The other day I was killing time in a shop before going to an appointment. No intention to purchase anything – just spending some extra minutes. But then my eyes caught an interesting book – out of all things in the world it was about crochet. And there was this sales lady, who came to tell me more about the book, which was based on her master’s thesis from the Art School. She told me about the book and how she had earlier crocheted baskets, mats and all kinds of smaller things herself. But then she made this book and started teaching crochet for groups, and now she is already working on her second book.
All this was all so engaging that in no time at all I was trying out the very thick yarn that they were also selling – and of course I eventually bought the whole package with the book, some yarn and a crochet hook. During the weekend, three baskets were produced – but what is more – I started spreading the word about the book. I told about it to many people, I proudly sent out photos of what I had done and for sure, I felt that the sales lady’s enthusiasm had been transmitted.
What happened here was a sequence of things that get you emotionally engaged and lead to action: seeing somebody excited and enthusiastic about the work s/he has done, seeing the positive pride s/he takes in the work – and that leading to a customer also getting excited, making a purchase decision and starting to spread positive word of mouth.
Big questions to company leaders: How to ignite the excitement and enthusiasm, how to get it rolling out and becoming contagious? How to ensure that the excitement of young people continues under all pressures of the corporate world? How to support excitement and enthusiasm throughout the whole career of an employee?
Small things count – sometimes more than we think. In a company, everybody builds the company image – self-evident – but it often matters more than we think.
During a customer journey – when a customer is exploring goods or services, acquiring and using them, needing help or considering another purchase, there are many points, where s/he interacts with a company. Every interaction brings some kind of experience, which impacts the image the consumer gets of the company.
One thing that is common for all interactions is that the customer wants a response. We want the response fast and easily – be it from a person at a service desk, a web site, retail or some other place. How irritating it can be, if one either needs to wait a long time to get an answer on the phone, or gets a recorded message ‘our service desk is closed for two hours – all personnel is in training’. Or when you have left a message and don’t get anybody to contact you. Or if a web site doesn’t have the basic information, like a phone number or street address easily available from the first page. Self-evident things – but amazingly often causing a headache to you.
Sometimes you approach a company not as a customer, but in some other role – perhaps as a partner or as a provider. Then your expectations for responsiveness are not necessarily very high – and you may be amazingly surprised, when the response exceeds your expectation. A prompt, friendly response to an email or somebody calling you back, when you didn’t expect it, may fundamentally impact your opinion of the company. Those kinds of things make you feel good about the company – and often share your positive feeling with friends or colleagues.
There is no role in a company that would be too small for the behavior to matter. With good responsiveness towards customers, partners, colleagues and other interfaces everybody can contribute to the company reputation.
How often can you say that you experienced something exceptional? Something that amazed you and made you want to experience the same again. Perhaps planted a seed for loyalty.
How often do you even think of having experiences – good, great, mediocre, bad, lousy… Anything around mediocre – perhaps you didn’t even pay attention. It is the extremes that alert us and make us spread the word. And for sure, we talk more often about lousy experiences than about great ones. That’s our human nature.
What makes an experience exceptional – in the positive meaning. The first thing that comes to my mind is surprise. An amazing experience has an element of something that you didn’t expect. It goes beyond the things that make you just say ‘I like this, I can trust this, this is good for my needs’. The second thing that comes to my mind is emotion. I may remember having had an exceptional experience – and not being able to describe concrete things about it. But I still remember the emotional level – feelings like joy, excitement, appreciation.
Let me tell you about an experience in Rome last autumn. A friend had advised us a small local restaurant that she had liked very much. So we went looking for this place and finally found it in the corner of a tiny hidden piazza (nobody would find it without knowing it is there…). And we went in, got seated and were served with an excellent meal including several greetings from the kitchen and tastiers of local specialties. What I however remember more than the meal – even though it was excellent – is the way we were treated by the staff. Firstly, feeling like a guest – and not just like any guest, but like an appreciated guest, for whom the personnel wanted to show the best they could offer. The other thing on top of my mind is the pride the owners of the place took in the local products, which they generously presented.
Definitely, the feeling of appreciation is an important component of an exceptional experience. And seeing your business counterpart being proud of what s/he is doing or offering creates trust in the quality of the products or services offered.