Employee training is a well entrenched practice and is increasingly seen as a key differentiator in highly competitive marketplace. Any product or service should come bundled with superior customer experience to stand above the noise, and increasingly, training delivers this edge. Now while Corporations have complete control on the employee training process (they pay the salary and that’s a good enough motivation for employees to embrace training :)), can they also train their customers to behave in a certain way to increase productivity and make the purchase or the service a pleasant experience?
It so happens that those of us that frequent Starbucks or fly Southwest (or do both) have been trained to behave in a certain way to make the process of ordering a coffee and the process of checking-in and boarding an efficient and pleasant process. The primary motivation that has compelled most of us to embrace this training is the fear of being called out in public. The next time you order at Starbucks, try asking for a large cup of latte. You will be promptly asked to choose from “tall”, “grande”, and “venti”. Also, the barista at the counter will make it a point to announce your order properly using the “correct” terminology. Similarly, try getting on board Southwest with a “B” boarding pass when they are boarding group “A”. You will be promptly asked to go back and wait for your turn.
The question is would it be possible to apply a similar approach in a B2B engagement? My own experience shows that it is possible to enforce an element of standardization. But this is contingent on your sales strategy. If your sales pitch centers around your ability to stick to the customer’s processes, there is little scope for changing customer process or behavior. A consulting approach from the beginning opens up such possibilities.
Check out this video from HBR. Anne Morriss, Co-author of Uncommon Service talks about Starbucks.