While customers appreciate a professional and personal experience, they remember ones that make them feel good.
Many companies make customers to smile, laugh or revel in the experience when employees take time to surprise and delight them.
Creating emotional connections — especially the positive, pleasant kind — pays off in customer loyalty, says James Wright, senior partner of creative consultancy at Lippincott when he recently spoke at the National Retail Federation BIG Show 2017.
Here are six key moments to surprise and delight customers, plus best-practice examples from companies that are getting it right already:
Build excitement about the experience customers will have with your company by teasing how great, new or different it is.
For instance, fashion designer Vera Wang invited some of her biggest fans to an “undisclosed” event. Little detail, lots of intrigue. Turned out to be a sample “sale” where everything was free. That created more buzz for future events.
Get customers more excited by tempting them with access to more and better possibilities that can improve their typical experience.
For example, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts offered a program that allowed customers to go on a special Pinterest page where customers could create boards and connect with experts at their destination to plan their ideal trips.
You can fuel customers’ fantasies of the ideal experience with your company by giving them a treat they may or may not have realized they’d like. Often, they’ll say, “I wish you ….” and you can use those cues to create new experiences they should love.
Example: Restoration Hardware created free lounges and invitation-only special events that focus on lifestyle, not products. So they aren’t trying to sell something outright, they’re trying to create something — a deeper relationship and understanding of their customers.
Customers tend to best remember the ending of an experience. So you want to end strong with an element of surprise.
For example, employees and even owners from companies such as JimyZ Automotive, Grasshopper and Jawbone send hand-written thank-you notes to customers. The written word stands out to customers because most of their communication with companies is electronic.
You can set positive memories in customers’ minds with occasional extraordinary surprises.
For instance, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco will provide a goldfish to guests who can’t travel with their pets so they feel some pet comfort on the road.
Companies that make surprise and delight part of their customer experience plan can usually turn a bad experience into something positive. Plus, employees eventually become wired to make any situation better.
For instance, Southwest Airlines crews have been known to order pizza for customers who are rerouted and stuck in airports much longer than anticipated.