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Customer Satisfaction: Reality or Illusion?

Apr 5, 2016 Project Management James Mitchell

blog-thumbnail3_copy.jpgLet's be honest—we all think we know what is real and what isn't. That is, until we see a magician showing us something that we know to be impossible. As a performing magician, the exclamations of "Wow!", "That's Amazing", "What!?!", "No Way" and the like are the reason I continue to do what I do. To me, there’s nothing more rewarding than that kind of reaction. Those moments of joy, mystery and excitement felt while witnessing the impossible are the whole point.

However, while magic is based on illusion, customer satisfaction is achievable in reality--even though not everyone thinks so. Since both magic and customer satisfaction are about getting the reaction/responses that you want, you can learn a lot by comparing them. It all comes down to knowing the secret (pun definitely intended), or more specifically knowing the three steps to receiving a great reaction: the Performance, the Secret and the Practicing.

The Performance

When working on a new routine, I always begin with the end in mind. I need to fully understand and visualize exactly how I want something to be received. What reaction or feeling am I going for? Do I want someone to gasp in disbelief, laugh at an incredibly cheesy joke or totally miss some sneaky move? If I don't have a clear benchmark for what I'm going for, then how in the world can I expect to measure my achievements against it? The same is true with a customer experience. We need to decide and agree as a company exactly how we want our customer's experience to be. No generalities here—we need to get specific.

Additionally, you can expect the unexpected to happen. When I’m performing, I oftentimes receive unexpected or differing reactions than those I planned for. These are exactly where the other steps come into play, since every reaction tells me where in my performance more attention is needed.

The Secret

As a magician, one of the questions I'm asked most often is, "How did you do that?" I always respond, "You don't really want to know," and I really mean it. If people knew the secret to a magic trick, it would cease to create the same wonder it did beforehand, and it often brings about dissatisfaction that something so simple fooled them.

The real secret to creating customer satisfaction is to provide a quality experience at each interaction. In order to do that, you have to know what those interactions are in the customer's journey. Creating a journey map will chart precisely that, essentially if it details every interaction and can be graded for improvement opportunities. Not only is this extremely important but it can be equally enlightening. How many times have you been purchasing something or out to eat having a great experience and then you have a single interaction that derails the whole experience, leaving a bad taste in your mouth? Of course, the same thing can be true for us then; we need to remember that every interaction provides as much weight to the final experience as any other interaction. Combined they create the desired experience.

We have begun with the end in mind, we've charted our interactions and found where improvement opportunities are. There’s only one thing left to do, practice.

The Practicing

Knowing the secret to a magic trick doesn't make one a magician. Even so, the difference between a good magician and someone who does tricks is practicing. Once someone reads the secret, sure, they can do the trick, but to take the trick and perform it is completely different. I have spent hours rehearsing things over and over and over to make them appear seamless and magical.

We need to do the same thing at each leg in our customer's journey. We need to take a hard look at those interaction points and those improvement opportunities and start making changes. It’s time to be intentional with what we modify knowing the performance we're looking for. Once modifications are made to the performance we can begin measuring the results. If we see things moving the satisfaction in the right direction, we keep doing them. If not, more refinement will be needed. I also suggest taking on no more than 1-3 changes per cycle; otherwise, you run the risk of spending too much time changing and no time implementing any changes.

There are some effects that I have been performing for 5 years and yet wouldn't say I've mastered yet. I’m continually refining how or when I do something, or what I say during the effect. Doing this continues to make the performance stronger and stronger, seeing what’s received well or what draws the exact reaction I'm looking for. The same continual refinement must be applied to our customer's journey. Continue to refine, measure and perform only to measure, refine and perform again and again.

Remember, customer satisfaction isn't just smoke and mirrors—it’s in fact... possible to achieve.

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Topics: Project Management

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