A bathroom. That’s right, a bathroom. That’s what inspired this particular article.

Now before I continue, let’s all agree we’re adults here and can tell bathroom stories without it being awkward.

Flying to Melbourne to participate in some go-to-market training workshops for Microsoft partners, one of the legs of my journey was on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It’s my first time on a Dreamliner. And mid-way through the 11-hour flight, I was caught off guard by my first visit to one of the restrooms.

Before I continue, let me ask you—is there anything you like about airplane bathrooms? The door opens awkwardly, folding in half, and invariably being in your way once you step inside? The bathroom itself is cramped and often poorly lit. And so forth.

https://www.cnet.com/pictures/inside-boeings-787-dreamliner-photos/28/

So I was surprised on the Dreamliner that opening the door didn’t cause it to bend it half. Rather, the whole panel moved out of the way, enabling easy access. And I never felt like it was in my way, or rather, I never felt like I was in ITS way. Furthermore, the inside felt almost spacious, and the lighting was bright.  And finally, when I went to lower the toilet seat and cover after my visit, unlike toilet seats on other planes that slam down if you aren’t careful, these had a tension hinge that kept them from slamming. Awkward seat-slamming noises averted!

What’s my point?

Boeing, in its design of the Dreamliner, paid attention to details about the customer experience and implemented changes that made my use better in small but perceptible ways.

What are you doing to improve the experience for your customers? And are you considering both your direct and indirect customers?

As it relates to the second question, what do I mean by direct and indirect customers? In the Dreamliner example, I am a customer, but not Boeing’s direct customer. Boeing’s direct customer is the airline (in this case, Jetstar), while I am Jetstar’s customer (and hence only indirectly Boeing’s customer).

So who are your indirect customers? If you’re an IT services shop, Managed Services Provider, or VAR, for example, your direct customers would likely be an IT manager at your customer account, or depending on the size of the account, maybe the owner or a business-line executive. That might mean that the employees at the company, or perhaps even your client’s customers, are your indirect customers. Those indirect customers might not buy directly from you, but you may be able to impact their experience, and their positive experiences with your product may contribute to higher retention rates with your direct customers.

After you consider the experiences of your indirect customers, consider the experience your direct customers will have interacting with you. Following are just a few examples of areas where you can focus on your customer’s experience. Hopefully you think of others as well. My recommendation is NOT to tackle them all at once, but rather to pick one, identify one thing you can do, and do it.  Then if that yields positive results, return and select another one.

Ways your customers might experience your product or service:

  • Initial sales calls or interactions
  • Your sales reps’ attire (and for that matter, the attire of all your employees)
  • Your proposals or statements of work
  • The proposal approval process (both at your company and at your client’s company)
  • Welcome and on-boarding processes and experiences
  • Product or service usage
  • Unsolicited calls to your company’s main office number
  • Emails you send out (email footers or other email guidelines)
  • Customer support experiences (whether online, via email, by phone, or in person)
  • The renewal process
  • Cancellation (and “save”) interactions
  • Your win-back efforts
  • Your website

All this from a bathroom visit. Whodathunk?

And see, it really is possible to tell bathroom stories without being juvenile.

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