Managing Your Customer’s Experience

There are plenty of places to rent tools and equipment in Columbia Missouri, where I live. If I need to rent a post-hole auger or a power sander, I go to Lindsey Rentals. It is a great experience. It is not a sparkling clean place. It looks kind of like a big tool shed, with all the grease and dust you might expect. It is a fun place to rent. It is fun because the owners and staff know their customers, if not by name, then by face. And when they recognize you they tell you off-colored jokes, give you grief, tease you and otherwise give you a hard time. As the customer, you are expected to tease them back, give them a hard time and share a few laughs. It is fun just to stand there and watch the exchanges between the staff and the regular customers, especially the commercial and construction customers. It is a wonderful way to run this type of business. And it seems to be a great way to get your regular customers coming back for more. Can you imagine the potential loss of income if someone who regularly rents a back-hoe for $600.00 a day goes to rent somewhere else?

I have no idea if their prices are higher or lower than anyone else. I don’t care. I assume they are not very much higher than anyone else, but I may be wrong. What I know is this: Spending time and money to do projects around the house may be enjoyable at times. But most projects are not pleasurable, they are a chore. Spending money to rent a piece of equipment is painful. Spending time to go get the equipment is a pain in the neck. Most people who rent equipment are guys. What makes us come back to this tool rental place is the little bit of pleasure we get from poking fun at the owners and getting picked on in return. Sherman and Billy, who own Lindsey Rentals have, by accident or by design, found a way to balance out all the displeasure and discomfort involved in renting tools and turn the whole experience into a pleasurable one.

We all have our own shopping styles and preferences. No matter how you slice it, shopping and buying comes down to basic pain and pleasure stimuli and responses. We are subject to conditioning. Places and actions that we associate with pleasure we seek to experience again. Experiences that cause us pain, we seek to avoid. Your customers go through this process during every contact they have with you.

Do a simple experiment. Make two columns on a piece of paper. Title one Pain and title the other Pleasure. Then walk through the entire process your customer walks through while dealing with you. Make a tick mark each time you think something causes pleasure and one each time you think pain is the result. You may be surprised at the number of tick marks on the pain side.

How much pleasure or pain does your customer expect? Expectation is the filter through which your customer views and internalizes the pain and pleasure of dealing with you. An expected pain does not hurt as much or last as long as an unexpected one. An expected pleasure does not feel as good or last as long as an unexpected one.

What pains are unavoidable or common to all suppliers of your service? What pains are unique to your operation? What pleasures are common to the shopping experience your customer could have at any of your competitors? What pleasures are unique to your operation? The answers to these questions differentiate you from your competition for better or worse.

Let’s drill it down just a little further. What pleasures offset which pains? Which pains offset which pleasures? If a pain is not offset by some sort of pleasure, then the pain does not go away. In the same vain, a very nice pleasure can be erased by a corresponding pain.

Let’s take self-storage as an example. Imagine you run a self-storage facility. What would you need to consider doing a pain and pleasure audit? Let’s look at a typical storage experience. Joe and Edna are building a new house. There are all sorts of pains and pleasures involved here.