Great Customer Service or Great Craft?
If you were to go out and buy a new piece of furniture, would you prefer a store that offered a great product and treated you poorly or a store that provided a great shopping experience, but poorly made furniture? The answer is of course that you would want both a great experience and great furniture, yet too often in the service industry our love of our craft blinds us to what our customer experience truly is.
Seen on a simple spectrum, furniture can be poor, average or excellent in terms of quality, yet the experience of owning an average or excellent piece of furniture is not terribly different. A chest-of-drawers that holds your clothes, works just as well for you as a chest-of-drawers strong enough to hold gold or lead bars. Not many of us have large quantities of heavy metal that we need to sock away, after all!
Despite these diminishing returns on quality in craft, why is the practice of over-engineering or "gold-plating" so common? The answer is simple: craftspeople love what they do.
By comparison, seen on the same spectrum (poor, average, excellent), an excellent experience almost never goes unnoticed. The little things, offering a guest coffee or water, sending thank you notes, etc. - all of these things matter to the people experiencing them. On the flip side a poor experience also never goes unnoticed.
The true irony here in comparison the quality of a product or service, and the quality of the overall experience by a customer is that working to create an excellent experience improves the perception of quality of the product or service more effectively that focusing on the product alone. Food presented in a fancy restaurant tastes better, furniture shown in a showroom with great lighting and music looks higher quality.
At the end of the day quality of craft matters. Feeling good about what you have made or what you do brings satisfaction and pride to workers and helps to build a great long-term reputation. Yet for craftspeople who are conscious of the people buying their goods, even a little more focus on the overall experience can take their craft to a whole other level.