I grew up in rural Minnesota to two parents who both were raised on a farm. Both were raised to work hard. Both were raised with very little in the way of material possessions. Around our house growing up they instilled a common theme in our home that my sisters and I learned well.
In life, what really matters are the little things.
It wasn’t an easy life growing up in far rural Minnesota for my sisters and I. However, my parents still gave us a great childhood and with that mantra embedded in us, we learned to appreciate the simplicity of the country that creates a great experience that can’t be replicated. So much of the world is consumed in the big and impressive that we miss out on the little moments that add up and truly leave an impression.
Customer experience and luxuries
When you think of customer experience you maybe think of spas and luxuries. Mints on pillows or men in suits who place your dinner napkin on your lap for you when you sit down.
Earlier this year I traveled to Miami for business and stayed at a luxury resort. (Not by choice, it was where the event was held and we had to stay on site as there was nothing else near by). The resort was under construction and the experience was horrendous. Surrounded by the luxuries that have become aligned with great customer moments, we were treated like we were a burden to be there for the four days of our event. This isn’t a diatribe about the resort so I won’t list off the problems with the experience. My point here is to illuminate that great experiences aren’t inextricably linked to luxury.
Customer experience meets the aha moment
During that same trip, I walked across the street to a Carolina Ale House to sample a pint of a local craft brew. The place was packed and a hostess wasn’t near by. We grabbed a table outside and waited, and waited. No menus or water came. A gal at the table next to us noticed us and came over.
“Have you been helped?” She said in a thick southern drawl.
“No.” we said. She scampered into the restaurant and returned with menus.
“Jack will be out in a second,” she said.
“Thanks!” we followed.
She told us she worked at the Ale House and was in having a pint as well on her day off and how she hated to see people not getting served.
Here we were at a chain restaurant with every day people across the street from the Porsche’s, Lamborghini’s and Bentley’s and we were getting a better experience.
Creating insanely great experiences
The difference between the luxury resort and the ale house wasn’t the amount of money poured into the venue. Brands that are winning understand what the former CIO of Dell once said, that “the customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” This isn’t to say that luxury brands aren’t good at the little things. This is to say that when it comes to experience, it’s a level playing field because it’s not a battle of cash outlay. Customer experience comes in a variety of forms.
Apple became a master of packaging their products. Unwrapping a new apple device is an experience and one that’s designed to delight and create a moment for Apple fans. It’s so vital to Apple’s overall strategy that they have a dedicated box opener on staff just to make sure they get the experience just right.
Creating a culture that goes the extra mile for service truly can be a competitive advantage. Look at Amazon and Zappos. Both brands have built themselves around experiences that deliver great service. What about a grocery store that will help a snowed in WWII vet get his groceries or a steakhouse surprising a flight passenger as he gets off the plane with a steak because of his tweet? Here’s 11 examples of great customer service.
Software Easter Eggs
What about the software we use every day? Besides working and being easy to use can there be little things hidden in it that makes us smile and become evangelists of the tools we can’t get through the day without? Sure there are. Some are very popular and useful for managing business, for example Advance Systems inc tools. Others called easter eggs, and software developers hide them in everything from video games to internet browsers. Here’s 10 easter eggs you can check out today.
Other hidden treasures
There are lots of other things brands do to set themselves apart and create great customer experiences while trying to win the battle. Often times, it’s little things as simple as a heart sticker on a package received from Fab or the first card in a package of new business cards from Moo.com.
Customer Experience Across Channels
Customer experience doesn’t live in a vacuum either. A focus on the little things becomes cultural. Going the extra mile is part of your marketing mantra and thus should be part of your entire organization’s DNA. To be truly effective, both the left hand and the right hand have to be committed to creating great experiences.
What other ways has your organization or other brands you’ve seen been creating great experiences? Leave a reply below with your story.