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  • “Best camp of the summer!” my son exclaimed, at the conclusion of art camp last week.

    “Great! You’re never going there again!” I replied.

    Okay, I didn’t say that. But I thought it, and that sentiment is 100% sincere. I don’t care how much fun he had, I knew thirty seconds after entering the place that this would be his first and last week there. Let me explain.

    We walked in, looking appropriately bushy-eyed and curious as day oners tend to. Where did we check in? Was there paperwork to sign? I noticed a woman sitting at a small table, no more than twenty feet away. By process of elimination, I determined her to be the one. But instead of approaching us, greeting us, or generally acknowledging our existence in any way whatsoever, she just sat there, quietly avoiding eye contact until we finally wandered over to her.

    Are you serious right now? I don’t care about your diptych leanings or your cubist tendencies. I’ll forgive the rotating staff and general disorganization. I mean, all you have to do is take an interest in my child. Say hi. Maybe ask him his name. Go nuts. And in this respect, you are failing legendarily, ma’am. 

    That was my perception, anyway. And not to sound too self-important here, but my perception is about the ONLY thing that matters in this scenario. Because it is my (the customer) perception that is the most fundamental aspect of the overall Customer Experience (CX).

    I gave this example to demonstrate the stark differences between the UX (User Experience) and the CX. The UX was fantastic. My son did observational drawings, made fossils and brought home a tiny ice floe diorama complete with polar bears. The user experience was supercharged with creativity and radiated awesomeness.

    The problem for this particular business is that the UX is merely one slice of the overarching CX pizza pie. CX is the sum of all the customer interactions, including customer service, marketing, brand touchpoints and more. And, as aforementioned, it is how the customer perceives he/she is being treated. And my perception was that of a bag of garbage you speed by on the highway.

    My wife loves to talk about the importance of being “properly greeted” when we go into any small business or restaurant. I am not high maintenance, I swear. I don’t need hand-holding or extra attention; but I would like to be simply acknowledged as a patron of your establishment. I would, it seems, like to be properly greeted.

    So the question becomes, how can we, as businesses, control how we are perceived by our customers? Perception is a highly subjective thing, and it can be easily influenced by myriad external factors, such as technological competency, intuition and just plain mood.

    The answer is that we can’t. Not entirely. But what we can do is adjust our dial a bit, to make sure we are clearly tuned to the frequency of our customers’ signals. Here are 4 easy ways to boost your CX:

    1. Take know for an answer. Have you visited your operating principles recently? Are they being followed, or are some updates needed? How prominent a role does the customer have? Take a moment for some self-reflection. Is the company moving in the direction you want, philosophically, or just kind of getting by? 

    2. Say what you do, do what you say. Trite but true, perhaps, but setting expectations for your customers and then delivering them appropriately is crucial. There is a direct correlation between the expectations and the delivery to the overall level of customer satisfaction. Remember, it is all about perception; so if you are promising A, B and C, make sure you are delivering all three consistently and continuously.

    3. Check-in are not just for hotels. If you want to know how your customers perceive you, ASK them. It’s just crazy enough to work. People like to be thought of. Especially in an age of online shopping, automated payments and autobots, the human touch holds arguably more sway than ever.  

    4. Think (customer) first. You don’t need to go full undercover boss, but the act of consciously thinking about how your actions could be received can be helpful. It’s easy to lose sight of the customer from time to time. So be pro-active. You’ll never know exactly how they feel, but deciding with empathy will put you on the right track.

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