When is the last time you did something completely unexpected to bring joy to your customer?

I’m not talking about them receiving some great news on the price of their service, or an automated birthday message, or a coupon for discounts. I’m talking about times when you surprised them with something pleasant because it just felt like the right thing to do at the time? People can always tell the human touch behind something like that.

This is one of the simplest ways to innovate in your company and differentiate yourself compared to your competitors. It is also one of the most difficult to plan, as it relies on the unplannable moments where something just “feels like the right thing to do”. But you can learn from companies which have innovated in the field of Customer Experience.

Reddit, the company behind one of the web’s biggest communities, has a small corporate team who run everything. They have agreed that everyone there has a small personal budget which can be used everyday, without prior approval, to make someone’s day better when they see the opportunity. It’s a very small amount, less than $5-10, but this encourages a corporate culture of pleasing the customer.

If you improve the experience of your clients and customers, it will breed loyalty.

Similarly, Zappos, the online shoe retailer and one of the industry benchmarks in customer satisfaction, makes every one of their new recruits, from sales to finance to web programming, spend part of their induction as part of the customer experience team, actively listening to and responding to enquiries from real customers as they happen. This enables their entire organisation to understand what a customer is going through and how best to serve them, even in ways the customer may not expect. They describe their business like this: “Our product is customer service. We are a service company which just happen to sell shoes”.

Even in my early days of setting up Improvides, I have tried to make this a basic philosophy of what my firm should stand for. If you improve the experience of your clients and customers, it will breed loyalty. I was recently at a networking event, and met two ambitious ladies looking to grow their business. One sold high-end macarons and the other sold indian chutneys. Like most networking events, we went out separate ways, unlikely to work together. But several days later, I just had a moment of insight (as you would expect from a creativity coach…) on a potential way each could address one of the challenges they mentioned to me. So I just sent them both an email with my idea to let them do with it as they please. And the response back was of great gratitude. It’s unlikely to lead to direct business, but its about me building a mindset of focusing on things that the customer finds valuable, not which I do.

What about you? Let us know in the comments below the little things that you do which your customers really appreciate. 

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