Close Your Eyes and Don't Peek!

Magic shows always work because kids loved to be astonished

Have you wondered why kids like birthday or Christmas presents so much? Or why teens and youths enjoy watching the latest "Lady Gaga" music video?

I believe that it is captured in a single word: Surprise.

Surprise is the element which results in major news stories all over the world. It conquers headlines, breaking news, column inches and front pages.

Surprises can cause people to lose sleep, awaiting with eager anticipation what the latest discoveries will bring them. It is that mixture of trepidation and excitement, the butterflies in one's stomach as the moment dawns closer and closer.

Surprise - well pleasant ones at least - can also be an extremely powerful marketing tool. Companies that invest in amazing their customers in a delightful way know that unexpected gestures of goodwill go a long way. They are the stuff of customer service legends, of mythical employees who not only go the extra mile, but use their own money to create magic.

The enemy of surprise is standardisation. Follow the rules. Keep to the guidelines. Practice the policy. While some measure of consistency is important - you do not want customers to be shocked by a trishaw instead of a Ferrari - one should also be careful about nailing everything down to a "T".

Creating a culture of surprise requires several things:

1) Empowering your employees with the right levels of authority and appropriate training and guidance.

2) Enabling an open environment where staff members are motivated to think out-of-the-box and share their ideas. Endeavours in innovation should be pursued rather than dampened.

3) Exposing oneself to what's happening out there in the world. See how companies and businesses in other industries are pampering their customers. Reflect on how you as a customer are treated and jot down the learning points from personal experience.

4) Encouraging positive and reinforcing behaviours amongst staff. It all begins from the workplace. Learn to give people the benefit of the doubt and build a culture of caring and giving.

The crux of delighting customers lies not just in providing consistent and dependable service, but also in spontaneous acts of generosity, warmth and helpfulness. Let us all learn how to put a little jig into our customer's steps with a jolt of jollyness.

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