What is the Service Outcome after the Outcome?

The outcome in grocery shopping is to get the groceries desired as conveniently as possible.  But, that is not the final memory the customer has of the grocery store experience.  Ever gotten home and discovered two eggs were cracked?  Or have a bloody cut of meat soil the birthday card you bought to send to Aunt Molly?  Too often the grocery store is in the mix of negative thoughts associated with the “outcome after the outcome.”

Considering the “outcome beyond the outcome” means thinking about what the customer will be doing with the service or outcome after you have done what the customer expected.  Nordstrom is famous for pursuing the “outcome after the outcome” effect.  “We try to guess what is beyond our customers’ purchase,” says John McClesky of the men’s suits department at their Dallas store.  “If a customer buys a sports jacket, the obvious extension might be slacks or a tie.  But if you learn the customer is buying the jacket for a cruise, you might explore dressy shorts, an ascot, or a Panama hat.”  John continues:  “But, slipping a complimentary set of collar stays in the newly purchased jacket pocket (a frequently forgotten item on a trip) can leave a customer absolutely awed.”

Play out in your mind the possibilities of what customers will be doing, thinking, and feeling after you have met their presented need.  Instead of asking, “Would there be anything else?” ask, “What have we not thought of that would make your hotel stay really special?”   Make your queries reach into the future and the customer will provide you clues ripe for imaginative service.




About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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