Let’s face it. Peter Cottontail , aka The Easter Bunny, wasn’t always the successful businessman that he is today. Back when Peter was a young Easter Bunny, trying to prove himself, his main job was to deliver as many eggs as he could on Easter morning. His main competitor, Irontail, was also trying to deliver as many eggs as he possibly could. And whoever delivered the most eggs on Easter morning would be given the title of Chief Easter Bunny.
Like all small businesses, Peter struggled to find ways to create a business success. And just because he was in the Easter Bunny business, his challenges were no different than other SMB’s. Peter still had to find ways to improve his sales, beat the competition, increase his customer base and come up with innovative ways to keep his customers year after year. After all, Easter only comes once a year.
Despite the challenges that small businesses face, Peter was able to create a thriving Easter egg business year after year. Children all over the world look forward to the day the Easter bunny comes. There is just something magical about hunting for the beautifully colored Easter eggs and stuffing ourselves full of chocolate and marshmallow candy.
What was Peter’s secret formula? Why, it’s none other than ensuring that customers are delighted each and every year during Easter time. Just thinking of the Easter bunny puts a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.
What is customer delight?
Let’s start off by saying what customer delight isn’t. It’s not just saying, “Thank you for your business. You come back now.” Or, “We are here to help you.” Or even, “Your business means a lot to us.” Because, seriously, all businesses should be saying that anyway.
Customers’ perceptions of service are based on how the experience matches their expectations:
- Satisfactory service occurs when expectations are met
- Delight occurs when service exceeds expectations
- A service failure occurs when a service falls short of expectations
For example, you take your car in for your service appointment. At the agreed upon time, the service man takes your keys and tells you to wait for 4 hours in the waiting room until your service completed. This happens as expected and so the service is satisfactory. Delight occurs when he tells you that a driver will take you to your office and come to pick you up from the office once the service is completed.
Customer delight is about the unexpected. It’s about surprising customers, in a positive way, with your level of customer service. According to an article written by Harvard Business Review, surprise can amplify whatever emotion you are experiencing and it is one of our most powerful marketing tools. Surprise can make or break your customer experience.
Satisfactory service in and of itself, is great and shouldn’t be discounted. It, along with the unexpected delightful moments, is what makes customer experiences unforgettable.
Below are 4 ideas on how you can create a WOW experience for your customers without costing you your shirt:
1. Provide awesomeness every step of the way
If you’re a woman, finding just the right pair of shoes can be quite a challenge. More times than not, it’s difficult to find the right fit, the right color and the right style. I find myself wandering from store to store trying on endless pairs of shoes with no solution in sight. How often is it that I have wished that I could design my own shoe in the color that I wanted with the style that I wanted? Enter – Shoes of Prey.
On the Shoes of Prey website, you can basically design and create your own shoe to fit any dress or occasion. You can choose the shape, the color and the height of the shoe. If you need help with a shoe, they have a consultant who will help you design the right pair of shoes for your foot. Their return policy is amazing.
It doesn’t take a lot to create awesomeness in the customer experience. What it really takes is the time to put yourself in the customer’s shoes (no pun intended) and seeing things from her point of view.
Here’s an example of what a delighted customer said:
And this is how a customer shared her delight with the world:
2. Make room for little surprises
Surprise has the ability to make every customer experience that much better or make everything worse.
A surprise can be a handwritten welcome note and a fruit basket when you walk into your hotel room. Or, that the store manager personally followed up with you on the status of your order because she knew how important it was to you.
And, we must note that nice surprises don’t have to come in big packages. Starbuck’s forgot to make Christine W.’s order. And, instead of just saying, “Oops. Sorry.”, they attached a free drink coupon to make amends.
3. Put people first
Customer relationships are a people business. This has to do with how you treat your customers, listen to their feedback, deliver on your promises and in the way that you communicate with them. The people business always has to do with emotions too. We all like to be patted on the back and recognized for our accomplishments, as well as the fact that we like to be heard when things aren’t going right. This requires employees to be patient with customers and understand human nature.
Jay Baer experienced first-hand how Southwest Airlines understood the people business. On the way back from a speaking engagement in Ft. Lauderdale, Jay looked up from his laptop to find Becky the flight attendant standing at the front of the plane with a boy of about 9, named Abraham.
Jay reported that Abraham was BEAMING with pride and accomplishment and happiness and honor. Becky had broken out a medical kit, opened up a band-aid and used it to tape the picture on the wall. A few minutes later, Abraham came back with another picture and Becky made the announcement again and taped his second picture up on the wall.
This random act of kindness has no doubt been told more than a dozen times and spread across numerous social networks. It brought a warm and fuzzy feeling to my heart when I read this and I’m sure that it will do the same for yours. Actions such as these spur word of mouth advertising and build loyalty which in turns creates awareness for your own business.
In fact, in a survey done by Nielsen, 84% of people said that they trust recommendations from people they know more than any other type of advertising.
4. Add the personal touch to your service
It’s quite common in today’s technology run world to lose the personal touch. If you need help from your bank or your telecom company, you more often than not, come to an automated answering service. Handwritten notes are a thing of the past as e-mail has taken its place. Customer service representatives read canned responses to customers’ most frequently asked questions. All of this is done in the name of efficiency. But, perhaps, it’s time to bring back the personal touch.
Netflix wasn’t afraid to inject a little personality into their customer service. In 2013, Venture Beat reported that a Netflix customer named Norm contacted the company about a problem that he was having with an episode of Parks and Rec. In the middle of the episode, the video player got stuck in a “temporal loop” that continuously played the last three seconds.
Netflix service rep Michael responded by introducing himself as the “Captain Mike of the good ship Netflix” and then asked which member of the crew he was speaking with. Lieutenant “Norm” responded as if he was a ranking Star Fleet officer from Star Trek. By taking the time to inject some personality into his response, Captain Mike raised the bar for awesome customer service.
If you take a look at all four ideas, none of these required a lot of money or a very long, implementation process. What each example shows is that small gestures, kindnesses and understanding are what bring about customer wows.
Remember that the foundation of great customer relationships is people. Each customer has a face. Each customer has a story and each one has feelings. Put yourself in that person’s shoes. Imagine how you would feel if you were him/ her and imagine how you would like to be treated. Then, add another 20% personal effort on top. Now, you’ve delighted the customer!
Feel free to share your stories of customer delight below. I’d love to hear from you.