained in EQ so they can ensure the experience the decision maker has in your brick and mortar store leaves a positive lasting impression?

    If your answer is no to one or more of these questions you might want to look at the tools and training you give your team members so they can turn transactions into interactions and create a memorable experience; even out of a bad situation. I also urge you to take a female-focused approach as you make changes to elevate your customer experience.

    I thank the team at Home Sense that day. Not only did I get everything I needed, but they also earned my loyalty through an experience that I will be forever grateful. I know that I can take my kids there and they will take care of us.