Create Fantastic Customer Experiences

Posted: December 12, 2011 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, Marketing, People, Startup

Do you remember a really special experience with a business?

Someone or everyone at that establishment created a memory that lingers in your mind long after the commercial transaction has been completed?

You have just experienced marketing aura – you have caught the buzz! The Holy Grail of all marketing strategies is the ability to create an incredible experience that generates more repeat business, more new customers and more profits.

Some very large companies naturally create fantastic customer experiences – Apple, Disney and the Ritz-Carlton all have special memories that their customers share. Small companies can create marketing aura on their own as well.

In Boston’s Faneuil Hall, the infamous Durgin Park restaurant has been asking patrons to pay for their dinners when ordered for the privilege of experiencing abrupt and impolite demeanors of the wait staff.

In any other restaurant, this would guarantee a minuscule tip, yet at Durgin Park, people wait in line to experience the aura of an interesting customer service strategy. They rarely advertise, never run any specials, yet the cash registers keep ringing.

Ken Blanchard, co-author of ”The One Minute Manager, tells the story of a grocery store company meeting where everyone was asked to find a way to make a difference for customers. One bag boy decided to print out 400 copies of his ”thought for the day” and put one in each customer’s grocery bag. As he handed them the groceries, he told them about the thought for the day and thanked them for shopping at the store.

After a few weeks, word of mouth spread, and the grocery store faced a major problem. Customers lined up at the cash register where this bag boy stuffed groceries, leaving other registers empty.

A woman commented to the manager that she used to shop at the store once a week, but now she found herself coming in every day just to get some groceries and a thought for the day. Anyone and everyone can make a difference in creating a great experience for the customer.

So where do you begin?

If you are in command, start to create an environment that rewards innovative and creative behavior. Get your troops together and challenge them to determine what makes this business unique.

Find creative ways to make the customer experience memorable and extraordinary. Make this part of your corporate culture.

If you are not the captain of the ship, then do all of the above on your own. While you may not be able to get everyone together, you can start with one or two of your peers to find ways to invent a great customer experience.

Your demonstrated success with customers who come back because of your efforts will be more than enough proof that this works. The accountant in you may ask, ‘‘and what does all this cost?” Most of the really creative ideas have no cost at all.

Aura is best communicated by word of mouth – especially from the customers’ mouths.

Traditional advertising in traditional media is not needed. However, a little public relations effort that publicizes your aura certainly wouldn’t hurt, and PR is not expensive. Getting the local newspapers, radio and television folks to notice your aura makes them look good, too.

Visit our blog at and tell us about one of your memorable customer experiences!

Bill Cunningham is the CEO of and shop foreman at the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association.

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