Customer Experience Lessons from Virgin Group

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Brands That Delight

Sometimes delight stories can be just as cute and adorable as they are delightful. So, what do you think happened when a 9-year-old wrote to Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, requesting for a customized menu on Virgin Trains?

They made it happen! Virgin Trains had quite the surprise for her as the staff served breakfast of her choice. You can check out the whole story here.

We’ve spoken a lot about what separates the truly customer-centric brands from the rest. Well, for one, they are experts in creating consistently delightful customer experiences. And most importantly, they do so by valuing customer feedback.

Feeling inspired by what Virgin did here? You too can create ‘WOW’ moments just like this, moments of deep empathy that reaffirm that the customer should be the centre of your universe, even if that customer is a 9-year-old!

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How do you go about it? What are the key takeaways from this incident that can catapult your business to start delighting customers?

1. Never underestimate the little gestures

Even if Virgin Trains did not make the 9-year-old’s wish come true, it would have had minimal impact on their brand. Also, monetarily speaking, they almost had nothing to gain directly out of this favour.

Why then did the company surprise the kid? Simple: Virgin as a brand cares about its customers, in a sincere way. The brand wants to create moments that will remain with the customers forever. And in order to create these moments, you need to focus on the little things that don’t necessarily come with a ROI. Understand what the customer wants and give it to them even if you’ve to go a bit out of your way. It might not pay dividends right away, but customers remember these moments forever and will tell there friends, family and the outside world about it.

2. Customer Feedback is treasure, seriously!

There are only a few brands where a letter like that would not have gone straight to the bin. And that is because most companies today do not take customer feedback seriously, let alone what a 9-year-old wishes for.

While there exists a process for soliciting customer information, what happens in most cases is that it becomes a aimless routine without a tangible end goal. Customer feedback and insights collected should ideally find its way into board room meetings to shape organization-wide strategies and policies that have a positive impact on your customers’ experience. And unless you build an internal culture that respects and values customers’ perspective, feedback collection will merely turn out to be a waste of time and resources. In order to understand and keep in touch with customer aspirations and needs, you’ll have to turn feedback data into actionable insights.

3. It all starts from the top

The customer-centric culture that we so often talk about permeates throughout the Virgin Group, across all levels, thanks to Richard Branson. The little delightful gestures, the capacity to act on feedback requests, the empowerment of employees, are all the consequences of a committed leadership that genuinely wants customers to be happy.

You can’t bring about organization-wide change if the people at the top don’t take the initiative and set the vision clearly. Richard Branson is obsessed with giving customers a great experience whenever they interact with Virgin. This obsession transcends any form of hierarchy and every employee is empowered in their own way to create experiences for customers and not just sell a product or service.

At the end of the day, Virgin wanted to bring a smile to the kid’s face. And they did just that. Creating memorable moments within great experiences – that’s how you can gain customers for life, customers who will not be easily swayed by competition. And once you are able to connect with the customer on an emotional level, there’s nothing like it!

Do you have a delight story to share? Do leave it in the comments below!

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