What makes a great customer experience? And who gets to hear about it?
Working between Prague and Sydney, we have just wrapped up an extraordinary customer experience, facilitated by online provider, Upwork.
Just 2 weeks ago we put a ‘more than urgent’ call to market for a programmer to develop a custom tool for us. He came highly recommended, did an amazing job and we have just finished ‘high fiving each other’ for pulling off the amazing fiat – at all hours of the night and morning, half a world away from each other.
It was a great experience and since completing it, we posted a testimonial to the ‘whole world’ that Boris was amazing. Better still, he, as our ‘provider/performer’ posted an equally compelling testimonial for our business, and our team, acknowledging the flexibility, patience and care that went into the transaction.
So, what makes a great experience, from both sides of the fence? As a ‘consulting company’ we have emerged from an old world of ‘customer is king’ to a new kind of service relationship, where, the notion of provider/performer has transitioned to partner and in that, we are equal owners of the shared experience we create. So here are our top 5 reflections on what made this great:
- The customer is clear on their request. We were making the request, and in writing an explicit brief, were clear on what we required of any provider/performer/partner. This mindful activity of clarifying what needed to be done, why, by when, according to what standards was essential in setting up a constructive relationship. We enabled the provider/performer/partner’s success by considering all of the information, support and resources they needed to successfully deliver the request.
- Flexibility in the execution. For us this meant working across world time zones, Saturday night, Sunday night, 6am in the morning some days and 9.30pm others – and yes, it meant the same for Boris. He did it joyfully, with a shared purpose of designing and delivering a tool that wowed our end client, looked great and was an item that was both functional and highly professional.
- The performer was involved in our commitment. Our request could have looked like a simple task, and if digested as a task, the simplest version that looked ‘good enough’ might have done. This was not our experience. Boris asked question after question to understand our project, our promise, our concerns and then fully invested in delivering the ‘best solution’, not just a solution. He was a part of our commitment and shared the design in that spirit. His solution was a step ahead, enabling analysis of outputs as well as a streamlined input.
- Powerful utilisation of networks to secure delivery. Our project required some quirky things. One of these was an antiquated version of the tool for ‘old software’ users. This was beyond Boris’s space – he uses the latest and greatest. So, he involved a contact to utilise a ‘usually retired’ computer to develop the alternate version. His promise was delivered in two versions and it took his requesting and securing commitments beyond his own domain to make it happen. As the customer, we knew about this, but he never imposed it as a challenge or problem – just a part of the delivery chain to deliver his commitment to a first class tool in multiple formats (one new and one old) …
- Conversations for appreciation. There were many on the way through. “Thanks for working on Saturday morning to meet our time frame” and “thanks for taking the initiative to make this as simple as possible for the user” and “thanks for cleaning up the interface for a single screen view”. From him “thanks for the opportunity” and “thank you for being available at real time”. At 10.30pm at night, exhausted from the long days of work, these are the kinds of things that give you the strength to keep going.
The upshot? The tool is working brilliantly. Our one ‘error’ (macro-based) was fixed by Boris Free of charge! Our tool is gathering mission-critical data that helps us improve the efficiency and effectiveness of thousands of people. When we do this, we save them time, enhance quality, strengthen relationships and produce better customer outcomes.
The best part of this assignment was stepping back and reviewing our online evaluations of each other. This new world of customer and performer relationship is visible and so it should be. There’s no room for lop-sided relationships between customers and performers in this era of business, nor back of house secrets behind a polished business façade.
We appreciate this new world of business we are participating in!