Workplace Wisdom

Don’t Paper Over the Reality of Customer Experience

You’ve probably seen that embarrassing Seinfield episode (weren’t they all?) when Elaine is in a public restroom and realizes that there’s no toilet paper in her stall. If this has ever happened to you, it probably only took a couple of times before you made it standard practice to check for paper when you first open the stall door. (Let’s call that customer awareness, or customer education.)

Early in my career, I managed an operation that worked weekends. The building management never stocked enough toilet paper in the ladies’ room to last through the Sunday shifts. On Fridays, during lunch, I’d stop and pick up a few packages of toilet paper to leave in the office so the staff could work comfortably and with a sense of security. (Let’s call that employee relations.)

Just recently, when I’d arrived at a client office earlier in the morning than most of the employees, I entered a restroom stall and saw that the jumbo toilet paper dispenser was visibly full. When I reached for the toilet paper, though, I found that it was a fresh roll, and that no one had broken into it yet.

The end of the roll was completely and firmly glued down. It took me several minutes of struggling to get my fingers far enough into the slot to tear through a couple of layers of paper and get the roll started. It probably took me longer than necessary because I was laughing. (Should we call that customer engagement? Over-involvement? Or just too much information?)

Here’s the point: When you’re preparing your goods or services for a customer, be mindful of the nitty-gritty details: Keep the customer’s actual experience in mind. Finish the job. Don’t outsource the end of the job back to the customer.

For another example of restrooms and customer experience, see Don’t Waste a Customer Care Opportunity.

Onward and upward,

LK

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