What the heck is Customer Wow?

photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluebike/

Customer Wow is a concept that gets shared a lot, and creates smiles whenever it’s shared. But what is Customer Wow, really? You could say that it’s “the ability to deliver above and beyond customer experiences” and I also think it’s a bit more.

Towards a definition of Customer Wow

We can think of Customer Wow as a combination of empathy – the ability to understand and place yourself in another person’s shoes; functional excellence – the identification of key steps to solve a problem and the ability and execution to complete those steps; and the overarching idea of “doing the right thing” and treating the customer the way you would like to be treated in a given situation. Note: the customer is not always right. And the customer always should be treated with respect, given as much transparency as possible, and communicated with as a customer you’d like to keep.

Empathy – A Positive, Emotive Response

Let’s unpack these ideas, starting with empathy. Empathy provides a positive, emotional response that helps the customer to know that you are on their side and are willing and able to solve their problem. You can do more for the customer in the following ways:

  • Saying Thank You – starting your conversations by thanking the customer for the opportunity to serve them is a great way to gain their attention and to signal that you value their time;
  • Really understanding the issue – start with the end in mind and try to visualize the issue from the customer’s point of view, not just in the most expedient way possible;
  • And meeting the customer where they are – you might know several ways to solve the problem, and you need to find the options that best match the customer’s ability to take that information and actually solve their problem.

Get it done right – the first time

Functional excellence is a key component of Customer Wow. To really create an “above-and-beyond” experience, you have to understand and do the work correctly. But that’s not all – it’s really the start, as getting the right answer is necessary but not sufficient to deliver Customer Wow.

You can do a better job demonstrating to the customer that you really know what you’re doing if you start with these ideas:

  • You know what’s wrong, and you know how to fix it;
  • If you don’t know what’s wrong, you have a good method of managing the customer, the internal process, and the information that makes up the customer’s issue
  • You are able to escalate with style (and not be a jerk)
  • And/or for any of these, you are able to learn.

Learning is Everything – Make Different Mistakes

Part of learning is understanding that idea of “doing the right thing” often requires continuous improvement into the business on behalf of the customer. Ok, fine, so how do you determine the right continuous improvement to suggest to the business, and on behalf of which customers?

This rubric works pretty well, I think. If you can quantify the pain the customer is experiencing, teach what you learn both to the customer and to the organization, and create content that you can use again, you’re more likely to suggest incremental changes, measure them on behalf of the customer, and identify weak areas in your product or service.

How do you know when you’re delivering Customer WOW?

You may not know when you’re delivering customer wow until it happens. It looks like unaided, positive word of mouth from the customer. (And sometimes, if you’re lucky, it results in spontaneous happiness and joy.)

The real wow happens when you combine empathy and understanding for the challenge the customer is facing, identify and resolve the issue with skill (and bonus points for style), and drive and scale that learning back into the organization. How do you measure this success? You can look at unaided positive media; you can look at customer success; and you can look at traditional statistics like Daily Active Users and Monthly Active Users. And perhaps the most telling way that Customer Wow can benefit your company or team is to provide great positives for your next unexpected negative. If your customers are excited about interacting with you and your team, they’ll be more understanding.

What’s the takeaway? Empathy and functional excellence are necessary but not sufficient for WOW.

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