The world has changed. It’s no longer enough to smile, introduce yourself, and let your products do the talking. Of course these things are important, but they’re an expected requirement nowadays – you don’t get extra credit. The old standards of excellence are the new price of admission. To stand out now you’ve got to build a complete process to WOW your customer at every opportunity.
Think about your favorite brands to do business with – the ones you really love to refer to people and are delighted to spend money with. Whether they’re big or small I’ll bet there’s a lot more to them then a great product. There’s a whole process that goes along with it that makes shopping, purchasing, and then finally getting the product a complete experience.
The brands that are really excelling are the brands that work hard at ALL of their customer touch-points, not just the obvious ones.
Let’s take for example an experience my wife Cameron had recently with a small online business. The shopping experience was fairly typical: easy to navigate online store, great pictures, plenty of info, and a smooth ordering process. Again, this is the standard for doing business, nothing remarkable.
When Cameron opened the package was when it really surprised and delighted her. Inside the typical shipping package she found a “cutely” (as it was described to me) crafted package with her name, detailed instructions for best results, and a thank you note. It was like a little Christmas gift for herself. The connection this small business made with Cameron was instant, unexpected, and very real.
I had a similar experience with a different small business that same week. My t-shirt from Compete Every Day arrived accompanied with a quality brand info card, the owners business card, and a hand written thank you note. Wow!
Neither of these small businesses went too far to delight their customers, but in both cases the unexpected care and surprise of the little touches was enough to make a lasting impression.
Don’t Blow It
Now here’s where the two experiences took very different roads. Coincidentally both me and Cameron needed to exchange our purchases for different sizes.
Cameron fired off an email to the personal email address of the store owner. Days later there was still no response. So she emailed them again, still no answer. The website didn’t mention anything about returns or what to do if you were unsatisfied with your purchase.
Suddenly Cameron’s delight with the brand has turned to frustration with the lack of service. What good is this product if it’s the wrong size? And what are you supposed to do about it if they don’t respond to the only channel available for support? Sadly, Cameron won’t be shopping there again (and she won’t be telling her friends about it either).
All that effort up front wow-ing the customer ended up being wasted.
Now contrast that with my exchange with Compete Every Day: I emailed the address on the personal business card included with my package asking if I could exchange the shirt. I quickly received a response back saying “No Problem!”
Even better, the owner went ahead and shipped it that same day knowing I wasn’t able to ship my return until the next day. Now that’s service!
The Complete Package
One of these two small businesses has a raving fan excited to refer business. The other has a disappointed customer with a useless product. All because of processes, NOT products.
Putting the proper processes around your products or services is probably even more important than the product or service itself! John Jantsch of The Referral Engine recommends creating a “customer touch point” map to help make sure you’re completely covered.
Basically, walk through the processes a customer goes through and write down all the touch-points of the experience. For example:
Online Store Touchpoints (Example)
- The store itself
- Online checkout process
- Checkout Confirmation Email
- Order fulfillment package
- Returns and customer support
Photographer Touchpoints (Example)
- Website portfolio & Services explanation page
- Initial inquiry & Consultation
- Payment and Scheduling
- Shooting the event
- Reviewing photos, delivering album, etc.
Now make sure you’ve got a process in place (even if it’s a simple one) to delight customers at each of those points. Your consultation should valuable, not just a sales pitch. Your scheduling and payment should be easy, smooth, and professional. Your delivery should get people excited.
Don’t get caught up in perfecting all of these points (that’s a huge job!), but do be aware that they exist. There’s a lot of opportunities to build your brand and WOW your customers, and there’s plenty of chances to drop the ball too.