There are several standardized ways you can celebrate your customers. You can do things like email your customers on their birthday or anniversary, send them handwritten thank-you cards (we do like this one!), or maybe offer them a giveback program (buy ten coffees get one free).
However, the best way to celebrate your customers is not standardized or manufactured; it’s a customizable experience that happens in the moment. It’s also a philosophy that is naturally ingrained into the company and its employees.
While thank-you notes and birthday emails are awesome, they are often automated. There are philanthropic missions that can be built into a brand’s business model, like the buy-one-give-one example we talked about earlier this month—again, awesome and important, but sometimes an impersonal model.
Customers feel really special when businesses go above and beyond for them in the moment. There is no plan, no automated system, no routine customer-experience process. Instead, an employee recognizes what a customer needs in that specific moment and acts spontaneously.
We talked a little bit about this earlier in the month when we wrote about The Ritz-Carlton and the insane acts of individual customer service they provide when taking care of their clients. One woman was offered a free spa day because she was having a rough week. She didn’t have that kind of time so the concierge brought her a single relaxing candle. Now, every time she checks into the hotel there’s a candle waiting for her in her room. At another location, a Ritz-Carlton employee went scuba diving in the nearby lake in order to retrieve a pair of sunglasses one of their customers lost.
How about this? Penthouse suite upgrades, a party to celebrate a loyal customer, free hot chocolate for a guest who is having a rough day, a concierge offering unique insights about an area to top off a family’s vacation, or making a special trip for a product that is not usually in stock but needed by a guest. The list is endless and diverse; it comes back to what the business does and what the customer needs at that moment. Do they need to extend service, allow for more time, a free product, a cup of coffee, or even a listening ear?
Interestingly, you’ll be in the lead by doing things like this, according to a survey we ran earlier this month. We asked 1,000 men and women across the last three generations about how businesses have been treating them, as well as how they deal with poor customer service. Only 5.2% of our responders reported that a business had exceeded their expectations ten or more times in the last year. A whopping 39.6% (almost half!) of participants said that no businesses had gone above and beyond for them in the last year.
We think that’s outrageous and unacceptable! Good news for you though, because clearly there is a huge demand for businesses to crush expectations—customers are waiting to be WOW’ed. There’s a need to be filled: businesses need to be listening to their customers better and then acting on what they hear. Celebrate your customers by giving back in the moment.
About half of our millennial responders said that they would refer your business if you exceed their expectations. And 42% of responders expressed that they would leave the service or brand if they experience poor customer service. Even worse, nearly half of them would complain to their friends about the crummy service and 20% would leave negative online reviews.
In other words, celebrating your customers with tip-top customer service will not only make them feel warm and fuzzy inside, it will keep them coming back, all while showcasing your brand in a positive light (something we do best!).
Both men and women agreed that poor customer service is one of the leading complications in conducting business, not to mention that it’s a deterrent to doing any further business. What’s the saying? Deliver a mediocre plate of spaghetti but provide exceptional customer service and people will most likely come back. Serve good spaghetti with awful service, and no one will be coming back (actually, that’s just something I picked up in culinary school). Granted, we encourage you to have an exceptional product as well as phenomenal service, but it just goes to show how important the latter is.
75% of those surveyed would frequent a business only once or twice if the company was difficult to work with. This is something else we dove into this month with Goldfish Swim School: improving processes to celebrate your customer. Operations and transactions need to be silky smooth; they should be simple and convenient for the sake of the business as well as the customer. Don’t be afraid to identify weaknesses in your business’s operations! Implementing a more efficient process or transaction could be just the solution your brand needs to retain customer loyalty.
Implement those automated and standardized methods of celebrating your customers, because they are important. However, don’t rely solely on them. Don’t use those systems and assume they’re enough, because they’re not. Keep going. WOW them. Embrace each transaction, each interaction, each meeting or consultation with your customer as an opportunity to take advantage of the moment and shatter their expectations. Celebrate your customers in the moment.