Customer Experience News & Trends

8 examples of how to make the customer experience fun

Business can be boring. But that doesn’t mean going through the motions — from transactions to follow-up — can’t be fun. In fact, if you infuse the customer experience with a little fun and excitement you’ll probably build loyalty.

Most businesses can’t be like Disney World — or any other amusement park, for that matter — where it’s all laughter and happiness on the surface. (Remember, someone still has to balance the books, boost sales and build strategies behind the scenes.) But more and more businesses are taking strides to add a little fun into encounters with customers.  And it can pay off.

Where humor works

Some companies, such as New York City-based Seamless, say fun with customers does improve sales. The food delivery company’s VP of Marketing Ryan Scott says funny tweets drive in more traffic to their website than the average tweet.

A good, well-timed, appropriate joke may be all it takes to increase sales and ensure customer loyalty. In one study, salespeople sent a non-offensive Dilbert cartoon to prospects early in the sales process and ahead of a lengthy, somewhat complex contract. Another group of salespeople sent the contract without the cartoon. The group that sent the cartoon generated higher levels of trust with customers and saw a 15% better return, plus increased customer satisfaction.

So lighten up. Share a joke, laugh, maybe even a good-hearted prank with customers and you’ll likely make their experience even better. Here are eight companies that have turned to fun and have seen nice business returns as a result.

1. Give front-line pros the power

134432668 (1)Even naturally funny people will have to curb their enthusiasm if company policy dictates they be “all business.” Fortunately, that’s not the case at Chicago-based Groupon. Service reps there are encouraged to pull out all the stops to connect and build rapport with customers.

Joey Romaine, one of Groupon’s customer service reps takes his fun seriously. In fact, his name is synonymous with over-the-top customer service. If someone goes above and beyond to make a customer happy, everyone in the Chicago-based contact center says the rep pulled “A Romaine.”

As an example, Romaine recently received a cryptic email that said, “Hey, what’s up?” He didn’t recognize the sender as a regular customer and had no indication that it was business-related. So he responded, “Are you trying to reach us, or did you want to send this to someone else?”

Turns out, the sender just needed to vent and a friend had said Groupon reps respond to anything. Next message: “My name is Joey. I like the Sox.”

The sender opened up. Romain listened and made her smile with well-placed empathy and Groupon credit.

2. Give them a reason to have fun

121202316Back to Seamless, which uses Twitter nearly every day to have fun with customers. Some examples include:

  • It’s 4PM. Do you know where your afternoon waffle fries are coming from?
  • Dear stack of pancakes, We’re coming for you. Best, Seamless.
  • A good man might be hard to find, but on the bright side, we know an app that wants to make you dinner.
  • What’s for lunch on Banana Lovers Day? Banana split obvs.

It’s not just bananas, either. They dig up interesting food days and play with them. Photos of margarita glasses clinking on National Tequila Day. A shot of a staffer’s new hot dog socks on National Hot Dog Day.

3.  Connect on the customer’s turf

200278039-001Do you know “The Most Interesting Man In the World?” He’s a legendary (albeit, fictional) spokesman for Dos Equis beer, and the brand uses humor to promote both the man and the beer. Consider some of these taglines:

  • Once while sailing around the world, he discovered a short cut.
  • Panhandlers give him money.
  • He divorced his wife because he caught her littering.
  • His passport requires no photograph.
  • When he drives a new car off the lot, it increases in value.

We know advertising doesn’t necessarily involve the customer in the experience — and so does Dos Equis. That’s probably why the beer maker invites customers to create “The Most Interesting Toast In The World.”They can upload a video of themselves having fun, while enjoying drinks with their friends and family.

4. Turn even the mundane into fun

Senior couple using laptop computers at homeInvoices, follow-up messages, confirmation email, warranties — they’re pretty boring stuff. Most customers scan them, at best. Except for maybe Grantwood Technology customers. They miss a corny joke if they breeze over a routine document.

