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It is that time of year. Especially in the Northern hemisphere, where it is the heart of winter. It is dark when you wake up and also when you return home from your office, the sun has set – if the sun has even shown her face at all during the day… Since most of the days it is raining, snowing or just so cloudy that you want to fly to the sun. Immediately.

This is what your customers are experiencing too. So this is the perfect time to step it up a little bit. Give your customers some extra love and attention. Because you don’t have to let your customers feel even bluer than they already do. This blog gives you 15 suggestions, simple but so effective:

  1. Send a birthday card to a customer who celebrates his or her birthday. Congratulate and tell them how happy you are with their relationship with your customer.
  2. Buy a 25 American Dollar Kiva card of (kiva.org) and send it to a customer and share a message that you would like to pay it forward.
  3. Open the door for a customer in your store. Welcome them with a genuine HELLO.
  4. Look into complaints and pick one out that needs extra love and attention. Solve the problem sooner than you have promised and add your TLC to give the customer a good feeling.
  5. Invite a customer for a really good cup of coffee in your favorite coffee bar. Ask them for genuine feedback and listen intently.
  6. Give a customer something extra. If you work in a coffee bar, add a snack. If you work in telecom, some extra mobile data. Try to find something that you can give, which makes your customer happy.
  7. Welcome a new customer with a video you have made especially for them. A genuine welcome with a big smile.
  8. Drive down the country, buy a big bunch of flowers and visit a customer. Thank them for being a customer and have a cup of coffee together.
  9. Dive a little deeper into the lives of your customers. Find a customer with an anniversary, buy a personal gift online and send it to them.
  10. On a rainy day, bring an extra umbrella along and offer this to a customer that comes into your store soaking wet. With compliments of you and the company of course.
  11. Give a compliment to your customer. Easy, but so effective.
  12. Especially in business to business, find out about the interests of the customer and find one or more articles that are in line with these interests. Send the article(s) with some happy greetz.
  13. Go to the logistics department, bring some small gifts along and add them to customers packages that are sent out today.
  14. Find blogs that are written by your customers and leave nice comments.
  15. A more indirect suggestion, but with great effect: Buy a cake for customer service colleagues and tell them how much you appreciate them. If you want to take it up a notch, join them and listen in to customer calls.

So plenty of ideas here. But I would love it if you add to this list, the more ideas the better. Because in these gloomy January days, our customers can use some of your Tender Love and Care.

Do you want to share this message? We have made a printable version that you can download. Print it and hang it where you colleagues can see it. To spread the kindness. Thank you!

If I am YOUR customer tomorrow, can you guarantee me that I will be a happy customer? Let’s say you can give me a 99% guarantee? No? 90% perhaps? Or maybe you don’t know? Before I give you insights on how to go about this, let me take you on a cruise…

The cruise I made in 2016 was the perfect example of how Customer Experience should be organized. Everything fell into place. Effective (meeting needs), easy and enjoyable. These 3 words, that are the basics for the Customer Experience Pyramid of Forrester, help to identify if experiences are making customers happy and if they are creating loyalty.

When looking at my customer journey with Carnival – as a Customer Experience Expert – I can identify 3 phases in the journey: Pre-Travel, Travel and Post Travel.

In the Pre-Travel phase, I was browsing the web for the cruise as their prospective guest, together with my 18 year old daughter. 2 elements were essential. Date of travel and destination (we wanted to visit the Bahamas). After googling my way around the cruise world, I found a perfect cruise with Carnival. But would we really like that? At that moment I was surprised as a CX pro. They had a distinguishing Customer Promise: “Fun for all, all for Fun”. What a great way of distinguishing themselves. Their reviews resonated with that. I had a peek at www.cruisecritic.com and the reviews were realistic and enthusiastic. So, we booked. They even seduced us to upgrade our booking to a Spa Suite. Giving as extra perks and a balcony. And off we went..

The thing I dreaded most of the travel was boarding. Just imagine 3000 travelers wanting to get on board of this immense cruise ship at the same time. Help! But Carnival realized that could be moment of pain. They acknowledged my fear by offering me a special boarding slot. When we arrived at the terminal, everything was organized, planned and there was a quiet atmosphere. With my professional eye I noticed the VIP deck, for frequent travelers who were loyal Carnival customers. And I also learned from my neighbor that they bought a special package: “Faster to the Fun”. Wow, hands up for Carnival, creating an upsell in this moment of pain and turning it into a ‘Must Have’ for me. Yes, next time I travel with Carnival, I will buy this package. Boarding was easy peasy. No hustle at all. And the travel was brilliant. Everything a cruise in the Caribbean should be!

When we left the Carnival Splendor, they sent us a review form and of course I filled it out. Being an enthusiastic person, I had booked all trips to the 4 islands we visited (they made it easy for me, getting booking done on my TV set in the cabin, YES, incredible, isn’t it?!) and they gave me the joy of spending. Investing in memories forever. I shared my story on Facebook and my daughter shared the whole cruise through Snapchat. What does that matter? Think of several of her friends now asking their parents to also go on a cruise with Carnival… Carnival created a mental contract with me. By crafting these special memories, they are my favorite if we go on a cruise again. Besides, how about me sharing this information with you through this blog. What do you think of that; being an Ambassador and an Advocate at the same time.

How can you replicate what Carnival did with me? You should work on the 3 pillars of the Transformational Customer Experience Framework (in co-creating with Ian Golding) .

1.      Voice of the Customer

Listen to your customers. Through NPS or CSAT and most definitely through Reviews. Make sure you know what your customers See, Hear and Feel while being a customer with you. Learn about your customers. Not only during sales, but also after sales. Make sure you get your feedback and then… ACT. Reach out to your customers. Call them, fix hiccups and start improving broken experiences. Fix those processes, train your employees. Take action and take the lead. That is what the Voice of the Customer pillar is about.

2.      Brand delivery in the customer journey

This has 2 elements. First of all Branding. What is your branding about? Is it distinguishing in the market place; are you any different from your competitors? Make sure you know what you promise to your customer. Where Carnival was all about fun, they knew how to put it into practice. Which takes me to step 2: Identify those moments of pain and moments of truth. At which moments in the customer journey do you have to be there? What are the dilemmas of your customers? Take these moments into account and look at your processes through the eyes/ears/hearts of your customer. Make your communication explicit and consistent in all channels and at all touchpoints. Make sure the customer experiences are planned and organized.

3.      Employee Ambassadorship

Now you are listening to your customers, you know how you distinguish yourself in the marketplace and you know what type of experience you would like to be delivered in the customer journey. It is up to your employees to deliver on that promise. There are 2 elements to this. They need to have the KNOWLEDGE; they need to  know what to deliver, what and when and they have to be trained and skilled. And most important, the second element of Employee Ambassadorship: MOTIVATION. They need to be engaged with your organization and your brand.

Great Customer Experiences don’t happen by accident. They are planned and organized and staff is able to deliver. When you work systematically on these 3 pillars of the framework, you will be successful. It is a long term perspective and more of a transformation than pure change. Leadership is necessary and support from the C-suite is essential. And it can be done. And if you don’t believe me, go on a cruise with for example Carnival, maybe we should go together with a group of CX professionals. Learn from the best in class just as I have experienced.