How To Impress Clients With Valentine’s Day Special Treatments

Hopefully, you’re having a busy January with service and gift card sales for Valentine’s Day.  In our recent post with Valentine’s Day Sales Tips, we shared what you can be doing to grow Valentine’s Day sales.  You just need to remind the entire staff to put their best foot forward; be punctual, fully uniformed, and ready to assist with clients or inquiries at any time.

 

Valentine's Day Spa Sales Tips

What extra special treatments do you have planned for your spa clients?

It is likely that you will see some new clients for services over the weekend, especially if you’ve put in place holiday promotions, or you may have regular clients who bring a spouse or partner to enjoy a couple’s-oriented treatment.  Valentine’s Day is a good reason for clients to be thinking about their appearance, so beautifying treatments and services will be in order before a night out on the town.  Your staff should be aware of this potential and adjust their approach accordingly; for instance, if a woman comes in for a facial and makeup application before she heads out for the evening, she would likely appreciate not having her hairstyle ruined during the services.  If time allows, free ten-minute eye makeup touch-ups can introduce new clients to your makeup bar.  Some spas will even keep some long-stemmed roses at the desk, and present them to female guests at checkout.  Have your staff think about ways they can impress both new and returning clients with your high standards of customer care.

 

Depending on your location, you may attract some walk-in traffic for Valentine’s Day with attractive retail displays visible from the outside.  An array of price-points on your Valentine gift sets may bring in some new clients, and if they’re impressed with your selection, displays and knowledgeable sales staff they’ll be intrigued enough to return.  Needless to say, clean shelves and ample displays are a must through the weekend.

 

Gift card clients offer a double opportunity; both the purchaser and the recipient of the gift card are potential repeat guests.  If possible at the time of the sale, collect the pertinent information on the intended gift card recipients so that you can market to them later.  In order to get more mileage out of this dual purchase, some spas will offer the purchaser a voucher to use for a return visit of their own; $20 off a service valued at $60 or more, or a free upgrade on a weekday treatment.  Perhaps a red rose for the purchaser too?

 

No matter the reason the doors open over the next few days before Valentine’s Day, each person who enters should be greeted immediately and with genuine warmth and friendliness.  Of course, your well-trained staff is always aware of opportunities to make lasting connections with the guest, but it might not hurt to remind everyone to “show the love” especially in a month that can be on the slow side.

 

 

Valentine’s Day Treatments And Tips To Increase Spa Sales

You’ve just gotten the spa put back together from the winter holidays, and the next sales event, Valentine’s Day, is coming up fast.
Valentine’s is typically the smallest of the three big annual gift card events; December holidays lead the pack, followed by Mother’s Day, with the romance holiday third, but Valentine’s Day has some special things going for it. It is one of the occasions that lends itself to the booking of treatments during the holiday as well as the selling of gift cards, and it also appeals to both genders.
Valentine's Day Spa Tips

Add Valentine’s Day Treatments to your Menu

From the service booking standpoint, it’s easy enough to add a Valentine flair to your menu. In each of your service departments, select a treatment for which you have moderate demand and detailed protocols, and then tweak it by adding verbiage or swapping out steps, or both!
Ingredients such as strawberries, chocolate, champagne or roses, in some iteration, can be substituted for a component in the protocol. Words evoking love, romance, passion, companionship, or celebration can be worked into treatment descriptions, as appropriate.
Don’t forget to focus on treatments for couples, especially if you have at least one couples room. Create a Valentine menu insert with these newly created services and prices, and slip it into your regular menu. Of course, I’m sure I don’t need to mention to make sure that both technical and customer service staff have been advised of these changes/additions to the regular menu. Additionally, if you have special Valentine services, you will likely want to put a time limit on when they will be available; these are meant to be enjoyed during Valentine’s for a week or two. You don’t want to have someone show up in September asking to book one of these services, when you will likely have moved on and may not even have the products necessary in stock.

