Customer experience: Southern hospitality at its finest

July 14, 2011 | by Peggy Carlaw

I live in the happiest place in America. No, it's not Disneyland, it's San Luis Obispo, California. At times, it feels like I'm in a small southern town where no one honks, no one swears, and everyone is more than happy to stop and help you with directions.

The other day, one of my co-workers lost the keys to her car after jogging at a park after work. It was getting dark and she needed to get her car home. Sounds like the perfect scenario for a horror movie. The solution: call a tow truck. While she was waiting, the tow truck driver called to get her specific location. At the end of the conversation, he said "I know exactly where you are, I'm on my way, and I'll get you home safe and sound." Those last statements were all she needed to feel safe and secure. Calling a tow truck is not exactly what I would describe as a pleasant customer experience, but it truly was!

How do YOU create an excellent customer experience?

1. Make sure employees know they're part of a vision, not just a job.

We can take notes from Paul Clinton, founder and CEO of Everything Wine. He started a wine superstore with the vision of excellent customer service. He believes in empowering his staff to be wine experts. From cashiers to shelf stockers, all employees are trained on product knowledge, product location, and how to help a customer find the right product suited for their needs, as noted in Fast Company. When staff members are included in the overall vision of the company, they have the skills to provide a positive customer experience.

2. Set employees up for success

If you want your team to provide excellent customer service, you need to give them the tools to succeed. Christian Kar, owner of Espresso Connection, decided to shift his focus from marketing to employee training. According to an article on, he learned that providing training and ongoing coaching to his staff increased his revenue more than focusing his budget on marketing. Offer your team the training they need, so they can create the customer experience you want.

3. Foster good judgment and creative solutions

What can you offer your customers that will make their experience with your company a nudge above your competitors? Zane's Cycles knows the secret. Instead of charging customers for small bike add-ons, Zane's covers the cost. Chris Zane, founder of Zane's Cycles, believes in selling experiences. According to an article on, he installed a coffee bar where complimentary drinks are prepared for customers. Chris Zane believes no matter the business, your focus needs to be on "relationship-building and experience-selling." This unique solution puts their efforts in providing excellent customer service.

Take these tips and see how you can improve the experience you offer customers. Implement one tip at a time, and you will see that you too can create noteworthy customer service!

Topics: Customer Experience , Customer Service , Employee Training

Peggy Carlaw / Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies create a customer-focused culture and improve the customer experience while producing measurable business results.
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