Experiencing working (in) style

A question I pondered recently - is service experience able to be designed, or does it already need to be in your DNA in order to happen?

A question I pondered recently - is service experience able to be designed, or does it already need to be in your DNA in order to happen? The following story sets out the answer:

grenville main dna idealogWorking Style – the eponymous men's tailor – recently saved my bacon (well, actually my gut from hanging out) … and I am not just indebted to them, I think I actually love them.

Recently I was in Auckland and had carefully packed everything to attend a tony black tie event – shoes, tick; matching socks, tick; suit, tick, bow tie, tick, cufflinks, tick. You get the picture.

All day I worked in the office and got a ton done, but as usual was running a little late for the event. I raced to the men's room to change ... and there it was, the terror of not remembering the fundamental black tie trap. The white shirt (tick) needs those pesky little metal studs (cross), because it doesn't have buttons like a normal shirt - no, that would make life too easy.

So, the sweats break out, I tried (yeah I really did) to see if I could fudge closing the shirt with two pairs of cufflinks (fail) and then started to panic. The options seemed clear (and there were really only three).

One, figure out something with paper clips or maybe double sided tape.

Two, just don't go, feign illness, lie to the other half about why you couldn't make it, but don't show up with your shirt open at the beginning of the evening.

Three, think of something else real fast – surely you know someone near by who might be able to help…

I grabbed the Chancery store number for Working Style (where I'd bought the sodding shirt the year before for the same event!) and make the call. They had just closed, but heard the panic in my voice, and seemed to actually care enough to stay open while I sprinted semi-clad through downtown Auckland rush hour traffic and help me out. Arriving at a serene and somewhat closed store, I tapped at the door and was allowed in.  The staff had already denuded a mannequin of said studs and had them ready in the change room for me. They refused to take my money, and wished me a fantastic and more relaxing evening ahead. Off I went, out into the bright lights of Auckland and off to the AMP Scholarship annual awards dinner, where I had a great night.

Saved. So, you see, I have to love Working Style.

Working Style seem to know what service means, and this was an experience I'll remember for some time. It sets Working Style apart from so many other places and other products where if you are closed you are closed. The value to Working Style is this: I bought the shirt there, and already had a experience; now this has bought them some loyalty. The cost to them? Low.

At DNA we work in a domain where business drivers and metrics matter. People talk of lifetime value, cost to serve, the cost of acquiring customers and so forth. When one gets a great service experience, it counts for a lot. Equally, bad ones will burn  you.

What does it say about knowing your customers, going a little further to meet their needs, and looking past the current sale? Heaps. I'm sure this is not an accident, but it's also done without pretension, it's down to earth, good honest service design at work. I think service, quality and a human touch are in Working Style's DNA, which is designed into all they do, from product to stores, marketing, partnerships, and most importantly – people.

If relief leads to respect, then service – when it's designed well – surely leads to love. It doesn't get better than this.

In trying to compose a tweet I toyed with "Thanks @workingstyle for helping a 'man in a state of severe panic' last night, it was a great display really amazing service and support (which I'm sure you are known for), a lifesaver in fact…the event was great and I was able to relax and enjoy - Many thanks  - Grenville". But that was more than 140 characters, and way better said with merely "Working Style you rock".

Grenville Main is managing director of customer experience design consultancy DNA, a rabid collector and proud owner of the most obscenely messy desk in each of DNA's offices