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Wee wows can go wrong

Little things can mean a lot. Michael Heppell is a motivational trainer and he calls the little surprises that we can offer customers "wee wows". For example, a salesman we know used to regularly call in on the shop floor of a customer with a pile of doughnuts. Naturally they loved him and they supported the company’s choice of his firm as a favoured supplier. Another company had a box at Old Trafford football ground and invited customers to watch Manchester United play at home. These small acts of kindness can mean a lot and they can be very successful in binding suppliers to customers.

Acts of kindness can have no cost at all. Phoning the customer to check that all is well a few days after they have bought something will undoubtedly leave a good impression.

Some years ago we remember being impressed by a company who recorded birthdays and anniversaries of their customers on their customer relation management system. The aim was to send them a message on these occasions and so indicate that they were thinking of them.

We were reminded of this the other day. One of us had a birthday and over the years the number of birthday cards received has dwindled. In part this is because digital messages have taken over but mainly because as the years have passed they matter less and less. So, when the birthday came round there were three very valued cards, all from members of the family. A fourth one stood out. It was from a pensions advisor. The pensions advisor card was addressed with a label and contained no message. It didn't sit comfortably. In fact, its receipt was annoying. With only four cards on the windowsill, it was rather embarrassing that one of them was from someone who wasn’t a close friend or relation and who, it was presumed, had sent it with the simple and only motivation of doing business. It was counter-productive.

We must be careful in delivering great customer experience. In theory "wee wows" are no-brainers as they cost next to nothing. But in practice we should make sure that in the customers’ eyes they are seen to be legitimate and relevant.


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