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Surprise and Delight: Two words that enable a memorable customer experience

Technology is an enabler. What is its hidden power when it comes to crafting a memorable customer experience?

Today more than ever, because of the rise of mass communication and customization, having a unique customer experience is a differentiator. Here’s how!

I recently purchased a new laptop directly from HP. Today, the process of buying online is commonplace. We all know the process: you buy, you get a receipt in your email, you then get a follow up receipt with the estimated time and a tracking code. With tracking code in hand, you get to see where your new toy is.

Knowing where your toy is and estimated time of delivery creates a sense of security, but also a sense of anxiety. And, if taken advantage of, a huge opportunity to “surprise and delight” to the provider. Let me explain:

Below is a screenshot of my shipment history from FedEx. As you can see, it shows my order was sitting at FedEx’s facility for two days (this was a two day shipping configuration by the way). I received it on the 25th, a day after my birthday. I repeat: it was sitting in the dock for two days. Which I can see clearly.

Why isn’t it moving? Why is it just sitting there? If it’s ready, why don’t you just send it to me?

my fedex order

With that said, here is a friend of mine who recently got “surprised and delighted” by UPS when her order arrived a day early before her baby shower:

ups excitement

See the difference?

Shipping services are ubiquitous. We know what to expect. And that, is where there is an opportunity to innovate.

Why don’t we get surprised more often? Why don’t companies ask us what our orders are for and then do something to delight us? Of course, this would take collaboration between the HP’s and FedEx of the world to make that happen. The question is: why isn’t it happening?

I don’t mind that I wasn’t surprised by FedEx. They said my package would arrive on the 25th and that’s exactly what happened. They delivered as expected. But it would’ve been cool if my new toy arrived on the day of my birthday. That would’ve really surprised and delighted me!

The point: People expect your behavior to conform to known patterns and conventions. To be able to surprise and delight, just as the UPS example, your task is to upset their expectations.

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Question the givens. What do people believe to be true? What do our customers believe to be true about our service and/or product? What do they take for granted?
  • Develop amnesia and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Look at that shipping history screen and ask yourself the same questions I did: Why isn’t it moving? Why is it just sitting there? If it’s ready, why don’t you just send it to me? Now put your company hat back on and ask yourself: What might we gain by doing this? What might me lose if we didn’t? How can we do more of it?
  • Ask yourself: What have our customers come to expect of us? And in what ways might we “surprise and delight” them by upsetting those expectations?
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