Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Designing A Better Customer Experience: A Lesson from Taco Bell

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photo by ferret111
I admit, I'm a Taco Bell junkie.

I visit the one near my work at least twice a week but in my defense, it's because I can get a full lunch for less than $5 and their drive-thru is pretty quick.

Having been there so many times I've come to appreciate this store's customer service and the affect it has on my overall perception of the Taco Bell brand.

Yesterday's visit was a good case-in-point of customer service done well, in the face of unexpected issues.

On this particular day the drive-thru speaker was out of commission. Rather than just post a sign (or even doing nothing at all, as I've seen many a fast-food restaurant do), this store had the shift manager outside, speaking to each customer as they got into line. He informed people of the issue, warned them that using the drive-thru would take some additional time, and what their options were (order at the window or park and order inside). Just this little bit of human interaction with clear information about what was going on put me at ease. It was clear what my options were and I was able to make an easy and quick decision.

And it was a great example of this store's desire to be proactive when a problem in their customer service design arises.

All to often I find businesses skipping great customer service just to push more orders through or to stay on top of the flow since they aren't adequately staffed. This bothers me, not only as a customer, but as a brand strategist.

When you skip customer service (or take shortcuts) you essentially tell your customers, "My bottom line is far more important than you, the one who makes my bottom line possible." This is short-sighted and reveals your lack of design thinking. And when the day is done, your brand has taken one more hit in the eyes of every customer who walked through your doors, visited your website, or called your phone line.

Every interaction with a person is a chance to make your brand shine. Don't sell your customer service short.