How to make wowing customers part of the DNA of your organization.

woman standing showing shocking face


We here so much talk about wowing customers and how that is critical to creating great experiences. But what does it mean and how do we do it?

Wowing, as far as most of us have understood it, is creating those breathtaking moments where a customer is knocked off their feet by some noteworthy action whether it be an inordinate kindness delivered by your team, some amazing gift you included in an apology for a misstep, or the way you deftly handled a mistake made by the customer. All of these are but examples of what wowing could look like but there is a problem with wowing, how do you do it … every time?  

I hear this question a lot. Attendees in workshops will ask, “what if the opportunity to do something remarkable never comes up?” And they’re right, the opportunity to knock people’s socks off doesn’t happen in every interaction. Sometimes our work with customers is simply routine.

So, when it comes to wow, I like to refer two kinds of wow. One is what I call the “everyday wow” and the other is the “surprise wow.”

The “surprise wow” is much like what I described above. These are times where team members have an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary that is truly a surprise. It’s like a gift no one was expecting. It might be an extra cupcake or a special discount or a free cup of coffee because they are a regular. These are unexpected surprises, and they require team members to be aware of what’s happening in the moment. They also require team members to be empowered to improvise and go off script to make something special happen.

The other kind of wow is the “everyday wow.” This is the wow created by consistently delivering a great experience that is easy, enjoyable, and effective in getting the job done for the customer. At Disney I have heard cast members say, “we don’t create one big wow, we create a series of small wows that add up to a big one.” This kind of wow requires design, training, practice, and continuous improvement. However, this wow is one you, both business leader and customer, can count on. This is a wow that lasts and creates repeat customers because they know what they can expect …and it is better than all the other underachievers.

Here are some steps you can take to create more WOW.

  1. Engage with your employees and share with them your desire for them to step off script and deliver remarkable things when the opportunity arises. Give them examples and challenge them to come up with ways to do something special.
  2. Ensure employees feel safe and empowered to do remarkable things. If they stray too far off the reservation and give something away that was costly to the organization, don’t reprimand, coach them on what would be better.
  3. Celebrate moments of wow. Encourage more of it. Have daily stand-up meetings where you can recognize those who make the wow difference.
  4. Find a service designer and get to work on learning from your customers where things could be better in your processes and systems. Then develop an effortless experience that makes people happy. Go through prototypes until it is perfected and then roll it out to the team.
  5. Train the new process to every employee and practice it. Work to make it natural with just enough leeway for individuals to bring in their own personal style.
  6. Spend time out on the “shop floor” to see how the process is working. Listen to customers and team members. Tweak it occasionally. Listen some more. Tweak some more. Improving should never end.

Wowing customers is a full-time job. It is not a one-time, whenever-the-moon-is-in-the-right-phase moment, it should be a this-is-how-we-roll-every-day activity. To really wow, customers should leave you saying, to quote a friend of mine who visited Disney, “I am not sure what it was exactly but when it was all said and done, I could only say, WOW!” Remember, it’s not one big wow, it’s a bunch of little ones that add up to WOW—over and over.

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