Explore Industries WINERIES & AVAs | NON PROFITS | CONSUMER PACKAGED GOODS | RETAIL
I had just returned from an incredible trip to Guatemala for our client, Barefoot College. This required flights from California to Mexico to Guatemala back to Mexico and finally, back to California. I then continued on to Portland, Oregon. Each of those international flights and subsequent customs experiences was civilized.
Well, almost all of all of the customs experiences. Not so in coming
home to the United States. Coming into the terminal, my fellow
travellers and I shuffled down a dingy hallway and away from daylight
and domestic passengers. Customs agents herded us down a long hallway to
a series of machines.
This machine spat out my picture (admittedly, scowling by this point)
and pointed me to another long hallway below the airport to an agent.
He barked questions that I had just answered, undoubtedly looking for me
to trip up and provide inconsistent answers. Thankfully, I got them all
right and was dumped out back in front of the maze again, to go back
through security so I could continue on to Oregon. They deemed me safe
enough to enter the country but not to travel about it.
When they finished scanning my body and my bag, the system dumped me
out of line again, this time to figure out where I was, what time it was
and where I needed to be to board my next flight. This was my welcome
home as a lifelong U.S. citizen.
Forget politics for a moment. Can we agree this comes down to trust?
And trust goes hand-in-hand with fear. It matters little how friendly
the agents may or may not have tried to be (nondescript in this
scenario), the system made my value as a person clear; nada, zip,
As I often ask in my coaching sessions, “Why am I talking about this
in a business workshop?” or in this case, a blog. This example shows how
a system or a process, can shape how a customer feels while
experiencing your company or product. Lots of effort goes into hiring
the right customer service agents, but it’s for nought if the system
itself (signage, line design, robots) tells a whole other story.
The system told me that the organization doesn’t trust me and is
scared of me. And as a result they want me to also feel scared, to even
All this to ask you… What do your customer-facing systems say about
your company? What do you want people to feel about you and what are you
saying about how welcome they are to take part in all the products you
have to offer? The unsaid is often the most powerful form of
communication for your company and brand.