This past weekend, my kids and I surprised my wife on her birthday by taking her on a guided tour of the remnants of a former castle that sits on an island in the Hudson River. It's something that she's been dropping hints about for a while and she greatly enjoyed the excursion. After the tour, we decided to grab lunch at a nearby restaurant and it was here that I was reminded why it's so important for customer-facing staff to be empowered to improve the customer experience and to create the kind of flexibility in customer-facing processes to make this possible.We chose a restaurant we've eaten at before that overlooks the river. Since the weather was summer-like, my wife wanted us to be seated outside on the terrace. After a 30-minute wait (which is what we were told to expect), we were seated at an outdoor table.
After being seated, we quickly discovered that our table umbrella wasn't set into a stand. As a result, the umbrella spun around continuously in the breeze, occasionally blinding those of us who were facing the sun.
As soon as my wife and I began trying to adjust the umbrella and prevent it from spinning, a restaurant worker sprung to our aid. He retrieved an umbrella stand and helped us to adjust the umbrella so that we were all shaded.
What cemented the experience is that the worker didn't stop there. A short while later after the sun had shifted, he positioned a second umbrella near us to deflect additional sunlight that began to sneak in.
On the surface, these were just little things that the restaurant worker did to improve our experience there. But by keeping an eye on us and responding quickly to our needs, his actions made such a big difference in our collective dining experience.
Company leaders also need to be sure to that flexibility is incorporated into the organization's customer experience strategy so that employees can be empowered to step in and help customers as the situation dictates. This also comes in handy when customers' behaviors, needs, and preferences change.