Customer experience is more than just a hot steak


Bite of steak on a forkThere’s a restaurant here in Raleigh called the Angus Barn.  It’s one of my favorite places to eat and unwind after work. They’ve got top-notch steak and quality cold beer, but what really sets the place apart is the customer experience they provide.

There’s a cigar room in the back called the “Meat Locker.” To get there from the front entrance you have to walk through the kitchen and back hallways of the main restaurant.  It’s like walking through a maze, so half the fun is getting there. You can imagine the delicious aromas the kitchen provides. I’ve been there enough times that I could find my own way through, but each time I arrive, an attendant from the restaurant appears to personally escort me.

What happens next still amazes me.  Every employee I walk by stops what they’re doing, smiles and says, “have a nice dinner,” “enjoy your evening,” or “thank you for being here.” It’s clear they’re all customer driven.  No matter what their job is, they understand how they impact the customer experience, and it keeps me coming back.

What does steak have to do with a software company?  Well, at SAS, we’re customer driven too.  For nearly 40 years, it’s been in the fabric of our culture: We put the customer at the center of our universe. When we make decisions — be it solution offerings or hiring new employees — it’s through the lens of our customers’ point of view.

I’m often asked how SAS continues to build on this cornerstone of our culture.

Here are my top three answers:

  1. Don’t just hear your customers, really listen.  Strive to understand their wants, their needs and their challenges. What help do they need from you? Understand how customers want to interact with you and with their own customers.  That’s what drives business decisions.
  2. Be honest about the help you can provide. This means not automatically saying yes to everything just to satisfy an immediate ask.  This is a tough one, because we want to make our customers happy, but more importantly, we need to offer ideas and do the right things to make them successful in the long run.
  3. Have the right assets in place to aid your customers.  People, processes and technology come to mind.  I love telling folks about our amazing customer contact center, technical support team and newly launched @SAS_Cares social media support team on Twitter.

Much like the staff at Angus Barn, I tell my teams to be out front and ready. We’re all in this together – we all have a role to play in providing a world-class customer experience.


About Author

Fritz Lehman

Executive Vice President & Chief Customer Officer

Fritz Lehman is passionate about customer care. As Chief Customer Officer, he leads a division of more than 2,000 employees dedicated to ensuring customer satisfaction and providing seamless customer support. Topics that interest him include excellence in leadership, fostering trust and building great teams.

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