Surprise & Delight has a become a buzz phrase in the land of customer experience. Even we use the terms in our customer service skills training. However, the first step in Surprise & Delight is listening for clues and knowing more about your customer. If you want to add the WOW Factor to your customer interactions, this is a skill worth developing in your people.
Several years ago, I was at the Gaylord Opryland meeting with the Celebrity Services team. I was interviewing them for my first book, The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service. They treated me to lunch and on the side of my plate, as a garnish, were a couple of slices of blood red orange. I gushed about them, as my Dad had just introduced me to them and I love them!! Then we went on with our conversation.
When I returned to my room later, to my Surprise & Delight, there was a bowl of blood red oranges waiting for me. Ah-mazing! You see, those people were trained to listen for clues and use what they learn to create memorable moments for the customer.
Train your team to listen for Surprise & Delight Opportunities
What if you trained your team to listen and look for clues that could lead to Surprise & Delight moments? For instance:
- Listen for moments in the conversation when people tell you about their likes & dislikes, their hobbies; their favorites and their firsts. (First concert, alma mater, first car, etc.)
- Notice if they have children or pets with them – or they mention their children or pets.
- Listen for their favorite foods.
- Notice what they’re celebrating on social media.
When two team members at Ruby Receptionists saw that I had been to the red carpet of the Academy Awards last year, they sent me a plastic “Oscar” with a note that said “just in case you didn’t win anything.” The team at Ruby Receptionists are masters at Surprise & Delight, and even have a gifting
station at their headquarters so any staff member can create a WOW moment for a customer.
Hans Van Der Reijden, the Managing Director of Hotel Operations & Educational Initiatives at The Hotel at Auburn University, arms his team with Preference Pads. These are tiny little notebooks so that when a team member notices a way to personalize a customer’s experience, they jot it down and it gets added to that customer’s profile. Even his maintenance team is trained to look for clues. If they notice a lot of empty Diet Dr. Pepper cans in the wastebasket when they’re up to fix the plumbing, it is noted. That guest might find a six pack of their favorite drink waiting for them later that evening.
A Touching Trader Joe’s Story
My friend Diane recently emailed me a beautiful story! Her friend was distraught at the loss of her beloved cat of 17 years. She was shopping at Trader Joe’s and when the clerk asked her how she was doing, she mentioned her grief. She told Diane, “As I was loading my car with the grocery bags, that same checkout clerk found me in the parking lot and handed me this bouquet of flowers and said, I really am so sorry for the loss of your kitty.” All I could do was hug her tight and marvel at the kindness of this complete stranger.”
It’s all about kindness, isn’t it?
In addition to the referrals, repeat business and rave reviews you get when you Surprise & Delight your customers, you’re also adding kindness to the world – and couldn’t we all use a little more of that today?
Surprise & Delight doesn’t always mean a gift, either. For instance, our Director of Delight, noticed that one of the attendees at our Train-the-Trainer program left her coat in the training room. She was going to ship it to them, when she remembered they said they had a little wait at the airport. So, she texted them immediately and drove out of her way to bring the coat to our client. You can imagine how proud I was of Beth, when I got the glowing email from our customer the next day!
What about you? What memorable moments are you creating for your customers? Have you thought about training your team to listen for ways to WOW? Start today and let me know how it goes by commenting below.
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. and the author of two books on customer service, including 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet Customer Service. Learn about the ways the Red Carpet Team can assist you in building a culture of extraordinary customer service. Visit us at RedCarpetLearning.com.