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Delivering "wow" customer experience in a techie world




These days nothing goes viral more quickly than an experience with a business that made you feel heard, special, or just plain human. In our hyper-digital world, we’re all aching a little bit for human connection. And more and more businesses are going old school to deliver that “wow” experience with techniques that don’t require any tech at all.

All they really require is a bit of thoughtfulness, and obsessive consistency. Here’s my back-of-the-napkin game plan for how your small business can outperform the big guys by integrating a human touch.

Decide what you want to be, and be it (unapologetically)


Consistent (and profitable) "wow" customer experiences don’t just happen. They are deliberate. Think about Trader Joe’s grocery stores. They have those bells at the check-out stands because they don’t want anyone to wait in line as long as there are employees in the store. It’s simple, but how happy does that make you? Not to mention the fact that I’ve never, ever come across a checkout clerk who wasn’t happy to be there.

Trader Joe’s was deliberate—they knew what kind of store they wanted to be, and they stick to that brand unapologetically. They hire against it, train against it, and deliver it in all aspects of their store experience.

Have you and your team decided what you want your business to be, what you want to stand for? If not, carve out a couple of days with a white board and do it. What values are most important to you? And what is the experience that embodies these values? Name it.

Build it


Wow customer experiences don't just happen. They are built in to the internal culture of an organization—from the goals you set, to the training front line staff receive. But this is often where intentions fall flat. I suggest making a simple chart or map of your customer’s buyer journey. Name each touchpoint your customers have with you, then list the experience you want them to have every single time, and what your team needs to be able to deliver it. This is how you build “wow” from the ground up.

Unpack your organizational structure as a team. Pinpoint roadblocks that might be keeping you from delivering a "wow" customer experience consistently. It might be training, time constraints, or a lack of tools to improve efficiency.

Listen


Think about your “worst service ever” story. I would wager that 8 out of 10 of these experiences could have been transformed if someone just listened and empathized with you. Think about your own interactions with customers. How prepared are you to listen, empathize and hear the needs behind what the customer is saying or doing? What could training in this area do to improve your team's ability to create a wow customer experience every time?

Better yet, walk your talk—start by listening to your frontline staff on a consistent basis. I’ve had amazing results when I helped staff create methods to consistently empower frontline staff to name, and solve common customer complaints or challenges collaboratively. Would setting up a similar forum in your business help you deliver an exceptional experience?

Deliver surprises


Everyone likes surprises, right? Surprises are the ultimate depiction of the concept, “undersell and over-deliver.”

Wow customer experiences are not about receiving what you paid for. What you paid for is the bare minimum.

When I go to my favorite restaurant, I expect a great meal, excellent service, great local wine and an atmosphere that mellows me as soon as I walk in the door. What makes a meal a “wow,” might be that unexpected dish that’s on the specials menu, or the perfect wine recommendation from my waiter. That surprise I didn’t anticipate.

How can you deliver surprises to your customers? Remember, sometimes the most simple solutions are the most memorable because they offer a human touch.

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