Note: I changed the title of the blog entry after I realized where I was going with it. It's fun to do this on the fly sometimes! Apologies in advance for any confusion.
I took the elevator with the other jurors to get to the 4th floor (or was it 5th? Doesn't matter.) to walk to one of the courtrooms. We were silent, but in a generally good mood, smiling to each other and being polite and warm. I mean, the initial experiences were pretty good - so I was curious how this was going to go.
- It always starts well when the bathroom is easy to find. One step off the elevator and there it was! Convenient. I was loving how this courthouse was designed - it was just easy to navigate.
- There were a number of chairs, benches and sofas outside the courtroom so most of us could sit down. I can't tell you how many times I have waited outside a courtroom, standing or leaning against a wall. Again, I felt like they wanted me there, offering me a place to sit and rest. I'm sure the chairs come in handy while people are mulling around waiting for a trial, but it is definitely convenient for jurors.
- Once inside the courtroom - the attorneys made us feel comfortable. Go figure, right? I'll admit - it is stressful to be questioned by an attorney to be selected for a jury. They told us what we should expect, asked us questions, and got us engaged in conversation to get us relaxed. They even joked around with us. I don't remember attorneys joking with me in Massachusetts or California.
- The attorneys didn't make anyone feel bad about their beliefs or convictions that may have prevented them from participating in a jury. They appreciated the honesty and participation. In all honesty, if there are jurors feeling awkward about making certain decisions, that would hurt the outcome of the trial - so it really is in the best interest of the attorneys to weed out those who may have personal challenges with making particular judgements. Just being in a courtroom and serving could make someone feel obligated to participate - when in fact, the person isn't qualified based on his beliefs. These attorneys did a great job making everyone feel comfortable to express their true beliefs, trusting that we were all telling the truth and not trying to just weasel out of service.
- Jury selection was done in 1.5 hours - super quick! Each side had 30 minutes to ask questions and 20 minutes to make decisions as to who to select. I have sat in jury panels for hours to get through jury selection - including lunch and other breaks - in California. This was efficient and effective.
- We had an educational moment - the judge shared his opinion about the courts, the jury system and why it is so important. He admitted that he didn't like that many of us had the perspective that there are too many lawsuits. His opinion was that lawsuits help us fight for our rights. I never saw it that way. And I'm sure other jurors didn't either. I then understood why people enter the legal profession and why they see it as important. Personally, I still think there are too many lawsuits, but at least now I get why people will take a dispute to court.
It was definitely an interesting day.
But to sum it up - what makes a great customer experience? Respect for your buyer.
When I was at jury duty, I could be considered to be a buyer - I had to buy-in to the concept of participating in a jury.
Here 10 things I learned from my experience for how to respect my buyers that I plan to use when creating customer experiences in the future.
- Respect people's time. Don't have them sitting around waiting idly for hours just because you know they can't do anything else until you give the next order. People have other things to do besides waiting for you to get your act together. (1.5 hour jury selection vs 5+ hour selection...which would you rather experience?)
- Trust your buyers. Take what they say at face value. Sure, they may have a secret motive to get out of paying something (or jury service), but trust that they aren't. Most likely, they only have a point of view different from yours.
- Make sure buyers are participants in the process - not there to "serve." I wasn't there to just do what I was told, when I was told. That's a shift in thinking that makes a world of difference in how you treat your buyer (or juror). I felt like I was part of the court that day. We were all on the same team to get something done - so we all tried to do things as efficiently and effectively as possible.
- Buyers need to feel welcome. Sure, you need buyers to buy from you. They know that - but they don't need to be reminded of that. They are people too and want to be respected for what they are bringing to the table. Be a great host - offer a great environment for those buyers and don't have them worry about the logistical details. Offer convenient parking, easy directions, sofas - you get it.
- They need to understand why you do what you do. At jury duty, they took the time to explain everything to us so we could better understand the purpose of what we were doing and not see the activities as futile. Knowing that there was a "method to the madness" allowed everyone to buy-in the ideas and go along with the group.
- Humor and happiness is key. Humor disarms people and gets them to relax in a tense situation. And it makes the vibe light and airy - just more fun. Those attorneys definitely got us to open up - and got a better jury panel because of it. The happy, welcoming staff got everyone to relax - and made us feel just more at ease. It made for a nice, memorable day that we will share with others.
- Get your buyers relaxed. This comes from being transparent about your process. Let your buyers know what to expect and it builds confidence in them that you are not wasting their time. Overview videos like I saw when I came in to jury duty help with that.
- Add an education component into the experience to make it memorable. If you look back at any shopping experience you had, the best experiences included an education component. You learned why a particular product was better or worse, about a service a business offered that would help you, or something that would benefit you personally. By learning how the judge viewed the judiciary process - I got something out of the experience and it changed my worldview. That's powerful.
- Encourage your staff to interact with your buyers. No one is too important or busy not to take a few minutes to make a buyer feel important and special - even a judge. It's about being a good host and making people feel welcome. They are there to work with you - just like your team/employees.
- Technology is your friend - use it. In the early days of the Web, I used to hear how people didn't "get" it. That was understandable then - most people only got online at work, where there was an Internet connection (heck, I remember dial-up). But today, EVERYONE is online. Most people have a phone, a tablet (in fact, more people are using tables in place of a home computer) or a computer that has better Internet connections than some offices. You can make your customer experience that much better by integrating mobile and Web to take care of those paperwork/detail activities that are time-sucks. Why have people complete a paper form when you can have them go online and fill-out (or update) an electronic form that delivers the data to your Excel file? It's a win all the way around.
I'm still amazed at how the Dallas court system operates and has such a great customer experience. And from my perspective, they are using such a simple overarching approach and theme - respect the juror.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Feel free to comment!