For a long time I subscribed the agency to the Harvard Business Review magazine. I happened to be reading some back issues and found one about high emotion services. The article had some interesting suggestions about questions such services should ask their customers. While the examples of such services ( birth, marriage, illness, death ) didn’t explicitly mention agencies like ours, the principle still applies, ie high emotion services may elicit intense feelings before any service may even begin. The reason for such feelings can be because there is a lack of familiarity with the service, a lack of control over the service’s performance, major consequences if things go wrong, complexity that gives the provider the upper hand and a long duration across a series of events.
So, some of the questions suggested to minimise customers anxiety include, what is our customers pre service impression of us? If our customers could make one improvement in our service what would it be? What could we do to make first impressions of our service exceptional? Can we demystify our service to relieve customers anxiety? What is the profile of our ideal employee? What skills and knowledge are critical to upholding our core purpose?
I believe we do have these reflections in the agency eg like designing the foyer in the new office, but it is useful to remind ourselves of the starting point a lot of our customers find themselves in and being empathic in responding accordingly. I was reminded of my casework experience ( pre industrial revolution ) when working with schools and families. A lot of the parents had very negative childhood school experiences, so expecting them to attend and participate at parent teacher meetings for example was for some a bridge too far. I’m sure this idea is not new to almost everyone but just as we can become blasé about our work space, so can we become forgetful of what it’s like for someone new.