A Key To Customer Happiness – Do The Unexpected

Mail vs. Email

How often do we find that ‘business as usual’ tactics desensitize the customer and takes away from their over-all experience? A novel idea that seemed great at first blush, soon wears out its welcome and becomes a negative experience. With the amount of competition increasing, practices like this need to be changed. Consumers are expecting more – not only in their products, but in their experiences.

Increasing Customer Experience

Below are some examples from my own observations, and how they win – or fail.

  • Reminder Cards: Creating personalized reminder cards for  important events. Mailing these out are great, because as illustrated above – no one gets good mail anymore, just bills and flyers. On the flip-side, while email is still impersonal and lazy, it can still be used effectively. Out of the possibly hundreds of companies that have my personal information only FIVE sent me a birthday email with a special offer. You can bet I remembered which five they were, and while I haven’t used their services in a while, that added touch has me swayed to try their services/products again.
  • Customer Service Professionals: Almost everyone has heard the story of Zappo’s, or at least the rave reviews on Tony Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness‘. Yet in spite of success stories like this, companies are still outsourcing customer service to save money, or routinely hire people who are disengaged. If customer satisfaction is really that important to companies, then why do they keep showing us that they dont care by providing horrendous automated services, mind numbing phone tree’s, and employees who read off a sheet or generally dont care? You’ll be amazed at how simple acts can create brand advocates. Don’t believe me? Check out this Harvard Business Review blogpost on exactly that.
  • Lip Service: Last but not least is lip service. Nothing is worse than a company that uses boring business speak, saying what they think customers want to hear – and then even worse … not living up to it. The local movie theatre near me was bought out by a bigger chain a few years back. I’m giving it away with this, but the new slogan is ‘Movie Going How It Used To Be – Only Better’. This brings up visions of an ushers wearing a bellhop type outfit with that little hat, showing you to a seat, walking around with flashlight to keep the peace, and just an overall high quality customer experience. Here is the problem – nothing has changed since this theatre was bought. In return, I have zero loyalty to the theatre. With rising ticket prices my theatre going has continued to drop because there is no added-bonus to make me want to go back. If you promise a great experience, you better deliver upon it.
These are just a few examples, but there are countless others out there. What business practices do you run into that detract from your experience – and how can they be made better?