Everyone wants to WOW their customers. They think that customer delight comes from going above-and-beyond or delivering an over-the-top customer service experience.
I’ve always preached that the most amazing companies will occasionally deliver the above-and-beyond customer experience. But it is usually isolated incidents when a customer’s expectations are exceeded, when an employee properly handles a problem or complaint.
So, what about the rest of the time? Those amazing companies aren’t amazing because of the way they handle problems. They are amazing because day-in and day-out they are consistently and predictably above average. Just a little above average, all-of-the time, and that is why their customers say, “That company is amazing!”
Well, I’m not here to preach about WOWing your customers or being consistently above average. This is about the un-WOW. More accurately, it is about avoiding the un-WOW, which may actually be one of the biggest contributors to a positive customer experience.
How to avoid the un-WOW in the customer service experience.
I recently spent some time in a special program at High Point University. Part of our time at HPU was spent outside of the classroom, touring the campus and talking with employees. We met a number of amazing people, and one of them was Troy Thompson. I asked Troy what he did and he said, “I manage the un-WOW.”
Upon further discussion he explained that his job was to eliminate anything that would take away from the extraordinary experience that the students have at HPU. He shared several examples.
In the cafeteria and restaurants he would make sure that tables were quickly cleaned after students ate, so that other students wouldn’t have to wait for a clean table or be forced to sit at a dirty table.
Or, maybe it’s just picking up a piece of trash off of the ground, so it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the campus.
And my favorite example is the one he mentioned about how the plates at the salad bar should never be warm. Warm plates that are just taken out of the dishwasher don’t need be used at the salad bar. Find room temperature or, even better, chilled plates to use at the salad bar. As Troy Thompson said, he was in charge of managing – or should I say eliminating – the un-WOW.
Ask yourself an important question: Is there anything that your customers might notice that would negatively impact their experience with you or your organization?
It could be a small detail, such as trash on the ground or dirty restrooms. Or it can be something of greater importance, such as putting customers on hold for too long or having slow response times. Metaphorically speaking, what is your version of the warm salad plate?
So, a good way to describe what managing the un-wow is would be to say… Avoid anything that would take away from the usual, hopefully positive, experience that your customer expects from you.
How, when and where you can WOW your customers.
I’ve always been concerned with a company that tells me that they want to consistently WOW their customers. Like perfection is not reality, the concept of consistently WOWing customers is a lofty, if not impossible goal to achieve. Let me quickly recap my position on WOW.
Once in a while WOW is achievable. WOW levels of customer service and experience are opportunities that typically fall in our lap in the form of complaints or problems we can resolve – or isolated opportunities to just do something special. So, I typically shy away from using the word WOW. However, the concept of amazement, well that is something else.
Amazement is the consistent and predictable above average experience that a customer receives from a company or employee. And sometimes it’s just a little above average. The key is consistency. Without that, there is no predictability, and that leads to a lack of confidence.
However, there is a place for WOW in the day to day focus on delivering great customer service. Yet, it’s not about above-and-beyond or over-the-top experiences. It’s about the details.
Recently I was hired by a client to speak to their company about customer service. This was an after-dinner talk. It just so happens that the company’s corporate colors were blue and orange. As we were setting up for the presentation, the banquet manager from the hotel asked my client if we would like the overhead lighting to have blue and orange accents. With a resounding yes from my client, the banquet manager asked the A/V people to change the color of the lights, which were controlled by a computer program. Within moments every other row of lights had blue and orange accents.
As the company employees came into the banquet room and sat down, I listened for any response to the colored lights. I didn’t hear any comments, but that doesn’t mean that the effort was wasted. It was just accent lighting. Just a detail. Yet sometimes the WOW is in the details, and that does make a difference.
Just after the speech I had a chance to chat to some of the leadership and several employees. I emphasized the difference between WOW and amazement. I then talked about how details matter. I asked them to look up and notice the lights. I heard a few audible gasps and a few people used the word, “WOW.” None of them noticed the colored lights until I pointed them out. But, once they did… WOW!
So, what details can you enhance to a level where your customers say, “WOW!? Let the story about the accent lighting serve as a metaphor of what’s possible when you mix small, but powerful details with an amazing customer service experience. Looking for effective ways to learn how to create those Moments of Magic and deliver great customer service experiences to your customers every time? You can and I can help. Check out my online training program available to you and your team anytime from anywhere and when you need continuing education credits for your professional development, we offer that too.
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More About Shep Hyken:
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling business author. Shep is a faculty member at XTRAcredits as a curriculum developer and Subject Matter Expert. For information contact or www.hyken.com.