Boost sales and increase customer convenience with Valentine’s Day gift packages

Gift card sales do not generally kick into gear until the week of Valentines itself, starting the weekend before. Make sure you’ve got some Valentine-themed gift card packaging or presentation materials on hand, along with a supply of Valentine cards for those who are in need, saving them a trip to the Hallmark store. Place a selection of pre-wrapped retail packages near the checkout, including bath & body, candles & fragrance items.
A couple of days before Valentines itself, it wouldn’t hurt to have a selection of red roses available by the single stem, perhaps offering them to anyone who spends over a certain amount on a gift card.
More ideas? Contact us about our consulting services. We can help you design the perfect Valentine’s Day Sales Strategy.

Global Wellness Forecast

What is the forecast for Global Wellness?

You cannot open a magazine or see marketing messages today without being struck by the frequent use of the word “wellness.” It may seem like this word came out of nowhere, but in fact, the concept of wellness has existed for many years. In 1947, the World Health Organization defined wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Dr. Halbert Dunn further explored the concept of wellness in a series of lectures in the late 1950’s that became the basis for his book, “

Dr. Halbert Dunn further explored the concept of wellness in a series of lectures in the late 1950’s that became the basis for his book, “High Level Wellness” published in 1961. Dr. John Travis, inspired by Dunn’s book, opened the Wellness Resource Center in California in 1975, exploring the concept that individuals can actively participate in their health and well-being, rather than the traditional model of physicians treating patients only for illnesses. In 1979, Dr. Travis and his center were featured on the popular US TV show, Sixty Minutes, which brought the wellness concept into mainstream American consciousness. Dr. Travis was also a frequent collaborator with Dr. Don Ardell, who was also influenced by the Dunn book, and in 1977, published his own book, “High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs, and Disease”.

Definition of Wellness

Global Wellness Forecast

“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a healthy and fulfilling life.”

Today, the definition of wellness by the National Wellness Institute has evolved into this: “Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a healthy and fulfilling life.” This definition makes clear that wellness is not just something that happens to us; humans play a significant role in their own personal wellness through the choices that they make regarding diet, exercise, and lifestyle. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, Chinese consumers are the world’s most health conscious. The BCG survey revealed that 73% of Chinese consumers are willing to pay more for products that are considered healthier, which is 12 points higher than the global average.

Global Spa Summit

In 2007, SpaFinder CEO Susie Ellis created the inaugural Global Spa Summit, an invitation-only event in New York City, attracting 250 leaders in the worlds of spa, fitness, and hospitality, to establish a positive direction through friendly collaboration. By 2015, the event name was changed to become the Global Wellness Summit. At a recent Summit, in November 2015, almost 500 industry leaders gathered in Mexico City from all corners of the globe to participate in 3 days of keynote speeches, panel presentations, and breakout and networking sessions from well-known authorities including Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Ken Pelletiere, and author Agapi Stassinopoulos. The information presented is all available on the Global Wellness Summit website, and has become much more medical in nature, as advances are made in discovering ways we can positively impact our physical health through microbiomes and epigenetics.

One of the 2015 Summit speakers, French economist Thierry Malleret, predicted that the current trends in obesity and an aging global population will lead some nations to mandate wellness for their populations, as the costs of healthcare continue to rise. In an effort to lower healthcare costs, large multi-national companies are examining ways to make workplaces healthier, from better food choices to natural light and opportunities to move about during the day. This trend of Workplace Wellness is the subject of the forthcoming study sponsored by the Global Wellness Institute.

Wellness and Wearable Technology

Few items illustrate the interest consumers have in their own health better than wearable technology. Ranging from Misfits and FitBits to devices from Garmin, Apple, and Samsung, the wearable device market has exploded from sales of US $6million in 2010 to US$7Billion in 2015, with growth projected to continue. Some spas are enabling social media contests so that clients can compare their steps, sleep, diet and other statistics.

Spas Play an Important Role in Wellness

Despite the medical overtones in many wellness discussions, spas still have a very important role to play in the personal wellness of our clients. Having a massage or facial at a spa, and enjoying the relaxing environment, is often the introduction to the concept of self-care that ignites the desire in our clients to do more for themselves. The rejuvenated psyche and increase in energy that consumers experience after an invigorating workout or pampering spa break is not something that just happened to them, it is due to their personal action in making time to visit the spa or the health club. Our clients are in search of guides for this journey and look to their spa for ideas and encouragement. Spas that go beyond the basic facial and massage treatments, and provide important components, such as a dedicated relaxation space, highly trained staff, and high-quality home care products, are well-positioned to take advantage of the current surge in interest in personal wellness.

