At Boardroom Insiders we have what I think is a particularly evocative phrase that we’ve embraced when either describing how we want our customers to feel—or the feeling we want to have when working with our own vendors.We call it “that spa-like feeling.”
Let me explain. When I founded Boardroom Insiders, I wanted to create a tool that would help vendors become experts on their own customers, enabling them to be better business partners. I wanted to do this by delivering deep and relevant customer insight on the proverbial silver platter at the time of need. So imagine having the smartest, most skilled research assistant who feeds you exactly the insight you need before every customer meeting, enabling you to surprise and delight your customers with your deep and thoughtful insight about their business.
Being an aficionado of spas and spa treatments, in my mind I always aspired to give our customers “that spa-like feeling” and imagined that what we provided would help them give their own customers the same great experience. For years I kept this mantra private because it didn’t seem to be appropriate business jargon.
As our business grew, it became increasingly apt as a description. We began hiring our own vendors to handle a variety of tasks and I realized I was seeking for our business what we had always sought to deliver to our customers. Yes, I’m talking about “that spa-like feeling.”
Unfortunately, I have found it to be mostly elusive. Don’t get me wrong. We work with plenty of great vendors who deliver what they promise and offer fixes when something goes wrong. But it is rare for a vendor to regularly go above and beyond by doing something extra, unexpected, thoughtful, or delightfully surprising.
Many years into the business, I finally shared this private mantra with my business partner. Not only did he not think it was silly, he immediately adopted it and now it serves as our catchphrase, a deeply meaningful shorthand that sums up what we aspire to give our customers—and also what we want for ourselves.
If you’re not a spa person, this may elude you so let me explain. By authentically caring about your customers, collaborating with them, listening to them, and understanding their problems, they experience the business equivalent of bliss. Someone finally understands exactly what they want and need—and then delivers it, leaving them feeling surprised, happy, refreshed and cared for—like they’ve been to the spa!
So how do you start to give your customers “that spa-like feeling”? Well, it could be anticipating needs that even your customers don’t yet realize they have. It could be coming up with solutions to problems for which you aren’t even responsible. Or it could be recognizing that they are human beings who have their own goals and pressures. In a nutshell, it’s providing the best of our 21 st -century digital experience while still recognizing and embracing that the old-school analog relationship is just as important—something that will never change.
But remember, giving customers that spa-like feeling is intended to build on your already customer-centric fundamentals. It’s not intended to be a way to paper over your deficits.
Want to give your customers that spa-like feeling? Here are five rules to live by:
1. Have your customer’s back.
They need to know that you’re always on their side—to fix what goes wrong, support them in their goals or to surprise them with unsolicited help.
2. Become an expert on your customer.
Make an effort to learn all about the company, their industry, their competition, their executive leadership and your day-to- day contacts. Find out what they’re up against and what’s coming down the pike. The more you know, the better you can anticipate their needs and offer unexpected information, value or services.
3. Be their partner.
Continually add value by offering new and relevant information and solutions that support changing priorities. That’s where that expertise above comes in. Be your counterparts’ sounding board and source of new ideas to help them look smart, reach goals and improve their standing in their organization.
4. Surprise and delight them.
On a personal level, it could be acting on the knowledge you’ve gleaned about their interests with tickets to a baseball game or a concert, a cooking class or a wine tasting. Or it could be work related, such as a lead for a new client, a product (not yours) that could help their business, or a candidate for a job opening you think would be perfect for their organization. Invite them to be your guest at a popular conference. Share key news that you’ve learned that can help them.
5. Listen—and then respond thoughtfully.
In sales and marketing, listening is just as important as delivering information. Imagine what you can learn by asking relevant, informed questions and then really taking in the responses. Train your team to develop the habit of listening and sharing what they’ve heard so together you can act on those insights to delight your customer. Then show you’ve listened-- by acting upon what they said.
Clearly, focusing on customer wants and needs has always been fundamental to any successful business. It’s really just the jargon—and the multiplicity and complexity of integrating across all of the new digital channels—that has changed. One of the fastest-growing emerging titles in the C-suite is Chief Customer Experience Officer. Conferences dedicated to “the customer experience” are popping up around the globe and “customer experience” is now common business vernacular in most industries.
It’s as if everyone in business suddenly had an epiphany that dedicating themselves to giving the customer the best possible experience was the secret sauce they were missing all this time.
But while the label and the tactics might be new, the concept is as old as business itself.
Companies looking to really differentiate and gain a competitive edge should consider adopting “that spa-like feeling” as a customer experience mantra.
Do you have other customer experience tips to share? I’d love to hear them. Email me at Sharon@boardroominsiders.com.
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