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Why Minnesota Nice isn’t Guest Experience

by Don Thorpe on 03/25/15

Growing up and living in Minnesota, we have a phenomenon people from around the United States call “Minnesota Nice.”  People from all over the world come to Minnesota and comment on how nice the people are.


I have to admit, I believe that Minnesota does have some of the nicest people in the world but that doesn’t qualify them as providing a World Class Customer/Guest Experience. 


Being nice is the price of admission in the world of Customer/Guest Experience.  Being nice is the table stakes for being in the game. 


A true Customer/Guest Experience is based upon many things.

·      A systematic approach to dealing with Guests

·      Learning the Guests preferences

·      Using the Guest’s preferences to improve the Experience

·      Using the Guest’s preferences to further engage the Guest into your business, increasing their loyalty and spending

·      Understanding your Guest’s boundaries as to level of contact

·      Emotionally engaging the Guest to help them take an ownership stake in your establishment


Ultimately, a Customer/Guest Experience is one that which can be felt.  The Guest leaves feeling as though they are connected, valued and in ownership of a great relationship with your establishment. 


If it comes down to just being nice…well, that’s nice.  If you want loyal Guests who call your business “MY”, it’s about creating a World Class Customer/Guest Experience.   

It is all about Connection

by Don Thorpe on 03/05/14

Why do people choose to go to one business or another to purchase the products and services they need and want?  

I think a common misconception is that people go because of the service or product they are looking for.  I disagree. 

People come to a business especially for a service to connect with someone who can provide the services they want and need. 

I seriously doubt that most people want to go to someone different every time they; do their taxes, get their oil changed, need to print something, get their hair colored, go to the doctor or anything else. 

This is where most businesses miss the mark, they think they are in the service or product business. 

So, in case you missed it: You are in the connection business. 

Wrap your mind around the thought of creating a connection or creating a system that helps your team members to connect with the guests in your business. 

Connection = Truly the greatest competitive advantage of all time. 

Think about it, figure it out and please do it. 

Top Customer Experience Companies

by Don Thorpe on 02/28/14

The following is a list of the top 10 rated companies in Customer Service; this list was posted in US News and World Report.  Look for the common threads. 

1.           Amazon

2.           USAA

3.           Lowes

4.           Trader Joe’s

5.           Marriot

6.           Home Depot

7.           Barnes and Noble

8.           Marshalls

9.           Sam’s Club

10.       CostCo


The most interesting thing to me in the list is the common thread of 5-6 of the 10.  They keep extensive records of their customers preferences. 

Amazon makes great recommendations to you based upon your purchases and even your views when just looking around.  Lowes now has My Lowes, to keep track of your purchases and Marriot besides being Ladies and Gentlemen, serving Ladies and Gentlemen, keeps extensive preference information on each guest. 

The great thing about these companies is they are extremely appropriate on how they gather the Intel but also extremely appropriate as to how they use the Intel. 

So, take a few minutes to think about how your company uses the information from your guests and customers, and decide how you could do it better. 

The appropriate gathering and use of guest and customer Intel can transform the Experience you provide and help you in growing your business. 

Break the huddle and run the play!

What is Business Development?

by Don Thorpe on 02/28/14

Business Development is in a very short answer, growing your business.  I love the concept of Organizational Health put forward in Patrick Lencioni's latest book.  Developing your business or creating  a healthy business should be the concern and battle cry of everyone in business today.  Actually, if you are not trying to build your business or increase its organizational health, better change your mind or put it up for sale.  

How?   I think business development is a wheel with many spokes.  Business Development is the hub and Systems are the tire. 

The spokes are:  Focus, Money, Marketing, Operations, Customer Experience, Organizational Health or Culture, Team Member Attraction and Team Member Development. 

If you are a solo-preneur, you were all these hats and really only have to deal with your will and ability to carry them out.  If you employ people, the challenge deepens.  

Think about how you fare in the 8 spokes of Business Development, think about it honestly and then go to work.  If I were you, I'd start with Focus. 

Are you leaking attention?

by Don Thorpe on 02/28/14

In a recent Minnesota forceful thunderstorm, my boat was torn from its lift, rammed repeatedly into my neighbors rip rap and sunk. I was mostly concerned about the engine but when the insurance adjuster saw it, she totaled it because she said it would leak. Well, nobody wants a leaky boat.

Everyday our relationships with our family, friends and customers/guests sink because of our leaking. We are not leaking water, we are leaking attention.

I have to admit, society has played a big part in our ADD world but as my friend John would say,  Even though it is not our fault, it is our problem.

Every day, every hour and possibly more often we leak attention to the very important people in our lives. We are distracted by the device strapped to our belt or the urgent but not important things we think we should do.

Stop leaking attention, here are a few tips:

Do not check your smart phone when meeting with someone face to face, they deserve your time.

When standing talking to someone, point your toes at them. When we point our feet away from someone, our body language tells them that we are leaving or worse, our mind has already moved on to the next task.

Find out the color of their eyes. This is not intended to be a creepy technique but in American culture, eye contact is a sign of respect. No staring contests but eye contact says that you are engaged.

All the technology in our world is supposed to connect us; it does just the opposite most of the time.

People look for people to connect with, actually crave it. Lay off the high tech and go with the high touch.         Really connect!

Let me know what you think, would love to hear your comments.

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