Surprise & Delight Your Tribe:

How Great Customer Experience is Great Marketing

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We’ve all been there before—ready to pull out our hair during a frustrating experience with a customer service rep.

Angrily punching numbers in an endless loop of robo options on a corporate phone line, hoping whatever number you press next leads you to a human being.

Searching through a long list of dropdown options, none of which accurately describe your current issue, and worrying your choice will send your email into the wrong person’s inbox, wasting time and making sure your problem persists.

Being told to come back another time when the right manager or contact is on site and available to talk, putting the responsibility of resolving your issue back on you to make the next move.

As universal as these experiences are, I think I actually hear more company raves than rants. Why? Because we still don’t expect to have smooth or delightful customer experiences, and when we do, we want to tell people about it!

Like when my LSTN headphones broke in my purse a full month after my warranty had expired, and they said, “No problem. We know that’s a bummer and we’ll send you a new pair anyway.” No questions asked.

Or when I left my laptop on my flight and the sales rep at Apple used the information she knew about my lost computer to recommend the best (and most affordable) options for my next purchase. AND told me a story about how she left a fairly large amount of cash in a grocery cart once to commiserate.

Or when I emailed Marie Forleo’s B-School team a more existential than practical question about applying their course material, and they wrote me a warm essay in response, giving clear advice and helpful resources while also exhibiting empathy for my professional growing pains.

Great customer experiences lead to increased word of mouth marketing.

 

Surprising and delighting your customers and clients builds social proof and helps establish trust. I think there are three keys to facilitating excellent customer experiences. Working from these frames of mind means over-delivering on your promise, providing stand-out care and building a network of raving fans.

Ease of Interaction

Making it easy to buy from you, to contact you and to set appointments with you should be a no-brainer.

But I still see many companies and entrepreneurs fall short in this area. It should be easy to get a hold of you—very clear on all channels how best to reach you, no confusing phone directories or unhelpful help forums. It should be easy to purchase from you—simple technology and payment processing, with clear communication during and after purchase. There should be clarity in your copy and design in general. Limit the choices you offer or requests you send to your patrons. Make sure information is accessible on all devices. Provide FAQs if you note a few commonly asked questions!!

Anticipation of Needs

There are a ton of ways you can actually anticipate your client or customer’s needs.

If they’re buying something that’s challenging to set up, can you offer instructions or in-person installation? If you’re a wedding photographer, you know your client wants some family portraits, and you also know families are complicated. So can you ask about ways you can help ease family dynamics while also making pictures? If you’re preparing for a film shoot or a web redesign or something that requires special knowledge, can you send a questionnaire early in the process that helps you spot potential issues before they arise?

More prep work means less guess work. (And more prep work doesn’t necessarily mean more of your energy and time. Many of these suggestions can be automated!)

Are a number of your clients facing the same challenges or in the same boat? Can you create a resource for them to download or dig into and share again and again when the issue comes up? Do you know where your past ticket buyers like to sit in the theatre? Can you provide pre-selected choices in your seating map?

Generosity

I love surprising my clients with gifts and handwritten letters. After you build a website with us, we are going to celebrate!

How can you be generous with your customers and clients? By offering free exchanges or returns? By sending replacement items or parts at no additional cost?

Don’t worry. Being generous doesn’t always mean spending money. You can also be generous with your time, offering one-on-one sessions for free to your most enthusiastic supporters. You can spend an afternoon writing personal thank you emails to catch up with clients or donors.

This kind of gesture is the above and beyond kind that gets talked about and remembered.

Make it easy to work with you and interact with your company. Collect and consider details that allow you to anticipate your customers’ needs. And give generously whenever and wherever you can.

I strategize, consult and manage digital marketing and communications for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. I’m based in Brooklyn, because I have a thing for exposed brick, cozy, local coffee shops and the can’t stop, won’t stop energy of New York.

Because I work with small companies, I get the chance to really know my clients – what makes them tick and how and why they should stand out in a crowded marketplace. A lot of my clients have a smaller staff, a limited budget and are already stretched thin for time. This leads us to tailor marketing strategies and solutions to each company’s unique needs and actual capacity.