Japan spoils you. It provides you with the amazing experiences of service at convenience stores, railway offices, restaurants; well everywhere. I have had the luxury to live in Japan for over 4 years and it has completely changed my perspective of how businesses and customers interact with each other. I am not just talking about the big players like NTT, Softbank, 7 Eleven or Japan Railways, I also talk about the local Mom and Pop stores like that ramen place down the street or the shop that sells stationery goods in a shopping district in front of the train station or that sweet lady who runs her own cute little coffee shop. Every interaction of service with them amazes you and always put a smile on your face.
Honestly, before I left India for Japan in 2011, the quality of service wasn’t something of a priority for the businesses here. Customers will not expect to be talked to politely, let alone solving their issues smoothly. A lot of waiting time and redirects to different desks and what not! In my opinion, bureaucracy and lack of motivation within an organization restrained the employees to do great in their work. But I think it was just a vicious circle. The customers also never treated the employees on the other side of the service which discouraged them to make any efforts to treat the customer with the quality of the service they deserved.
I am lucky to be back now in India when the underlying idea of businesses having evolved astoundingly in the last couple of years. There has been a lot of focus on the quality of service provided by big companies such as HDFC, OLA, Dreamtel. Businesses like theirs have realized that the quality of the service is crucial beyond articulation and has helped them get repeated customers.
My personal experiences with HDFC Bank’s services have been very positive. No matter how complicated my problems were, the people at the bank had the patience to listen & deal with my issues and the wisdom to resolve them appropriately. I have turned down offers from many banks because of HDFC Bank’s amazing service. I trust HDFC Bank with my banking requirements.
I have also had some of the most welcoming and comforting experiences at the local places in Amritsar.
and so on.
Service is what makes the customers come back to you for more, or get you more business because of one happy customer spreading their experience of the service received from you. Service can differentiate your business from your competitors.
Coming from a tech background, I realized that we have already been focused on the quality of service since long. All the AAS types of businesses are essential services. SAAS (Software as a Service), PAAS (Platform as a Service), IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service).
I think it is essential to coin this term (well, it has been talked about a little before, but I am trying to cement it) for non-tech businesses, like for my new venture, City On Pedals – Guide Bicycle Tours.
I want to discuss Experience as a Service or EAAS.
Well, consider the last time you were promised something like
Madame, I will get back to you in 10 min with your booking details
Apologies for the mistake, sir. Please allow me to fix this for you and get your package delivered later in the evening
Did they fulfil their promise? Could they make you feel you can trust them?
Did you have a good experience with them and would you recommend them to your friends?
EAAS is not just for big corporates or sectors like Banks or Retail. It is also important, well, in my opinion, it is extremely important for small businesses and startups. As they begin their entrepreneurial journey when no one knows them and their product still in the nascent stage, most probably imperfect, how would they thrive with all these odds against them?
It’s the Service. The Quality of Service.
It’s the Experience of the Service.
If a small business provides a good experience to the customer as part of their service, they gain the customer’s trust. If they gain the customer’s trust, they got the customer.
You need to push the boundaries of your own expectations from a business like yours. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and expect more, a lot more. Does your business support your requirements now?
Many businesses just tend to stay within their comfort zone. The founders and the teams working extremely hard, but unfortunately, neglect the wholesome experience of the service. As small businesses or startups, we need to think about how to improve the before and the after of my services too.
For my business research for our bicycle tours, I also went through hundreds of reviews of various hotels on TripAdvisor. I found that happiest customers were the ones who were helped by the hotel reception or staff in arranging for them cabs or local tours etc. That could have been before, during or after their stay the hotel.
These are not part of the hotel offerings, but the hotels figured out that this creates a great experience for their guests.
If I provide a good experience of the Amritsar Village Life with my bicycle tours to the travellers but it is extremely difficult for my customers to reach the starting place of the tour, there will be a missed opportunity to make my customers happy.
But if I help my customer figure out the transportation for both before & after my tour of that remote village, I have now provided a great overall experience.
They are going to remember me not just for my bicycle tour, but also for my help in arranging transportation for them and are highly likely to recommend my tours to their friends and families.
I just helped them with something that wasn’t part of my tour offering.
Well, actually, it should be part of my tour offering.
And this is the key to great Experience as a Service.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How are they interacting with you? What do they do before they experience your service or after they have enjoyed your service? Look into how you can make their life easy. Now figure out how you can provide an unforgettable overall Experience as a Service.
While I was doing my research about the local hotels and their services, I came across a very common concern of the hotel managers. Although some of the hotels which are extremely famous for their hospitality and comfortable stay, there was a disconnect between the offerings of the hotels and the great experience their guests had in the city, outside their hotel.
Amritsar is a very popular travel destination in the world. The presence of the holy Golden Temple and the Wagah border makes our city a must destination for travellers. And of course, the amazing food of Amritsar.
The guests usually did not connect the experience of the city outside the hotel with the experience of the hotel service. The guests will have a great stay at the hotel, but they will always go out to eat the amazing food at Kesar or Charming Chicken and visit places like the local phulkari or a Punjabi Jutti store.
My research from the reviews and the discussions with the hotel managers highlighted an opportunity for us where we can help the hotels add these experience of the city to the experience that the hotel offers.
City On Pedals bridges the gap between those disconnected experiences of the hotel’s guests. We consider ourselves as partners with the hotels. We provide the guests with a lifetime experience of the city by taking them on a memorable ride deep inside the narrow bylanes & streets of the centuries-old city and help them explore the hidden gems, devour world famous street food & peep into the lifestyle and traditions of the locals on our bicycles. The guests get the chance to experience those corners of the city which are otherwise inaccessible or would remain unknown.
Our partner hotels offer our guided bicycle tours as their own service, thus enriching the experience of their guests who sometimes find it hard to figure out how to get the best of the city during their stay. We make it seamless for their guests to get the details of the tours and reserve their rides with us at our partner hotels.
Check out our Instagram page for the vibrant experiences that Amritsar has to offer.
Apart from the hotels, we have also partnered with various local communities to increase the portfolio of our travellers’ experiences. We have with us onboard the local jewellery makers, street food vendors, families living in century-old houses, world-famous kitchens, dairy stores etc. Remember all the welcoming and comforting experiences from above? We are proud to provide these unique blends of traditional and modern experiences to travellers from all over the world with our bicycle tours in Amritsar.
When the travellers check-out, they are leaving with a smile along with unforgettable memories, a satisfied wanderlust and many stories wanting to be shared with their friends and families.