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Be Customer Centric – differently!

KNow the competition intimately so you can beat them

If you are confident that you are doing everything you can to be customer centric, then this post is for you; it provides some further ideas on how to surprise and delight your customers in a different way, to ensure you keep your competitive advantage.

Last week I was in the US for a few days and stayed one night in a small lodge on Key Largo. If I hadn’t prepared my trip by checking out possible places to stay on Tripadvisor before I left, I wouldn’t have known about it, as it is hidden by greenery, even though it is on the main US 1 highway. I would highly recommend this lodge (Dove Creek Lodge) if you are in the area; not only does it offer great value for money, but they are very customer centric. They couldn’t do enough for us, even though we were only there for one night on our way down to Key West.

What touched me in particular, was the way they appeared to search for ways to surprise and delight their clients in everything they did, far beyond what you would expect, even from a star-rated hotel. For example, instead of plates of fruit, meats and vegetables for breakfast, they presented the same foods, but as sweet and savoury kebabs. Rather than serving a large bowl of yoghurt for everyone to dip into, they presented delicate glass cups filled with Greek yoghurt, fruit and granola, or graham biscuits with key lime cream. The whole stay was perfect but there is every chance that we will remember it longer than other places in which we have stayed, because we were surprised and delighted by that original breakfast presentation.

So what can you do differently, to surprise and delight your own customers? Think about what you or your category competitors normally do, but then do it in a slightly different way. Customers will be woken from their mindless, habitual behaviour, and made to sit up and take more notice of what you are offering. Here are some examples that I have experienced in the recent past, but I would love to hear about others that you have already seen, used, thought about or had the pleasure of enjoying:

Replacement product:

OK so you think that you have satisfied your customer when sending a replacement for a (perceived) faulty product? How about sending it express delivery, so they get it in record time? This will amplify your already good customer service and your customers will be delighted. Many companies add coupons as an extra, especially in the US, but those don’t delight or surprise any more. You could offer samples of new products as well, but just make sure they are relvant to the customer- I recently received a “normal” version of a “hypo-allergenic” product I had returned due to an allergy!

Bakery:

Instead of the usual fillings of bakery items, how about adding “surprise” additions. For example, how about jam donuts with jam and cream cheese for an added, surprising delight – I actually had this at the Bagel Isl and, Big Pine Key and would love to go back again to try some of their other surprising offers. I have also bought chocolates with very creative flavours, both savoury and sweet, that certainly got my guests talking with their coffeee after a meal!

Car rental:

Alamo and National, and maybe others I am not aware of, offer their customers the full choice of cars to rent  within their reserved price range, rather than the company deciding what car they will give you. This way, you feel that you have far more choice and are in control of your rental agreement, much more so than you do with other companies. I have also received a small attention on leaving the parking of some rental companies – a bottle of water in summer, a CD of seasonal music at Christmas, Halloween c andies in October. It is not so much the small gift as they surprise that delights.

Airlines:

Many airlines are now offering premium economy service, where their clients are treated, at least on the ground, like a business traveler, rather than as an economy passenger. The first time this happens, it comes as a pleasant surprise and I can imagine will likely make their passengers more loyal to the service and perhaps also the airline in the future, in the same way as complementary upgrades do.

Consumer packaged goods:

Extra ingredients or novel packaging ideas that add sensorial experiences to the product, can bring memorable experiences even to commoditized products. For example, Nestlé brought out a cream desert that had a chocolate layer you cracked with your spoon; Herbal Essence shampoos had significant success with special perfumes; Pantene ProV with its unique colours and solid “clunking” lid closure; Bud Light Premium which sells in an unusual rich, blue bottle; or scratch patches on air fresheners and laundry products. There are many ways to add additional surprising sensorial experiences to your offers, you just have to think like your target customer and know what would delight them.

Offering surprising and delighting extras is one way to make your customers remember your product or service, and almost guarantee repurchase and loyalty, since competitive products don’t have them. Surprising your customers makes an emotional bond that intensifies their experience, so they will remember not only your br and, but also the additional pleasure that is relived each time they think about it.

As you saw from the above examples, it doesn’t need to cost a lot to be unexpected, it just needs to be in some way related to your product so the link remains in the customer’s mind next time they go shopping. These extras make a huge difference to the more commoditized products where br ands offer little differentiation beyond the br and and manufacturer’s name.

What other ways have you found to surprise and delight your customers? Have you, yourself been delighted by a special touch you have found in a product or service? Please share your ideas below.

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For more tips about delighting your customers, especially in innovation, please see our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

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