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O’Connell says that service design, which has its roots in Europe, is a fairly new discipline in the United States.  The real crux of service design is for a business to think, reimagine and engineer the customer experience – from start to finish. Stewart states that every part of a service should be designed to create a set of expectations, and then deliver on them in a way that maps to your strategy.  For example, Starbucks wants to create a different experience from a deli, Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s.  How you design your experience is part of your strategy. Stewart asserts that some moments matter more than others.  These are known as critical customer interactions, those moments when you either make it or break it with a customer.  For instance, the time of an automobile insurance claim is that moment when a customer will decide to either love you or hate you.  You’ve got to deliver an “aha” moment.

O’Connell describes the Five Principles of Service Design:

  1. The customer is always right, provided it is the right customer for you.
  2. Don’t surprise and delight customers, just delight them.
  3. Great service should not require heroic efforts.
  4. Anywhere you play, you need to play well (across all platforms or channels)
  5. You’re never done.

Stewart discusses the importance of aligning yourself with one of the Nine Archetypical Service Designs, including these three:

  1. Bargain – Are you the Walmart of your industry?
  2. Trendsetter – Are you the Apple of your industry?
  3. Safe choice – Are you the CVS or Macy’s of your industry?

Which is your archetype?

Do not study others in the same archetype in the same industry as yours, as you’ll just be copying them.  Instead, study others in the same archetype as you, but in different industries.  What can you learn about delivering an extraordinary customer experience from them? Thomas A. Stewart, the executive director of the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM), shows executives how to design, manage and run organizations that keep pace with innovation and achieve sustainable growth. Before joining NCMM, Stewart served as the chief marketing and knowledge officer for the international consulting firm Booz & Company (now Strategy&). Prior to that, for six years, he was the editor and managing director of Harvard Business Review. Patricia O’Connell, president of Aerten Consulting, works with companies to devise content strategies and develop thought leadership.  For 12 years, O’Connell served as news editor and then as the management editor of

“Customer experience is about all of the things you need to do to make sure that all of your customers have a terrific experience from start to finish, with you, your brand, your services, what you are selling, and your employees.” – Patricia O’Connell

“Good service and great customer experiences need to be built into a company, just like performance is designed into a BMW or intuitiveness is designed into a Mac.” – Thomas A. Stewart

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 What questions will this episode answer?

  1. What is the difference between a customer experience and customer service?
  2. What is the difference between an “ahh” moment and an “aha” moment?
  3. What is a customer journey map and how can you use it?
  4. Why is it important to design the customer experience as carefully as you designed the product that you are selling?

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