Want to grow your spa’s wellness program? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute needs assessment consultationwith Wynne Business.

 

A version of this post appeared first on SpaChina.com.

Spa Startups: They’re ba-aack!

The recession may have battered the spa industry and shut down many facilities, but we’re finally seeing a resurgence in startups–many of whom aren’t even using the “S” word (that would be “spa”) to describe themselves. “Wellness” is a watchword for many of these next-generation businesses, but other trends inspiring spa entrepreneurs include co-working and organic lifestyles.

Few would-be spa owners understand just how much capital they’ll need to invest to get their new spa up and running–and to nurture it through its first 18 months, the critical make-or-break period. The pressure from competition is usually underestimated in new spa business plans, and these businesses can crash quickly if spa entrepreneurs are over-optimistic and under-funded.

At the high end of the market, spa guests are seeking a new approach to luxury that’s based on authentic experiences rather than over-the-top opulence. That doesn’t always translate into a strong demand for esoteric services, though. The services that guests say that they are interested in and the ones that they actually purchase (especially on a regular basis) can be very different. Creating an appealing but unique menu is a must. It’s expensive to educate the marketplace.

Whether they’re in an urban setting or a remote one, one of the biggest impediments to new spas’ growth is finding enough talented therapists. A solid in-house training program is critical to success in every market. Not only does it improve therapist quality, it aids in employee retention: spa workers value education very highly. Lower employee turnover pays off big in customer satisfaction and pure bottom-line profit.

While there are still spas for sale–a great way to fast track a startup and reduce project cost–many of them are not listed with business brokers and identifying them can take a special approach. Sometimes a would-be spa developer is too deeply in love with their particular vision to recognize a fabulous opportunity in a distressed business. Differentiating a “distressed” business  from a “toxic” one is critical.

To help this wave of entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls of developing a spa or wellness business, a new one-day Spa Startup Workshop is being offered on Saturday, October 3, immediately prior to the Wynne Business Spa Director’s Management Intensive (October 4-6) in Philadelphia’s Historic District.

For more information about the seminars, visit our management seminars page or call 610.368.6660.

Tuition details, including earlybird and multiple registrant discounts.

 

 

 

6 Ways Spas Don’t Practice Workplace Wellness

This year’s Global Wellness Institute Summit in Mexico City will highlight Workplace Wellness as a key issue. Spas are all about wellness, right? We’re exemplars, right?

The reality is, a spa is a mentally and physically demanding environment that is built on the profit-challenged business model of selling services. Right there, you know that employee well-being may not be at the top of the list of priorities for spas. Here are six ways spas don’t walk their wellness talk:

1.  Spas who treat their workers as “independent contractors” instead of employees. Do you really espouse wellness when your therapists don’t qualify for worker’s compensation insurance if they get injured at your place of business? This is also one of the key reasons the playing field is not level in the spa industry: unfair competition from companies who misclassify their workers to save money.

2. Overworking your team. Whether your employees work at your front desk or in a treatment room, good people are hard to find. Many spas are burning out their A Players due to staffing challenges.

  • Watch out for estheticians who are super-skilled and in heavy demand with services like lash extensions or waxing, which involve a lot of repetitive motion. The same holds true for your deep-tissue massage aces. Make sure that their schedules have a variety of activities. Body treatments are a good way to add variety to the massage therapists’ schedule.
  • Set a limit of five massages per shift, even if the therapist wants to do more, while estheticians can perform up to seven facial treatments.
  • Provide the breaks required by law (and common sense)
  • I’m not a fan of the 50 minute “hour” as I think it contributes to injury and burnout, not to mention unrealistic expectations on the part of clients as to what can and should be accomplished in a treatment session. Provide 15 minutes’ breakdown/setup time between each full-session service. Yes, it reduces your earning capacity, but it also reduces burnout and injury (both of which can destroy earning capacity when good workers get sidelined.)
  • Don’t enable or ask employees to work while injured or sick.

