When we wrote our book, “Creating and Delivering Totally Awesome Customer Experiences,” we found a very interesting fact from our research…customers hate the unpredictable and inconsistent. We coined the phrase, “Random Acts of Excellence and Chaos” to describe this phenomenon. What it essentially means is that customers like consistency more than they like “occasional exceptional.” They don’t want to wonder what experience they will be getting every time they interact with you or your employees.
We found that customers, like you and I, prefer to have consistency in our interactions and experiences rather than surprises or the unknown. In other words, we don’t want to always wonder if today we are getting “happy Harry” or “sad Sally” when we interact with a business. We want “consistent Carol” because we know what we will get and we will have less anxiety. We would rather have our excitement delivered in different ways than with every experience we have as a customer.
You might be saying to yourself that you enjoy these exciting experiences…and you would be correct that most people do as well. Unfortunately, there is the other side to this that says they don’t enjoy the bad experiences and so they would rather not take the chance of getting a bad one instead of the really great one. There is enough anxiety in customers’ lives already…they don’t want to add one more thing throughout the day that creates more of it. And this is equally (if not more) true for B2B businesses as it is for B2C…it’s just that the interactions are different but the same rules apply.
Think of McDonalds’s for example. Most customers wouldn’t say they go out of their way to eat the delectable food at McDonald’s…but they know that no matter where they are they are pretty much going to get the same experience. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, figured this out and it is still a mantra for them today…consistency in what they do no matter where they are located. It works…and customers prefer this over the unknown.
Start by switching hats and thinking like a customer…because you actually are for many other businesses. If you shop somewhere regularly, do you want to wonder what the experience will be like or how you are going to be treated every time you interact with a particular company? Usually not…you want consistency. We all want to know what we are getting before we get there if it is somewhere we have bought from before and if it is different it causes us anxiety. It’s the same reason we all drive the same way to work for the most part or order many of the same foods, or choose some of the same products to buy again. We like consistency in much of what we do and we don’t want more anxiety.
So what does this have to do with delivering “happy Holiday Cheer” and then paying for it in the New Year?
Simple…most of the time there is merriment in the air and employees feel it and enjoy passing it on to customers during the holidays. There are company parties and treats being brought in on a regular basis and people simply being much happier for the most part. This translates to your customers whether you like it or not. The customers feel this and in turn are generally happier this time of year (other than the stress of trying to find a gift for uncle Bob who hates everything). So your employees are happier and the customers are happier and so their experience is better than it may be the rest of the year. Then the holidays are over…now what?
When the merriment ends so does the “happy holiday experience” for most employees.
This means they go back to their normal routine of providing a good or even great customer experiences…but not an over-the-top WOW, awesome experience they were delivering during the holidays. We have just created our own version of “Random Acts of Excellence and Chaos” in our own company. We have treated the customers differently during the holidays than we are in January. Add onto this a host of returns (if you are in retail) and you not only aren’t in “holiday merriment” any longer you are in “post-holiday sadness” where people just aren’t that happy at this point in time.
THIS IS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY if you see it differently that 90% of businesses.
This is your opportunity to continue the “holiday merriment” and continue to offer this “holiday experience” each and every day into the New Year. When customers see this is the way they are treated every day, not just during the holidays, it makes a statement about you and your business. It says you actually do care about their experience and you are there to deliver it whether they are shopping, returning, or simply asking questions.
This becomes who you are…not the time of the year!
Now for the bad news…most companies I talk to don’t have a clue about how to continue this on a regular basis…day in and day out going forward. They can tell their employees to be happier and friendlier but unfortunately you still end up with the “Random Acts of Excellence and Chaos” situation you probably started with before the holiday merriment started in December.
Now for the good news…it doesn’t have to stay this way!!
This year you can decide to change your strategy…investing time and resources into making this WHO YOU ARE…the DNA of your company. Maybe this is the year you decide to turn delivering an awesome experience into a process and make CUSTOMER OBSESSION your starting point. If you decide to do this and change your company focus and strategy about your customers, you will be able to create this “holiday merriment” experience 365 days a year instead of 30. While all your competitors are “gearing up for the holidays” your customers see this as the norm when they interact with you and your employees. What would that look like in 2017?
Granted, this doesn’t happen overnight so you might have to spend the first half of the year making the change…but it will last a very long time and only get better. Now your employees won’t be thinking this is just what they do during the holidays…they will see how they can deliver this incredible and amazing WOW experience every single day.
YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL LOVE IT!
When this comes together, now your “Holiday Merriment” will be your “way of life” as a company…now a one-off that happens during the time of year when everyone is doing the same thing. Now you can break away from your pack of competitors in the race to the top…you will be the one everyone loves to interact with the entire year, not just during the holidays.
This is what can take you from being viewed as a “commodity” to “completely differentiated” from your competitors. It’s a STRATEGY with a prescribed set of processes and actions…that’s the only way to make it about who you are and your DNA. Now you can know that what your customers love during the holidays will simply be “the way you do business every single day!”