My son’s first word was not Momma or Dadda but Truck. He was fascinated with trucks literally from his first words. Naturally we made the trek downtown for the annual Monster Truck Jam. The loudest and most obnoxious event I ever thought I might go to and was just was not looking forward to it. But, it turned out to be an exceptional experience.
In actuality I learned a great deal about the concept of providing a customer with a great experience and something I practice with my clients. These are tips we can all follow – no matter what our business.
1 – Make it personal. At the Monster Truck Show – the trucks are the stars and the drivers are just as awe inspiring to those that follow this genre. Before each show, the trucks are on display around the arena. The arena was set up for the event. The customers walked around the cars and buses that later would be crushed to smithereens. Children with eyes wide could walk close to the trucks and see just how large they were.
More importantly, each of the trucks drivers were right there- signing autographed photos of the trucks and patiently taking photo after photo with those in line. Each driver had a smile for their customer and took the time to speak to each person waiting in their line. This simple experience made a Monster Truck follower out of me. It made me realize just what we – as business owners – can do for our customers. Taking the time to provide each client with just what is right for them is a perfect example of a great customer experience.
2 – Make it memorable. I’ll never forget just how LOUD those trucks were! While I don’t want to scare my customers with loud noises – I do want to make them remember my product. I want to make sure they know they are being serviced with what works for THEM, not cookie cutter for everyone.
3 – Make it awesome! What can we, as business owners, do to make the experience awesome and stand out? For me, it's paying attention to the small details - making sure the clients are updated on where we stand with their project. Communicating is so key. Responding to questions and correspondence in a timely manner - even if it's just a "Call you after the meeting" or "Out until the afternoon - will respond then." It's an acknowledgment. Really listening to what they want while still guiding them in what's best and what will work. It’s about expanding their horizons and taking a bite out of their comfort zone. It’s about the “ahhh” moment when they see what you or your product can do for them.
4 – Reinforce the WOW moments. In years past, my favorite department stores would have sales personnel walk the dressing rooms to ask if I needed another size or color. Service at it's best. I don't know about you but I don't want to get redressed to go get another size. Now, it's the smaller more personal shops that give us WOW... guess where I shop and choose to spend my money? For clothes, I want the service and the convenience - for toothpaste, ehhhh... I'll go to Wally world.
I recently had my own WOW moment. I hosted an in-home party for a friend that sold a product I really think is top notch. At the beginning of the party, she had the guests write cards to me of what I meant to them. WOW. The direction was to open them one at a time when I needed an “uplift.” Of course I couldn’t wait so opened them the next morning. WOW (again) …. I have kept those cards and have read them over and over since receiving them. This is a WOW that keeps coming back. Not only do I think of my friends but of the friend that made the cards happen. I’m so stealing this to figure how it can work for my business.
5 – It can be inexpensive. It’s really simple and very cost effective to provide a great customer experience. Does it cost anything - really - for the store employee to open the door for a customer when they see them coming? Does it cost anything to acknowledge me when I walk up – even though you are with another customer? Eye contact is the best value around. Does it cost anything to make sure all my freezer and cold foods are together in my grocery bag? (Ahem... big pet peeve especially when I go to the trouble of separating them.) Does it cost anything to smile and say welcome? I love the “Welcome to Moes” and the greeting I get at my favorite gas station when I walk in. I know they say welcome to everyone but it still doesn’t diminish that I was “acknowledged. “
6 - Make it simple. Several years ago, I had someone send a link to an online calendar to schedule a meeting. My first thought was "jeez - just how busy and self important is this person they can't take the time to schedule a meeting?"
Now, it's SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for me. I saw how easy it was to compare calendars and set a time that worked for me. We didn't go back and forth for days trying to find a time - thereby taking up both of our valuable time. A much better customer experience for me - even though we didn't do it "in person." I've utilized this now in my business and feedback from prospects and clients has been terrific. The system automatically sends reminders to both attendee and myself resulting in less missed meetings and less reschedules. I love that feature - although it's a by-product of the system. Mainly, I want to make it simple for my clients to work with me. Simple is good.
7 - Keep it fun. I want working with me to be enjoyable and something my clients look forward to. If you show your sense of humor - it doesn't cost anything! Keep it "safe" and "non-offensive" and your clients will look forward to calls and meetings. Who says business can't be fun?
8 - Give value. For everyone I come in contact with - whether clients, prospects, networking, etc - I try to add value for them. Perhaps it's in the form of a marketing tip. Or it can be a good connection I can make for their business. I will invite them to a business builder meeting that I think would be a good fit. Heck - it can even be an introduction to a competitor of ours - because we may not be the right fit for their needs.
My tips for providing a great customer experience do not come with the ear crushing sound of the monster trucks but they can be equally as effective. Watch for the simple things you can do for your customers and then watch the results!
What is YOUR best customer experience tip?