Building a Positive Customer Experience

customer experience

Forget your signage, business cards, T-shirts and website. When you’re in a service business your people are the most important aspects of your brand. One of my business school professors expressed it with a simple equation: 

Brand = n x t (365) 

In this equation, “n” equals the number of people in your organization, “t” equals how many times each day they interact with a member or a prospective customer, and 365 is the number of days in the year. His point is that you can write whatever you want for your brand strategy, mission and values, but in the end your brand is simply the aggregate of everything your team does all year long. 

In other words, technical credentials and physical capabilities are only part of what makes strong team members. They also need to be trained for, as well as understand and embrace, their roles as ambassadors for your brand. 

Fortunately this is usually not that difficult. The attitudes, habits and values that make them great trainers and Coaches go a long way to also making them good people who you want to represent your business. Still, situations arise all of the time where the right answer is not obvious, and even the best employees appreciate having some rules to follow in making judgement calls. 

It’s for times like this you need to make sure everyone on the team knows your answer to three questions: 

  1. How do I prioritize when dealing with an unexpected situation? Nothing is more stressful for a good team member than having to resolve a problem or make a difficult decision when you’re not available for advice. You avoid this by articulating a few default rules that apply whenever a judgement call is required.In my agency there were three: Tell the truth. Exceed expectations. Be the best-prepared, most professional person in the room. Everyone knew if you followed these rules you were covered, whatever the actual outcome of the situation.  These rules not only empowered my team, but also became cornerstones of our agency brand.
  2. How much freedom do I have to innovate? When you’re dealing with talented workers, it’s important they have the freedom to express themselves and inject their personality into their work. However, it only takes a couple of “I wish you had done that differently,” to put a chill on the spontaneous spirit.Instead, be clear about what rules are baked in and where there is leeway right up-front. Can I adapt a workout based on who I’m working with? Is it OK to bring in equipment from home? Who decides whether to work outside or in? Is it OK to show an alternative way to do a routine? The better people understand where the lines are drawn the more freedom they have to work within those lines to create the best experience for the members in their care.
  3. Who is responsible for what? The best way to guarantee every person who enters your Box leaves with a positive impression is to make sure every team member understands and owns his or her role. This clarity ensures consistency and stops things from falling through the cracks. More energy goes into being great and less into finger pointing and arguing over who does what.

When I raise these points many owners accuse me of “over managing,” but I find that, handled appropriately, team members actually appreciate this clarity. In fact, I challenge you to put these questions in front of your second-in-command to see if he or she comes up with the right answers. In the end, less ambiguity means less stress for your team and greater consistency for the people who visit your Box, and that’s the foundation of a great brand experience.    

Michael McLinden earns his road rash as a serial entrepreneur, and consultant to health, wellness and fitness related companies in the U.S. and Europe with a focus on market analysis, branding and value creation. He has held executive management and strategic planning responsibilities in a number of regional and global advertising and marketing firms, including Mc|K Healthcare, which he co-founded and ran until 2014. He holds an MS from Purdue University and an MBA from TIAS Nimbas business school in the Netherlands. Email him at