You are at a fast food restaurant and step into the restroom. There is water on the floor and countertops. The toilet roll dispensers are empty and the trash container is overflowing. Wouldn’t you start worrying about the food you were about to order?

Every detail of your business’ physical environment “speaks” to the customer. Everything your customer sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches gives an impression to the customer, typically, before they even meet or talk to any of your employees. What is the message you want your environment to give?

Most organizations pay attention to the big things, but forget about the little details that add up to create the customer experience. I’ve seen businesses spend millions of dollars building state-of-the-art facilities, yet ignore little things such as, paperwork strewn on countertops, scattered empty boxes, scotch-taped employee reminder signs, and burned out light bulbs. Customers will not note every detail; but recognize, an impression has been made. And it may affect whether that customer will continue to do business with you. They may not even consciously know why they choose not to go back, they just have a certain feeling.

A friend recently described her visit to a recommended physician. It started by them having difficulty finding a parking spot, then they couldn’t decipher from the signage where the actual office was located. Finally, they walked into the reception/waiting area and it was room temperature, as if, the air conditioner wasn’t working. The receptionist was quite pleasant and friendly, but as they were waiting they couldn’t help notice the stains in the ceiling tiles, the wilted plant in the corner, and the outdated magazines. Even though this physician had been recommended, they started to wonder if the office was handling the little things like this, how would the big things (their health) be handled?” Overall, this customer experience was marred not by the employees, but by the environment.

It is important to engage the employees’ assistance in keeping up the environment and becoming aware of any negative distractions. Here are a few recommended actions:

Start by having each employee walk through the business looking through the lens of the customer.

Create a checklist to have employees record on a daily basis if elements in the area are satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Identify the action the employee is to take if a negative element is discovered; such as, call maintenance or handle the problem themselves.

If the above actions are followed through on a consistent basis, the Everything Speaks mindset becomes part of the business culture. Employees no longer think of picking up a piece of trash or straightening the brochure rack – it just becomes part of the natural way in which they do their jobs.

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