Myself and a bunch of friends are going to jump from a plane in a couple weeks. I have mixed feelings about how much I’ll enjoy it. The safety statistics don’t concern me much, nor does the thought of jumping from the plane particularly make me sweat. The part of the trip I am most dreading is the many hours that we will have to sit around the wherever-you-sit-at-a-skydiving-joint and think Think think about all the tiny logistics of what we’re about to do. The same unending stream of thoughts that makes my brain so very useful for discovering creative solutions/solving deep-rooted problems isn’t discriminating about what it will analyze; therefore I’m probably destined for some miserable hours. It is one thing to go from hanging out and drinking beers to jumping 14,000 feet. It’s another to sit around with little diversion for hours and ponder how someone could hit the wing.
I’m thinking the skydiving experience will most likely prove to be another everyday example of preventable customer discomfort. I believe that these discomforts exist in large part because, often times, customers do not even realize their discomfort is preventable. The example on Creating Passionate Users of two potential dentists’ offices comes to mind. One dentist office looks more or less like every dentist office I have ever been to: dry, clinical, and, um, black & white. The other one is dressed in warm colors, “smells like cookies,” and has a wine bar. Every time I have gone to my dentists’ since seeing this graphic, I think to myself, “Where’s the damn wine?” Every time I sit in the seat, stare toward the ceiling, and listen to the sweet lullabys of the dental drill, I think, “Where’s the plasma TV with ESPN or Xbox 360 or anything?”
Simply put, service providers have a tremendous opportunity to see past conventions and create an experience that makes the customer happy from the moment they enter to the moment they leave. The service itself is but one aspect of the experience. In many cases, the service itself might take only a small portion of the overall time for the experience (how many times have I sat 20 minutes or more in an empty patient room at a doctor’s office, waiting for a doctor that spent five minutes with me before rendering their verdict?). And the service is frequently not what’s on the customer’s mind during most of the experience.
It is the experience that I remember, and it is the experience that I think about when considering whether I’d go back.