In fact, Grantwood might even use an early interaction — like confirming a customer’s mailing address or order — to infuse some humor in the new relationship, according to Jim Simpson, VP of sales and marketing and director of customer service.

Even when there isn’t something to report on an order, Grantwood might send an email with a joke of the day. For instance — and don’t blame us for the content! – A neutron walks into bar and asks, “How much for a beer?” The bartender says, “For you? No charge.”

And it pays off. The company reports high open rates for its email to repeat customers.

5. Lean in on their lives

161003154Many customers actually want relationships with the companies, employees and fellow customers that they do business with. After all, they have something in common with all those involved — an appreciation for a product, ideal, service or location. And when you want to be with others, you often want to have fun doing it.

Caribou Coffee, embraces that with its “What Do You Stay Awake For” campaign. Similar to Dos Equis, Caribou Coffee invites customers to upload pictures, videos, stories and drawings. Many will be posted to the coffeemaker’s wall. A few will make it onto the coffee cups themselves.

6. Make it part of the culture

161690643There’s at least one organization that is so determined to have fun with their customers that they strive to hire interesting, outgoing people and insist on fun inside their workplace. The Third Rule on the Zappos Family Core is: Create Fun and a Little Weirdness.

Imagine that, getting paid to have fun!

Because the company tries to hire naturally creative and fun people, employees can do more than dish canned humor. In some cases, they hold their own like a regular stand-up comic.

Jenna McNight, a Zappos customer and blogger shares this experience:

Zappos: We’ve successfully received your order, and our elves are working double-time to get it ready to ship. Did you know that elves work at twice the speed of humans and only require sugar for nourishment? It’s a fact.

Jenna McNight: I will be sure to put sugar in my payment envelope. I hope your Receiving Dept shares it with fellow workers.

Zappos: I’m sure they will share, after all, elves are excellent sharers.

7. Capitalize on your quirky customers

151521370If customers love your product, service, company or employees, they may be inclined to share their quirky enthusiasm with other customers — making a fun customer-to-customer connection.

Case in point. Otterbox recruited customers to give testimonials that they recorded and posted on YouTube. Customers who were true fans of its mobile device cases shared their thoughts, even dances.

Testimonials from current customers — especially the fun, honest kind — generate more business from prospects and often build more fans from existing customers.

8. Have a party

71036946OK, we’re not saying you need to throw rockin’ parties for your customers all the time. But adding a little flair now and then can increase sales. Jordan’s Furniture is proof of that.

Brothers Barry and Eliot Tatelman built a furniture empire out of four unique stores. Jordan’s employees sell about $950 of furniture per square foot compared to the industry average of $150. It turns over inventory nearly six times faster than the rest of the industry.

How? Maybe because customers like the live music and free balloons at one store. Maybe they like the Motion Odyssey Movie (MOM) with moving seats, laser shows, rock music and clouds of smoke at another location. Or maybe they have fun when they’re greeted with Mardi Gras beads and New Orleans-like performances at a third location.

We understand that you probably can’t create daily party-like atmospheres for your customers. But throwing one occasionally can enhance the customer experience. For instance, some companies hold annual picnics at their sites. Others take the most loyal, profitable customers to conventions and events in party towns such as Las Vegas.

One last caveat

78775396We should note that there are slight dangers in creating a fun customer experience. Customers may not find your humor or antics funny. Or employees trying to have fun may not do the key elements of their job — satisfying customers — effectively. And, the same fun can get stale.

To avoid these issues:

  • Run your fun past an audience. Ask colleagues, friends and family members if they think your ideas to incorporate fun into the customer experience are actually fun. If they say anything is offensive, intrusive or flat-out not funny, don’t do it.
  • Set priorities. Encourage employees to have fun — but only once they’re sure they can fulfill customers’ needs and keep them satisfied. Fun is like the cherry on the top: Everything else has to good for that to mean anything.
  • Mix it up. Jokes, antics and fun events lose their luster over time. Once customers experience the same thing several times, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

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