ED: Here is the question for today—are you playing offense? Are you playing defense? Do you find yourself merely reacting to the situations that occur to try to keep your head above water? Are you trying to anticipate a positive future and want to move yourself and your team in that direction? We’re in a very unusual position in which we don’t know how things could potentially change from day to day. This situation can be one that some may find disheartening. But there are a few who are looking at our current situation through the lens of opportunity. What about you? Where do you stand? Are you operating from a position of hope? Or fear? Let’s find out.
So we’re six months into this pandemic, and many people are beginning to feel it. But now is not the time to get tired. It’s the time to reengage and reset. People are trying to do what they can with what they have. And that is what we must do. Prices are getting lower and more people are entering the marketplace. Everyone is looking for a semblance of normalcy. They’re looking to brands they know and trust to provide comfort. What a great time for you and your staff to go the extra mile. Think back to what life was like before COVID. Customers appreciated products, services and experience. But now that they’ve been surviving in a remote world, the way your brand touches them can bring unexpected joy. The question is, how do you do that?
As a business entrepreneur, you’ve been trying to economize and protect your business and your staff. Is there a way to protect your assets while also providing touches of joy to your customers? For established brands, providing joy is not a tangible skill you can teach in talks about the culture of your workplace or in a social media post. You have to surround yourself with it. You have to live it into your brand. Now this isn’t a new theory. However, now, more than ever, providing joy and living you within your brand is important. People are being furloughed and are having to do the same with less. Others are tightening their belts and being very conscious of their spending. Even if they loved your brand before, if you aren’t giving them reasons to continue to love your brand, you could soon be replaced, or worse yet forgotten.
Beyond the sales aspect, it is more important to love the people who have loved you. Don’t just look to create temporary moments of joy look to create an entire culture around it. If you instill joy in your brand and in your team, then they will pass it along and instill joy in your brand community. For new entrepreneurs who are starting brands, make sure you are your number one fan. Live the joy of your brand, by example. Live the way you want your team to live, and your team will follow. Customers will tell you what they need. Empower your people so they don’t feel like they have to check with the boss to do something that brings joy to their co-workers or your customers. That kind of behavior should be part of your culture. It should be ingrained. Empower your staff and give them the power to truly take care of your customers.
Here’s a tip, take a fresh look at your entire customer experience. Is there something that needs to go? Is there something that needs to come back? Is there something that would bring your customers joy? United Airlines recently announced, as other airlines followed, that they are permanently getting rid of change fees. Believe it or not change fees were one of the number one complaint against airlines. Now you can book a ticket and if you need to make a change, it’s not going to cost you. How’s that for inspiring joy? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It has to meet the need of the customer that you haven’t been meeting.
I have two examples of this. First, between tapings today I went back to my desk and was checking messages. One of our newest team members, in a slack message said, “Hey, I just realized one of our clients is having a birthday, should we do something?” Now she’s new, I mean, literally like three weeks. I love the fact that she asked, but what I would love more is to ensure that every single one of my team members knows that not only is going the extra mile the right thing to do, but they are authorized to make it happen without asking. Think about it, no matter what you say, and what your policies are, are you demonstrating as the leader, when your team sees an opportunity to send some joy for customers that they have to bring it up for conversation? Or do they just do it?
Now, let me talk to you about something that’s the exact opposite. On Friday night, my wife and I and another couple, we went out to dinner at a restaurant we had not been to for over a year. Everything was perfect. It was socially distanced. It was just so well handled. It was such a delightful evening to feel a little sense of normalcy, safety, and security. Well, the next morning, we’re at home and in the mail comes a postcard for $10 off our next order. My wife and I looked at each other and instead of grilled chicken and deli turkey, our meal of choice right now it seems, we decided to order the same dinner we had last night at this restaurant. Let’s go pick it up. And have a little tailgate to watch college football, which is finally back on the TV. Now, this wasn’t a $20 fast food meal or a $300 steak dinner. Frankly, it was an $89 transaction. It was the most incredible experience. I called and they walked me through the menu. They got everything we wanted, and repeated back to me what I ordered, then two things happened.
One, they wouldn’t take American Express. Now I understand the financial reasons why. Guaranteed. However, I had to get out of my chair, go to my car, get my wallet to get a different card because they didn’t want to pay the extra percentage to do business with me as an American Express customer. Okay, I understand. Times are tough. Second, when I ordered they got the name of my car, so when I arrived, they brought the food out to my car. Everything was perfect. I could feel the heat of the food through the bag. It was great. Then they asked, “do you have your coupon?” I was like, “pardon?” They said, “I need to get the postcard to give you the $10 off.” Recognizing that the person speaking to me was not the person who created the policy and could do nothing about it, I chose not to make it an issue. But for that $10 off, they stole my joy. Don’t get me wrong, the meal was incredible. But because they were afraid I was going to use the $10 off postcard twice, the added the discount back onto my Visa card. So, here’s the question, was that $10 really worth it? I’m not providing the name of the restaurant because I understand the reality of coupons and people being dishonest. However, I encourage you now more than ever, if your policies and procedures are set to protect yourself from the lowest common denominator, but it actually challenges or disrupts your most valuable customers, you need to reexamine your procedures. Those little things matter. Now more than ever, your team delivering unexpected joy makes a difference.
I hated that I didn’t bring the card and they didn’t trust me to destroy it. Understand. In the end. everything was perfect. With our order, we discovered a little bag of two with the most incredible chocolate brownie cookies and a brown butter sugar cookie. We didn’t order it. We didn’t pay for it. In my family we call that lagniappe—a little something extra. You know what? We’re probably gonna use that $10 off postcard for our next order.
What’s the lesson here? Find and create, but don’t steal your customers joy.