One of the best ways to connect with customers is to give them one-of-a-kind experiences. Here are five examples of unique service — and how you can follow in their footsteps.
Customers can’t help but walk away remembering how a company made them feel after a one-of-a-kind experience.
“Customers are looking for unique and engaging experiences,” says Barry Kirk, VP of customer loyalty strategy at Maritz Motivation Solutions. “By creating social experiences and emotional connections, you can forge deeper relationships with your customers.”
Here are five proven ways to do just that:
1. Put a new spin on loyalty programs
Most companies have some kind of loyalty program these days — from achieving discounts with a certain number of purchases to accumulating points that can be redeemed for products or special treatment.
Now customers want to make it a family or friend affair. Almost a third of customers said they wish they could team up with family and friends for loyalty program rewards, the Maritz LoyaltyNext Customer Study found.
Perhaps you can add a “sharing” element to your loyalty program — with family members teaming up to receive an overall discount, or inviting all the employees at a business to join under the corporate account umbrella and work toward a gift they can all enjoy.
2. Look for ways to be different
Ritz-Carlton is known for outstanding service. Employees look for ways to make a unique impression on as many guests as they can.
For example, employees in a St. Louis hotel staged a VIP departure so a young guest with Down Syndrome, who was fascinated by security work, could be part of a team escorting the VIP — really a costumed sales manager — out of the hotel. They asked the young man to help, gave him a badge, walkie-talkie and ride in the escort vehicle. When he arrived back at the hotel after the drop-off, he was met with applause, given a plaque for excellent work and named an honorary member of the Loss Prevention Team.
Most of your transactions, interactions and requests are probably run-of-the-mill. But make it a point to look for a way to make at least one special every day.
3. Turn the experience on its head
Some laundromats feature coffee bars and food. Barnes and Nobel is rolling out bars and restaurants inside some locations. Car dealerships and banks have added doughnut shops to their office space.
The idea is to fuse different businesses or services together to create a more immersive, unique experience.
You don’t need to change what you do. You can find a partner or make a few small changes to make your customers’ experiences unique.
4. Give a captive audience something captivating
If your customers spend more than five minutes in your facility, on your website or with your employees, use the time to do more than take care of a transaction. Make it captivating.
For example, employees at some Trader Joe’s supermarkets hide a stuffed whale in aisles so children can look for it. Any kid who finds it gets a prize — and parents get some reprieve while trying to concentrate on shopping.
Montage Mountain Water Park hosts Find It Friday, when they hide flip-flops throughout the park, and guest who find the footwear can turn it in for prizes.
You can adapt this idea to your website. Perhaps you can bury a unique phrase on a page and offer a discount to customers who find it.
5. Make a connection
Most companies focus their social media attention on the more social sites — such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter — and less on the professional ones — LinkedIn.
But these ideas might convince you that LinkedIn can help create a unique customer experience, too:
- KFC’s founder Colonel Sanders has one good sense of humor. Just check out his profile on LinkedIn. It takes you through his messy 115-year work history and finding his true calling: frying chicken. It’s unique because so few companies use this platform to highlight a personality or mascot.
- Fruit of the Loom reached out to professionals on LinkedIn, targeting thousands who changed jobs in a 30-day period to offer them a complimentary change of underwear. Those who took them up on it got the undies and a $5 coupon. LinkedIn offers a platform to personalize surprises, and delight loyal and would-be customers.