3.  Using the wrong /cheap equipment. Yes, it’s more expensive, (but it’ll only hurt for a minute.)

  • Use treatment beds and tables with hydraulic lifts and buy equipment that is expressly designed for the service you’re providing, rather than improvising. Companies like Living Earth Crafts are continuously innovating new designs.
  • Keep your equipment in good repair. It’s no coincidence that one of the key indicators of employee satisfaction in the famous Gallup 12 employee engagement survey is having the “materials and equipment you need to do your work right”.

4. Not providing continuous education in body mechanics and workplace safety. Yes, massage therapists learn a bit about this in school. Do they practice it? With a few exceptions, no. Your other workers, including estheticians, nail techs and front line personnel have equally serious ergonomic challenges.

  • Include some education about ergonomics and working safely in every meeting.
  • Remind your team about body mechanics in your daily “huddle”, with a helpful hint, a new stretch, or a “group massage” before they go on the floor.
  • Identify your best body mechanics role models and hire them to coach their co-workers.
  • Retrofit work stations to make them more ergonomically sound.
  • Bring in outside educators to keep the safety message fresh and engaging.
  • Save Your Hands is the authoritative book and an outstanding program for all team members. They can even train a member of your team to be an Injury-prevention coach.

5. Not providing resources and tools for self-care.

  • Help staff members warm up hands and arms by providing a warm paraffin dip prior to their shift and ice packs to reduce inflammation following their shift.
  • Require that employees are on site 30 minutes prior to their first service
  • Enable them to purchase your great spa products at a deep discount, to encourage them to practice what they preach.

6. Not providing enough (high quality) support Spa employees shouldn’t be stressed out at work: their stress will translate into unhappy guests. But equipment breakdowns, communications mishaps, supply shortages and other operations “fails” create a stressful workplace. Think you can skimp on your support staff, designate “managers” who spend their day in the treatment room, or share your bad mood at work because you’re the boss? Think again.

Workplace wellness is a crucial issue in creating a well world, and it starts with us!

To learn more about ways to keep employees happy and engaged, visit us at wynnebusiness.com. Morale challenge? Trying to create a healthier team?  Contact us at consultants@wynnebusiness.com or call 610.368.6660.

The Second Ingredient of World Class CX: Structure

We’ve been talking about Core Values, the nutrients that “feed” your company’s customer experience. Now it’s time to move up and actually construct a system that can consistently deliver great experiences.

We’ve all heard about the road to hell and what it’s paved with. If your organization is all about the core values but you have no systems or processes, no structure, no architecture, you’ll fail. If you’re values-driven but structure-impoverished, despite your incredible niceness, people will get mad at you and flame you on Yelp.

One of the reasons I love living in Santa Cruz, California, is that it’s a community where people really wear their values on their sleeve. We are awash in good vibes and good intentions. But it’s not been a great place to go out to dinner.

What do I mean by that? Feather, my server, smiles a lot and greats me with genuine warmth. The organic food I’ll be enjoying this evening was sustainably grown nearby. But poor Feather she doesn’t have the training or systems in place to support her success. They’re out of the very thing on the menu I want most. My dinner order isn’t quite right, or the food comes out cold because the place is slammed and there aren’t enough servers on. The restroom is adrift in paper towels and doesn’t appear to have been tidied up by anyone over the course of the busy evening.

Recently my husband and I dined at a local institution that I hadn’t visited in a couple of years, the Shadowbrook. The Shadowbrook is the sort of lovely, landmark, touristic restaurant where you go for your prom, or take the out of town relatives (the ones you like.) It sits on the banks of a beautiful creek just beyond the beach in the charming village of Capitola. It is enclosed by verdant gardens and trickling streams. A friendly neighborhood cat is always there to greet you as you step into a little funicular railway car to take you down the very steep hill into this magical grotto. Got the picture?

These places are generally lousy. They rest on their laurels (or in the case of the Shadowbrook, their giant tree ferns.) In most of these pretty-face tourist traps, food quality is ho-hum. The service is jaded. The prices are high.

