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StrategySep 06, 2016

How a Great Customer Experience Changed My Mind About Golf

Nate Raymond

I hate golf. With summer golf season in full swing, I’m reminded of how boring I find the game. Sure, the pleasure of navigating a pristine course, the fresh air, and time enjoyed with friends are all great. But for me, hitting a static ball toward a hole in the ground is a stale undertaking. Period. But I recently discovered Top Golf, and my outlook on golf has completely changed. Why? The experience.

For those who have never been, Top Golf is a golf entertainment complex where the competition of sport meets your favorite local hangout. You can challenge your friends and family to addictive point-scoring golf games that anyone can play. Just picture a 240-yard outfield with dartboard-like targets in the ground. The closer to the center or bull’s-eye you get, the more points you receive. And the whole time, the wait staff is bringing food and drinks to your “bay,” the tee box area. It’s an outstanding experience!

Providing customers with a great customer experience has become a target of virtually all companies, but remains elusive for many. The value of great customer experiences is well documented. A recent Harvard Business Review study found that transactional customers with the best customer experiences spent 140% more than those who had the poorest experience. With companies wanting to seize on such a lucrative opportunity, Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50% of all product investment will be directed toward customer experience innovations.

Delivering a great customer experience is a daunting challenge. Every individual is different and most desire a personalized customer experience tailored to their specific need. A great experience in an Apple store, for example, might look very different for a prospective customer looking to buy their first Apple Watch vs. an existing customer who wants to use their Apple Care Protection Plan. The former likely wants to be impressed with features, the latter wants to be re-assured that their coverage will be honored.

There is, however, one universal aspect of great customer experiences that provides consistent value, regardless of the service or product: convenience. During my last trip to Top Golf I made sure to take note of the variety of ways they have designed their business in order to provide their customers with three core principles of convenience:

  • Time savings

  • Effort reduction

  • Availability

Time Savings

As soon as I found a parking space at a nearby Top Golf, I was greeted by a Top Golf employee who offered to drive me the distance between my car and the Top Golf entrance. Shortly after arriving at my golf bay, a waiter arrived and asked if I would like anything to eat or drink. Instead of having to make my way to the dining area, he was able to take my order and returned shortly after with drinks and food, allowing me to focus on playing without interruption. In each instance, Top Golf had saved me time, which I re-invested into the enjoyment of their product.

Effort Reduction

While setting up my first shot on a piece of artificial turf in my bay, I took note of how efficiently I could replace a golf ball I had just hit (usually shanked) with a new ball. After waving my golf club in front of a sensor, a ball automatically dispensed from a container and rolled onto the artificial turf in front of me. Instead of having to fill up a ball bucket at a central ball dispenser and lug it back to my bay – a common process at most traditional driving ranges – I was able to replace my balls effortlessly.

Availability

Lastly, as I began to put away my clubs, I noticed ceiling fans and misters that were in each Top Golf bay. These key pieces of machinery allowed me to play on a hot Texas day with complete comfort and gave me a strong feeling of convenience; Top Golf would be available to me regardless of the weather.

Questions to Ask

These observations have been particularly valuable to me as a consultant with Credera where we are regularly working to solve companies’ toughest customer experience challenges. So if you begin asking yourself how to improve customer experience, please learn from my personal story about how I came to love golf and ask yourself these three primary questions:

  1. How can I deliver my product in a manner that saves my customers time?

  2. How can I reduce the effort required of my customers to consume my product?

  3. How can I make my product as available at any time?

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