When Was The Last Time A Customer Said, “Wow”?

Can you remember the last time one of your customers said, “wow” in your store? Or simply showed genuine amazement at how much your service exceeded their expectations? Take some time to check out your Yelp reviews. How many of those are truly glowing? And i’m not just talking about ‘contented’, yeah that meal was good reviews.  I’m talking about reviews like this for ShopKeep merchant Victory Garden:

‘Uhm, wow.  I mean, this amazing salted carmel soft serve is made with goat’s milk?  The dark chocolate rosemary, too? Nothing in there is made with cow’s milk and I am telling you NO one could possibly tell the difference. No, wait…it’s so much better, lighter, creamier, with better and more unusual flavors, that I now have to ask myself: why would I eat anything else? I know: because there is no other place like this.’

Or this from ShopKeep merchant One Girl Cookies:

‘A neighborhood favorite. I have been coming here since they opened years ago. The owners are the sweetest people you would ever want to meet and they have built a staff and service environment which makes everyone feel like family and that extends out to the customers and into the community as well. The cookies, cakes and cupcakes are excellent, but the truly irresistible treats are the pumpkin whoopie pies. The chocolate whoopie pies are fine too, but for unparalleled flavor and delight go pumpkin; you won’t regret it.  The pride and love which Dawn and Dave pour into the business is in bold evidence the moment you arrive.  Enjoy! And enjoy all the smiles and joy on the faces of the patrons young and old as well!’

If you are struggling to pull together a list of truly positive feedback like this, it might be time to consider how effective your business currently is at customer service.

Why does this matter? Because a content customer is really just that, content. They’re not committed brand followers who will stick with you through thick and thin, or who will go out of their way to recommend you to others.  It’s those ‘delighted’ customers who said or thought, “Wow”, who will become loyal brand ambassadors and evangelists for your business and will come back again and again – and bring others. Those are the kind of customers you want to create.

So how can any small business make sure they have a killer customer experience?

Whether you are Apple, (they sure know who to build a cult following), a bicycle shop, or a antique clock repairer, creating the wow effect is the same. Its done by having your front-line staff create that emotional spark or wow experience in the customer interaction known, according to McKinsey research, as the ‘moment of truth’. This is the moment that helps, ‘transform wary, skeptical or content people into strong and committed brand followers.

It’s not enough to have a generally thoughtful approach to customer service, through that’s an essential first step. Wowing customers is about identifying the key moments on the customer journey, where you can make a real emotional impact – and make the customer feel special.

For restaurants, this moment could be offering a dessert ‘on the house’ to any new couple trying your restaurant for the first time, or for a grocery it could be employing someone to carry elderly clients’ bags to their car for them.  The key here is respecting that not all aspects of your customer service moments will ‘wow’ people, some are just expected.

The Mckinsey study looked at the moment of truth in retail banking and found that 33% of customers experienced a moment of truth when receiving, ‘good financial advice’, but only 2% experienced one when obtaining a ‘credit card smoothly’.The difference, the former is seen as value-adding.

At Counter Culture, if we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times, people choose to frequent their local small business because they expect a value-added experience. If they wanted the absolute lowest price and impersonal service they’d go to the big-box store or chain restaurant.  They come to you because they feel that you can improve their experience – so find a way to entertain, inspire and educate your consumers in a personal and useful way. Find a way to go the extra mile.

Identifying those ‘moment of truth’ opportunities in your business is a process of trial and error but every business has them. To help you get started, you might want to consider creating a How Did We Do Today? feedback survey, asking customers to evaluate the key interactions they had with your front-line staff and give them the chance to comment in a positive or negative way. You’ll soon get an idea of which interaction went well and which didn’t – and, more importantly, you’ll start to get a sense of which interactions were important to how your customer saw their experience overall.

Maybe they had to wait at the counter a long time before being attended to. Maybe your sales assistant gave them a really useful explanation on how to make your products last longer. Maybe the restroom was broken but nobody really minded that much.  This data will give you some insight about where to really push your staff to add value.

One thing to note here is that identifying these key ‘moments of truth’ is not just about getting great reviews, it’s about avoiding the negative impact that messing up these moments can have on your business. McKinsey’s report also found that the moment of truth can cut both ways: while 85% of customers spent more following a positive experience, an enormous 70% spent less over time when these ‘moments’ of truth were handled badly.

The good news is that things that seem like problems are often the best opportunity to ‘wow’ your customers. Nothing says attentive service like a speedy response to a complaint, so if you’re dealing with a faulty item, a  lukewarm coffee,  a dirty piece of cutlery, some damaged clothing, a service defect, etc, don’t panic.  Embrace it as an opportunity to engage your customers and take your relationship to the next level.

If you really want to your business to prosper and grow, purely meeting expectations is not acceptable, you need to be constantly wowing your customers  during the key moments of truth. And if you do, you’ll start to see your Yelp reviews (and your bottom line) reflect your efforts.

Paul Nugent

Paul Nugent

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate who uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.