As we were being seated, the hostess asked us if we were celebrating a special occasion. Later we heard other diners being asked this question as well. This, my friends, is evidence of a “system.” The Shadowbrook understands that its guests come there for special occasions–not because there isn’t time to make dinner on Friday night. By understanding your special occasion, they accomplish two things: they identify special needs (birthday cake and candle) and they honor the special-ness of your visit, making you feel good. Over the years, they have learned that it makes sense to ask about your occasion. And now it is incorporated into the process and into your “journey” as a customer.

They are fully aware that they are in the business of creating memories. In fact, the Shadowbrook is a finely tuned memory-creation machine. Step aboard, and your work is done. They have it under control. You are not anxiously gazing around the dining room trying to get a server’s attention or asking to have your water refilled. That’s because they have a powerful system, a Ferrari engine of hospitality.

My husband and I had an exceptional dining experience that night. You would never have known this restaurant had been there since the late 1940’s. They fully grasped the significance of our visit and made the evening a special occasion for two. They were doing something that in our Selvice course we call “making it fresh daily.”

To that end, the service was crisp but never rote. The waiter was immaculately attired. He was professional. He was warms and personable but did not try to become our best friend. The busser was every bit as careful, thorough and professional. There was a sense of pride in the way they carried themselves and communicated.

How? These folks had been trained. That’s an element of structure that is too often overlooked. If you think your team members can just “learn by doing,” think again. Formal training is essential to success, and the “throw them in the water” school of training has been debunked by research.

The food was terrific, too. Better than it even needed to be. Very fresh, lots of local-ness, and perfectly cooked. We left impressed, despite the hefty check, as the cat saw us off at the top of the hill. (I really don’t know how they get the cats to do this.)

Structure is about making the intangible tangible. It’s the Body to your Core Values Soul. It holds things together. It makes things happen. Consistently.

Structure is about doing it the right way, again and again. Its purpose is not to create a brilliant, one-of-a-kind improvised performance. (But it may feel that way when it’s done exceptionally well, as in great theatre.)

How does Structure manifest itself?

  • People Plan
    • Organizational structure
    • Consistent hiring process
    • Job descriptions and performance standards
    • Appraisal and Coaching
  • Codified Standards
    • Processes
    • Protocols
  • Communication Plan
    • Documentation
    • Meetings
    • Training
    • Reviews
  • Information System
    • Software
    • Hardware
  • Physical Structure
    • The design and flow of the physical plant
    • Experience flow, Salesflow or merchandising

Structure is like the iceberg of CX. 90% of it is invisible to the customer–or should be.

There are plenty of companies that are structure-centric and values-impoverished. Any left-brain driven outfit is going to be about structure. Medical offices are All. About. Structure. These are businesses that are keen on instructing their customers on the rules. These are the businesses where you, the customer, are expected to conform to the system, not the other way around. These are the companies where you hear the laborious grinding of gears as service is slowly extruded from the machine.

So now we have Core Values and we have Structure. Any company that masters these two elements must have reached the World Class CX level, right?

Not quite. Our Shadowbrook meal had a little something extra. My next blog will talk about that ineffable, above-and-beyond level, where CX starts to look a lot like Art.

Gift Card Accounting Best Practices with Lisa Starr

Just in time for the Mother’s Day gift selling season, Lisa’s latest blog for Booker breaks down the basics of gift card money management. Don’t miss this quick but important read.

Need help with your gift program? We’re here to help. Tell us what’s going on in your company by emailing consultants@wynnebusiness.com

 

World Class CX: The Roots

We believe that there’s a formula for great Customer Experience, or CX. There are three key ingredients. Like any deceptively simple recipe, it’s highly dependent on the “cook.” Like whipped cream, it may have just a couple of ingredients, but it’s still possible to get it completely wrong. The three ingredients we’ll be cooking with are

  • ROOTS
  • STRUCTURE
  • ART

Here are the basic definitions, so you’ll know where we’re going:

Roots are your Core Values. This is what feeds and nourishes your Customer Experience. Without core values that are aligned with creating customer delight, you’ll never achieve that World Class level–the place where your customers are passionately spreading the word about the experience they had with you and looking for any excuse to come visit you and spend their money.

