Services need to be designed with every bit as much care as a high-performance car or a mobile phone. Get it right and one builds a base of satisfied customers with all the subsequent benefits like repeat purchases and positive word of mouth.
So what are the general principles of service design?
It’s vital to understand what purpose the service has, who is likely to use it and how it will be delivered. For a resort it might be that the purpose of the service is to offer busy guests a relaxing and refreshing respite from the stresses and strains of their lives.
Services should be designed around customer needs with the internal needs of the business in second place (although the need for a profitable service business model should be part of the equation). Consider the value the customer will receive; your value proposition. In the case of the resort the value proposition for guests is that they will feel relaxed and refreshed during and at the end of their stay.
Look for the ‘gestalt’ of the service – the complete customer journey. A component-by-component which can lead to poor overall service performance. The resort needs to think about everything from guests’ first point of contact through to the actual experience during their stay and follow-up afterwards (through a survey, newsletter and maybe membership of a loyalty programme).
Be ready for the exceptions. There will be occasions when special events occur (those that cause variation in general processes). This could be a special request from a customer (for a romantic dinner to celebrate an anniversary) or a complaint. Have processes that deal with each possible scenario. Staff should not be caught ‘on the hop’.
Get close to customers as they use your service and find out what can be improved. This can be done through customer surveys, or getting someone from customer service to spend time with customers and probe for high points and points of frustration. Don’t overlook your front line and line managers as a source of service improvement ideas as they spend all their time with customers. In a resort, the front line staff will be able to offer important insights – prime them what to look out for.
When service enhancements are made, make sure you ‘socialise’ them with all the key stakeholders. Everyone who plays a role throughout the complete customer journey should have a clear understanding of what you want the service experience to be (ie how it will be experienced by customers) and that includes those in the service value chain outside your business like agents and distributors. In the case of the resort the various online and offline agents need to be included. It’s time to shout about what’s special about your resort. Your front-line staff can be involved through an employee service engagement programme that links the technical side of service delivery with the softer side (what we call ‘heartware’).
Finally, look to those who get it right (and get it right consistently) for guidance and inspiration. There are many great examples from each industry sector and they can offer valuable insights and ideas.
Speak to Purple about designing your service to give you a competitive edge while also enhancing business results and your bottom line. We take a thorough approach using a range of tried and tested tools and techniques.