Helen Walters On Best-In-Class Service

Helen Walters On Best-In-Class Service

Business innovation thought leader takes us through her favorite 5 retail experiences.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 14 april 2012

In our digitally infused world, more and more companies seem to opt for the click over the human touch. At PSFK, we believe that personal service still is critical in creating a differentiated service. To investigate this theme further, we’re running a series of interviews with experts. We asked Helen Walters to list us five great service experiences she cherishes. Helen is a respected thought-leader in the business innovation space and when we approached Helen she told us,

“I’ve never really enjoyed shopping, which is why I quickly embraced the Internet as a way to stock up on essentials without having to endure the misery of the high street. And, as more and more products have become commodities, so too have some companies done an incredible job of figuring out ever more ingenious ways to help me avoid actually having to interact with another human being.

What does all this mean for service professionals? Well, it means that the pressure is on. Shoddy service isn’t an option when the alternative is mere clicks away. That’s why I particularly love these stores. Something new and unexpected happens with each visit, yet each one is founded on principles of old-fashioned good service.”

Here are Helen’s five favorite examples of service:

Mary and Robinson’s Fruit Cart

“About twice a week, I treat myself to a fruit smoothie from Mary and Robinson, who park their food cart outside my office. They know my name and my preferred order, and the entire interaction is fun, friendly and fast. If the line is anything to go by, their commitment to the basics of good service has led to many other devoted regulars, too.”

“I’ve written about this before, but I still look back fondly at a group visit to Michelle Bernstein’s restaurant in Miami. From customizing the menus to not minding the vegetarian in our midst to preparing an unsolicited celebratory dessert (pictured), the restaurant’s attention to detail was phenomenal.”

Unnameable Books

“This bookstore is near my apartment, and every time I pop in I’m reminded of the gap between Internet-based companies using algorithms to try and generate unexpected recommendations and the actual serendipity of being in a shop packed to the rafters with books on all topics. I can’t leave this shop without buying way too many books I previously had no idea existed.”
Brooklyn Larder
“I walked in to this small deli the other day to be greeted rapturously by the woman behind the counter. “This,” she said to her colleague, “is a woman with very expensive taste in cheese.” This is true, and I love the fact that they know this, remember this, and enable my habit without so much as a hint of an apology.”
“I love Kiosk, a small store up some rickety stairs in the heart of SoHo. Themed according to a particular country, the stuff on sale is eclectic and unexpected, with each piece accompanied by a charmingly written explanation of what it is and why it’s interesting. Every visit provides a completely different experience, and I learn something new every time.” [img via]

Helen Walters is a writer and researcher at the design-driven innovation consultancy, Doblin. She also writes the daily blog, Thought You Should See This.

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