There are many ways to increase the quality and value of your business’s customer service, including both direct and indirect strategies. Direct strategies include actions you take to directly improve the customer experience, such as offering compensation for guests who have had a bad experience, or training your customer service team to handle irate customers in different ways.
Indirect strategies, on the other hand, focus on environmental or incidental changes that could have an impact on a customer’s overall satisfaction with service. For example, one of the most underutilized indirect strategies in customer service is your interior design: how your office, restaurant, waiting area, or other physical space is designed to improve customer satisfaction.
How design improves customer satisfaction
These are just some of the ways your location can improve customer satisfaction with a handful of design tweaks:
Comfort. A comfortable customer is going to be a happier customer. If they start out neutral, a comfortable environment can make them feel positive. If they’re angry, it can help them calm down. There are many ways to increase comfort, which vary by the type of customer you’re trying to serve and your type of business. For example, dental offices can appeal to parents by offering a kid-friendly play area, and restaurants can appeal to waiting patrons by offering luxurious couches instead of barstools.
Value. You also need to consider what type of value (and how much value) you’re offering your customers in your main areas. For example, does your waiting room have available, free Wi-Fi so customers can work while they’re waiting to be seen? Does your restaurant have available menus or something to keep people busy while they wait to be seated?
Navigation. Most customers who want service want it as fast as possible. This is a high demand for most organizations, who have limited human resources and peaks and valleys in customer volume. You can address this problem at least slightly—and make customers feel more comfortable at the same time—by introducing a navigable layout. Make it clear where customers are supposed to go and when; for example, instead of a single roped-off maze of customers waiting in line, consider segmenting your service desks by type of customer query, or introduce multiple waiting rooms for different stages of the waiting process.
Memorability. While the memorability of your location may not directly impact a customer’s experience, it will accentuate the experience they’re already having. For example, if they have a positive experience, and the environment is both unique and aesthetically pleasing, they’re likely to remember that positive event for longer—and may even remember it as being more positive than it actually was. Make sure your layout, color schemes, and decorations are both in-brand and distinguished from the competition.
Employee satisfaction. Don’t forget that your office’s design will also have a psychological effect on your staff. Customer service reps who feel less stressed and more comfortable are going to be calmer, with higher morale, and of course, higher productivity. Giving your staff comfortable, ergonomic chairs, and a view to natural scenery (even if it’s just a handful of office plants) can make the difference—especially on high-volume or high-stress days.
Obviously, not all businesses will be able to afford a dramatic renovation to their waiting areas, offices, or customer support centers, but you don’t need to invest in an overhaul to make a significant difference in your customers’ experiences. Something as simple as adding a plant, sprucing up the furniture, or even adding a fresh coat of paint can go a long way in increasing satisfaction.
Aim to take measurements of your customer service success before and after your changes; if there’s a positive jump, and it’s significant enough, you might be able to justify an even bigger, more noticeable investment.