The Value of the Unexpected

I had a real treat this week and got to spend some time watching my daughter play piano at the Indiana State Fair.  She was just short of qualifying for the actual statewide piano tournament but instead got to perform for a half hour in the Fine Arts exhibit hall on the fairgrounds.  While she was disappointed to miss the "big dance" she was happy to get to play for a half hour rather than just one song. 

During her piano session she was stunned when people came up and gave her a "tip".  In the end she walked away with around seven dollars which she promptly applied to fun things at the fair.  Having people do this so unexpectedly took this experience for her from a happy and fun thing to do to something she will never forget.  Being that she is a child it was readily apparent to all those generous folks what the impact of their small gesture had on her.  This is a lesson we can all learn from in our day to day interactions with clients and customers.

As we migrate from customer to customer it is very easy to get into a routine where we provide them what is expected and move on to the next customer.  We forget how easy it is to do that one small gesture that may cost you little or nothing but makes all the difference to the customer as a person.  This can range from an unexpected compliment to going above and beyond to help them address an issue that is ‘technically’ not your responsibility or may not have anything to do with why you are talking with them in the first place. 

Based on our experience at the fair I went into my next client meeting looking for that small little thing that I could do.  For this client it ended up being a link to the web whiteboarding tools I use to present whiteboard sessions over the Internet (It is called a Bamboo board and is a remarkable tool for engineers).  This tool will help the good doctor at our customer be more effective in meetings that technically have nothing to do with their contact center solutions.  However, every time he gets asked how the heck he is drawing things on their screen he will remember who provided him with that great "tip".  It may not be a huge elephant ear from the fair or a three foot high mound of cotton candy on a stick but nonetheless it’s the little things that matter.

Looking at my day to day interactions it is easy to identify those vendors who have made a difference for me.  These just happen to be the same vendors or products that I have and will use for years.  Some of these are driven by Customer Experience strategies outlined at the corporate level but most rely on having the right person on the job who understands that a relationship is not built through a strict adherence to a "job description" or protocol. 

Think back to the "Unexpected Interactions" you have had with your customers or better yet the ones that you recall as the CUSTOMER.  I think you will find these are the differentiators that really matter to clients.  I know they do for me.  Do you have an unexpected experience that hooked you for life on a vendor or product?  If so, let me know!

-Tom