Structure is what you build atop those roots. Structure is everything from the physical structure of your business to its systems and processes. It’s what gives your CX form, and consistency. Core Values provide the nourishment, but Structure is what grows from the Roots.

Art is the creative, above-and-beyond magic of your CX; it’s how you elevate your CX to the World Class level. This is where it blossoms.

So let’s start at the bottom, deep in the “soil” under your organization: ROOTS. Core Values are a business cliché, right? Companies post Core Values, but don’t live them. If you really value a Value, it’s part of your conversation every day. It’s not a slogan or a bullet point in an employee manual. When someone screws up, you talk about the screw-up in terms of how it offends or contradicts a core value. When someone does something amazing, you praise the act in terms of how it supports and expresses a core value. When you do performance appraisals–well, you get the idea. So what are some of the values that support brilliant CX?

  • Respect for others: I would say “duh” but that would be disrespectful.
  • Self respect: No one with low self esteem gives great customer service
  • Empathy: The ability to put yourself in the customer’s shoes is crucial to a great CX
  • Desire to create delight and make others happy
  • Desire to do a good job for the sake of doing a good job
  • Curiosity: Key to problem-solving and digging up the “root cause” of quality issues. Passive people don’t give world class service.
  • Relentlessness: The drive to keep going until you get it right. This is not just patience, it’s doggedness.
  • Honesty: You’re going to make mistakes: a great CX is not just about what happens when things go right.

You can probably think of a couple more values that are specific to your company or your industry. We see the value of transparency showing up a lot these days for tech businesses. Who are Core Values For? Core Values are not about telling your employees how to behave. They are something that everyone in the company has to live by. Even the people running it. This is easier said than done. A lot of folks who run companies have a social style that’s a little different than the folks on their front lines. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. and Ms. Type A. This is a source of one of the biggest disconnects in creating world class Customer Experiences. Let’s just call it by its handy nickname: Hypocrisy. You want your employees to bend over backward to delight a customer? You have to bend over backward first. For your employees. It’s not easy to embody World Class Customer Experience on Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. when your coffee is starting to wear off and someone on your team hits you with yet another Issue from operations. But that is precisely what you must do. Because each employee you interact with, regardless of their role or their rank, is a “Carrier” of your CX. Right down to your accounting team (scary, I know.) No one gets a pass when it comes to living and expressing core values.

I once pushed an accountant too far, requiring that she try to get along with her co-workers. I tried to mediate a session to help her with her appalling communications skills. She quit the next day and dropped off her keys at the front desk without saying bye-bye. It was a terrible disruption to our company, but I couldn’t make an exception for even a hard-to-replace person. Just because you have an important job doesn’t mean you are excused from living the company’s core values. In fact, the more important your job, the more visibly you need to embody the core values of the company. That’s why the only way to identify and define your core values is to do it with your team.

Tony Hsieh of Zappos is famous for this; he engaged his entire company in an exercise to identify and distill its core values down to a manageable…ten. I know, it’s a lot. I’m a fan of having three core values, because it really helps if people can remember them. Identifying core values is not about “making up” values that you aspire to. Your Core Values are already in effect. They are part of your brand DNA. If you have not yet started your company, your personal core values will be the jumping off point. A Core Values Discovery process is about unearthing them and naming them in a way that creates clarity for everyone. And don’t worry that your values have to be single words, as has long been the fashion. I think that sometimes leaves a little too much open to interpretation. Of course, a value like Honesty doesn’t need much word-smithing. Here are the three core values of the customer-centric company that I led for thirty years:

1. WOW our customers 100% of the time

2. Build and protect a fun and harmonious work environment

3. Achieve our goals and keep our commitments

I could engage someone in a semantic debate as to whether these are values or directives. But this format worked well for us because –well, it told us how to act.

Motivating Your Team with Core Values. When our clients lament the lack of “motivation” on their team, they’re often talking about the feeling they have that their team members don’t “get” what’s important. Articulating your Core Values is the first step in “motivating” people to create a better Customer Experiences. The best way to motivate your team is to hire people who share your workplace Core Values. They come pre-motivated. Core Values can’t be implanted, but they can be sought out, brought out and given a chance to shine.

