How what you do during and after the sale makes the difference

Most of us have experienced the barley acceptable services while traveling. At most your expectations are guarded optimism as to how things will go. Those who travel on a daily basis have developed their own ways of coping with the expectations.

But what happens when those expectations are suddenly altered?

How long lasting and far reaching are the effects? Can the smallest action make a significant difference in a customer's attitude and perception?

Well the best part of a recent trip was how one of these glitches was handled!

Here is the rest of the story…..

Flying from Orlando to Denver and then home, the plane is on time, the weather is great and I'll have time to take care of things that afternoon at the office. I have a major training session with a clients group the next afternoon and have some preparation to finish up on.

Of course we land on time in Denver and as many do, checked the flight schedule and gates.

The dreaded word, flight cancelled is displayed and the guarded optimism begins to wain. There is a major snow storm at home and the airport there is closed down. We had hoped this storm front would have stayed south just a little bit more.

The immediate action is to race for the ticket desk and get on the next flight. Amazingly we are first in line and yes there was another flight and some later ones as well. The ticket attendant put us in on all of them in the event the next one was cancelled. Great job, we'll get out of here yet today, although a bit later.

A couple hours later, you got it, all flights cancelled, home is getting pelted with 12" of unusual late March snow and the whole area is shut down, Interstate roads are closed and all flights in and out are cancelled. Face it, were stuck in the Denver Airport.

The clerk puts us on an early am flight for the next day and indicates they can provide us a room voucher for a $50.00 room that we have to pay for. There are shuttles that will pick us up and bring us back so transportation is not an issue.

Ok, a $50.00 room, wonder how big the bugs are and how noisy the place is going to be! We have already made the decision, if this is the Bates Motel, we'll get our own!

The shuttle is easy to find and it’s a 20 minute ride to the hotel. Denver's Airport is defiantly outside of town.

I never heard of this Three Tree Hotel, but as we pull up to a very large hotel building the image of the Bates Motel dwindles, it’s a 4 or 5 star property! The entry is a grand room with plenty of service staff, the young lady desk clerk is a hoot and very helpful, a free meal and drinks in their excellent restaurant and a huge room with King Bed and other amenities.

Yep, only $50.00 for what was probably a $150.00 or more room!

Yes, American Airlines has altered my expectations and perceptions with an unexpected WOW!

The question becomes, do you and your company WOWS your customers in anyway? If so how?

So the next day after a great afternoon, evening and very restful night; we grab the shuttle to the airport and quickly check in without much of an issue. The plane is scheduled and on time so we enjoy a good breakfast and a short wait while still basking in the great experience from the Hotel. Remember, we paid for the room.

Unfortunately our plane was a small commuter and we were directed down a long addition to the airport. It seemed like a mile by the time we got to the loading gate and were stopped. As we waited for some time, we were informed there was no stewardess for the flight and they could not fly without one!

Finally we were allowed to exit outside and load the plane on the tarmac. The pilot assured us with the winds we could still make it home on schedule.

We arrived in Fargo on time and I made it to my training session about 5 minutes late. No materials or other things I wanted to prepare, but got the job done and the clients were smiling!

So what does this have to do with your customers and WOWing them!

Looking over the entire trip, one thing stood out more than anything else. The hotel room experience in Denver was the most relaxing and unexpected! The obvious quirks in the trip were there, yet the unexpected hotel experience overshadowed them.

This is the power of WOWing your customers. Giving them the unexpected experience and making it memorable. Notice how this became a highlight of the trip and set American Airlines apart from their competitors! It even softened the additional delays and inconveniences for the balance of the trip.

This is the power of WOW, it embeds the experience on mind of the customer, it overshadows other issues or not as positive issues that always seem to be there, and causes the company providing the WOW with a perception of being better than the competition!

In this world of Big Box Stores, minimal customer service and a focus on product cost rather than total customer experience; anyone that can surprise their customers with any kind of WOW is way ahead of the competition.

So how do you create a WOW?
1. Think about the total customer experience, not just the transaction!
2. What are the customer's actual expectations? Do you really know?
3. It is not the big things that tip the scales, often times it is the very small things!
4. View every phase and step of the customers actions, before, during and after the purchase.
5. Have you and your team ask; "How can we make each step exceed expectations!"
6. Have every employee ask customers: "What has WOWed you in the past?"
7. Train your employees to ask, listen and observe; your customers are telling you what they want!
8. Make the idea of "Total Customer Experience" the focal point of everything you do!

I realize that every American Airlines provides a hotel room, it may not be the same experience, yet they have a higher rating in my mind because of one WOW!

How could this type of experience affect your customers!

Author's Bio: 

International sales expert, Harlan Goerger has spent the last 25 years leading hundreds of his client companies to explosive revenue growth. Author of "The Sales Gap," Harlan has used his proven reverse engineering strategy to generate sales growth for his clients to levels as high as 400%. After spending 20 years as a leader with Dale Carnegie, he innovated his own unique strategies that empower all sales professionals with practical and effective techniques.

Continually on the search for proven ideas that get results, Harlan has researched the Influence and Persuasion science to give his clients the competitive edge. Sales people sell more, hold margins and create long term relationships. Managers and Leaders get more commitment rather than just compliance.

Harlan continues to develop ideas and writes articles each week in The Influencer, his weekly business letter.