I once wrote about connecting the dots. But connecting the dots isn’t constrained to strategic thinking, it applies in every domain. For example, to read a person’s unspoken thoughts, you can read their body language. This takes some preparation, but it is really about connect the dots within a context.
Taking this example further, the same principle applies in the domain of customer experience. What does connecting the dots look like? To illustrate, here is what happens at Gramercy Tavern (from the book Influencer):
For example, a woman frantically rushes through the entrance of Gramercy Tavern, one of Danny’s exquisite establishments located in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. The potential diner is distraught because she has just left her purse in the taxi that dropped her off for lunch and then sped away into a sea of yellow. The blood drains from the woman’s face as she realizes that not only will she never see her purse again but she also has no way to pay for her meal. Or get back to work.
At this moment, Danny’s culture of hospitality kicks into action. An employee (let’s call him Carlo) notices the stranger’s look of panic, learns of her problem, and invites her to join her party— who are already seated and waiting for her. “Don’t worry about paying,” Carlo comforts the worried guest. “We’ll settle up some other time. For now, please enjoy yourself. In the meantime, what is your mobile number?” Surmising that the frantic customer likely left her cell phone in her purse, Carlo asks a colleague to repeatedly call the number. Thirty minutes later when the taxi driver finally hears the ring and answers the call, he’s many miles north in the Bronx. Carlo then flashes the Batman signal onto the side of a building to summon the Caped Crusader … Okay, the Batman thing isn’t true, … but what Carlo does do is quite heroic. He arranges to meet the taxi halfway between the two points, and he pays the driver for his trouble, retrieves the purse, and presents it to the woman just as she finishes her lunch. We’re guessing she responded by promising to name her firstborn child after the caring man who has been the very essence of hospitality.
What makes this incident remarkable is not just that it took place at all but that similar actions routinely occur in each of Danny’s restaurants. Although Danny draws from the same labor pool, works in the same industry, buys the same ingredients, and builds in the same neighborhoods as 20,000 other New York restaurateurs, he has found a way to differentiate himself from all of his competitors— through influence. Members of Danny’s staff behave markedly differently from your average restaurant employee, and this has not been the result of some lucky accident. It’s been the result of Danny’s systematic and intentional actions aimed at influencing very specific behavior.
While the above example is from the offline world, it isn’t so different from what you can do in the online world.
I’ve talked about this before and how social media, if you put in the effort, lets you do this. Let’s think through a hypothetical example of a very common scenari0. Last night I tweeted the following to my phone and internet provider:
— Jorge Barba (@jorgebarba) September 8, 2013
I basically said, “Hey, my internet connection sucks right now!”. I didn’t expect them to answer. Though it would’ve been surprising if they did.
Anyways, continuing on with a hypothetical scenario. Imagine if they looked at my Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, blog, etc, etc… You could cull from these sources a variety of data about me, and come to certain conclusions:
- My work depends a lot on having an internet connection
- I tweet more in the evening
- I work on the weekends, usually at night
- I read on the weekends
- I have a following on social networks
- I’ve blogged about how social customer service is an untapped are of opportunity before
- I blog about how to create change
- I blog frequently
- etc, etc, etc
You get the picture.
To a patient and attentive service provider, all of these behavior patterns can give them a good idea of who I am. This isn’t that different from the Gramercy situation, the only difference is how you go about connecting the dots, and the desire to do so, and act on them.
BTW, I am still waiting for them to respond.
Although this posts is focused on the internal side of customer experience, one should always be connecting the dots on the external world too. Through keen observation, questioning and associating is how we gain insights. People are always giving away hints of what is going on inside their heads, these are a trail of breadcrumbs one can follow to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
What looks like a rant to business, looks like an area of opportunity to do something extraordinary to someone else. There is an untapped element of surprise when “connecting the dots” in the offline world. People are not used to being “wowed” either offline o online.
Again, is this is a huge untapped opportunity to change expectations.
What are you doing to connect the dots?