Wynne Business facilitates powerful Core Values Discovery Sessions with teams of every size and companies in every life stage, from startup to turnaround. Tell us about your current values quest and we’ll tell you if we think we can help. Send us an email: consultants@wynnebusiness.com Next time: Structure and its role in World Class CX

CXperts Wanted: #1 In a Series

Customer experience, or “CX” in industry parlance, is the real-world outgrowth of UX, User Experience. While this seems ironic, if not absolutely bass-ackward, the big players in the consumer space figured that if online user experiences were so important, maybe offline user experiences might matter, too.

For decades big business has been paying lip service to customer service. (United Airlines, anyone?) Companies legendary for their customer service, like Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines and Ritz Carlton, were in short supply. That’s why these superstars turn up again and again whenever customer loyalty and customer service are discussed.

Now research has quantified the benefits of improving customer service. In their book Outside In, Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning of Forrester Research document the dawning understanding on the part of Fortune 500 companies that there really is a competitive advantage and when you deliver superior customer service.

This is why, when I enter Wells Fargo Bank today, I feel like I’m entering the set of a musical entitled The Happiest Bank in the World. I am greeted with smiles and hellos, walking through a veritable gauntlet of friendly, well-groomed folks. Even the security guy brought my dog some water on our last visit. When I visit the branch, which is increasingly seldom, I look for my business banking specialist Gustavo so I can say hello. It’s a little bewildering, how happy they all are–after all, it’s a bank–but it has done wonders for my perception of the Wells Fargo brand.

I co-founded one of the country’s first day spas, Preston Wynne, and operated it for thirty years. I recently hung up my spa spurs, but what got me up in the morning for those 360 months was the opportunity and challenge of creating customer delight.

For every minute of that company’s existence, it has been about delivering memorable and satisfying “CX.” (Not even I can resist the allure of this bite size acronym.)

Our mission statement was short and sweet: “Do everything in our power to enable our guests to feel absolutely wonderful, whether they’re calling us on the phone or visiting us for the day.”

Easier said than done, we know. Even with 50 employees, infusing that idea into everyone’s behavior every minute of every day was a work in progress. It is something akin to a spiritual practice–the work is never actually done. We fail in new ways constantly, learn from that, and refine our approach, including customer service protocols, over and over.

Great CX begins with great people. Our strategy was to hire people with personality attributes that not only enabled them to create a superior CX but literally compelled them to do it, as described in the customer service best-seller Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan,where we were profiled along with service legends like Thai airlines.

The most important characteristics:

  • empathy
  • positive outlook (glass half full)
  • resilience
  • sense of humor
  • good self esteem

How do you figure out if the person who’s applying for a job with your company possesses these traits?

  • Interview the holy heck out of them (and ask the right sort of questions)
  • Expose them to lots of different people in your organization and get their take
  • Have them do a paid audition for a few days
  • Check references. Good people have fans who are willing to sing their praises.
  • “Hire slow and fire fast,” recognizing that if it’s not a honeymoon to begin with, it never, ever gets better.

One shortcut to finding the right customer care specialists is to use a social-style categories, such as DISC or Myers-Briggs. We made use of a system that classifies people as either relationship-driven or results-driven. (Guess who gives better customer service?) Then those subsets are broken down as risk-takers (who don’t really care what others think of them) and those who are risk averse (who fear rejection.)

The best social style for customer care is the Amiable style (relationship driven/risk averse.) Next best is Expressive (relationship driven/risk-taking) though they’re better salespeople and tend to make more mistakes when using systems or following protocols. Someone who’s halfway between the two is ideal. Too much fear of rejection can turn an employee into a puddle when facing an angry customer.

Next blog: Three ingredients of world class CX

Making Art, Creating Delight: The Top Tier of CX

It’s time to talk about the final component of World Class CX: Art. The dessert. The frills. The fun stuff.

You can’t have a successful business without these first two ingredients:

1. Core Values: the “soul” of the business, what you stand for, your commitment to your customers

2. Structure: the “body” of the business: its muscles, sinew and circulatory system. The stuff that holds it together and makes it work.

Only when these foundational layers are securely in place can we turn our attention to the final layer, Art.

Art could also be called Magic. And magic happens when you anticipate a customer’s unspoken needs. Things they themselves may not realize they want or need. This is true whether your business is a highbrow spa or a local-color brewpub.

If you’re not psychic, the way that this happens is that you pay close attention to what your guests want and need, and you codify that as part of your system. So that when customer number ten thousand walks through the door, you dazzle her with small touches that elevate the CX to art.

Art is all relative. A friend and I were comparing notes about the warm blankets provided at the outpatient surgical center we’d recently visited. You’d think we’d visited the St. Regis.

Art is the level of CX where we “exceed expectations.”

As such, Art is a fragile flower. It only grows if it is fed by Core Values and protected by solid Structure. A lot of businesses want to skip right to Art, because it’s fun, the dress-up part of “playing store.” A lot of businesses think that Art means spending a lot of money decorating your restaurant or hiring pretty people. However, you can’t exceed expectations if you haven’t even met them in the first place. (No, you don’t get to skip to the head of the class because of your shagreen banquettes.)

We’ve all been in gorgeous retailers, where every effort and expense has been expended to dazzle you–yet it falls flat. You’re not greeted warmly. The staff doesn’t know their inventory. You walk out without making a purchase. Art, schmart.

Maybe it’s the new restaurant with the marquee-name chef, million dollar kitchen and the spectacular hostesses helming the podium. You eat there once and, though you can’t fault them for anything, you just don’t see a reason to return.

Art isn’t just for the high end–though it’s essential if you’re going to compete in the stratosphere. Art doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s not just about fountains or new signage or expensive floor coverings. In fact, much of what turns into Art in your CX is human-generated. And a lot of it is discovered accidentally.

Artful CX is generated by:

  • freshness
  • creativity
  • thoughtfulness
  • anticipation
  • ease
  • exploration
  • refreshment
  • authenticity

But if we are to make this tangible, let’s identify some of the best artful touches:

  • A sincere and prompt greeting
  • Remembering a customer’s name
  • Remembering a customer’s preferences
  • Acknowledging special events in a customer’s life
  • Hand-written thank you notes (or a phone call saying “Hey, we’ve missed you.”)
  • Invitations to special events
  • Regular “refreshment” of the environment, displays, menus
  • Staff members whose appearance expresses the brand
  • Opportunities to personalize and customize our experience
  • Immaculate facilities

If that list doesn’t look dazzling, there’s a reason. The best “magic” is human-scaled.

You can already tell that Art is a much more elusive quality than the two components we’ve already discussed. Not every business manages to get here. Not every business can provide its employees the freedom to create art…because art isn’t made with cookie cutters.

In the upper stratospheres of the marketplace, Luxury Consultants are making it harder to be magical. There is a lot of heavy-handed engineering of artful experiences these days, in the five-star world. While we appreciate the effort, it often feels just like that: effort. The creation of faux “rituals” is one trend that can be downright embarrassing. (Quasi-indigenous faux rituals are the worst.)

So where do you look for inspiration? The biggest focus groups in the world: online review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor. Sure, there is a lot of information there about what annoys people who visit you and your competitors. But just as important, there is a lot of information there about what delights people, much of it small and affordable stuff.

Art isn’t made once and then permitted to gather dust. Art is “made fresh daily,” over and over. That takes energy, effort, and leadership. It takes good examples. It also requires supporting risk-taking by your front line and supervisory employees.

Many good Systems begin life as Art. When a “delighter” is discovered, it’s often worth codifying as a system. Back to our dinner at Shadowbrook and the question about whether we were celebrating a special occasion. That question was probably discovered by an on-the-ball server, who shared the idea with others, until it eventually became part of the System. Yet it still functions as Art, creating opportunities to delight guests, who feel that our needs have been anticipated.

Roots, Structure, and Art: put these three components together effectively and you’ll have a supply of loyal customers that lasts as long as you’re willing to Make it Fresh Daily.