57 Insights from leading brands and experts on what it takes to deliver a Wow customer experience: Part 1


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Over the course of the last 18 months and since How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing was published I’ve continued to interview (around 60 since it was published) a range of leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, thinkers and academics around what it takes to deliver better customer service and experience.

These interviewees, their organisations and those of their clients are responsible for generating billions in revenue every year, employ hundreds of thousands of people, serve and help to serve millions of customers, have taught thousands of students and have sold thousands and thousands of books.

And, I must say it’s been an honour and a privilege to speak to them all and I look forward to speaking to many more like them in the coming months and years.

However, since the publication of my book, and towards the end of each of these interviews, I have been asking each interviewee to share their perspective on what Wow service/experience means to them.

That’s been a lot of fun to do and really interesting but after doing that for around 18 months now I thought that it would be useful to compile their collective insights into one post.

But, when I did that I realised it would make a really, really long post.

So, I have decided to publish them as two long but, hopefully, not too long posts as a way of highlighting their expertise, perspectives and insights.

My hope is that their individual and collective insights challenge, educate and inspire more leaders, more people and more organisations to step up and deliver their own version of Wow in 2018.

So, here goes with Part 1:

Alison Esse, Co-founder and Director of The Storytellers, a culture change consultancy, says that Wow service creates an experience that makes you want to go and talk about it to someone else in a positive way. She goes on to say that the best way to create this is for leaders to

“Get back to the floor and talk to your employees and your customers and find out what is really going on. Don’t sit in an ivory tower. Get back to the floor, be inspired by them and start to involve them more in a conversation.”

Jan Jensen, Chief Marketing Officer at Cxense, a Saas software firm is helping leading media, e-commerce and consumer brands to take control of their audience data to deliver more engaging and personalized user experiences, when asked what wow service/experience meant to him gave a multi-part answer in which he said:

  • Wow service and experience is:
    • When anyone from a large corporation calls me back as promised – You don’t need to do much but you do need to do a little.
    • When a company gets to know you and knows what you like. Jan cites a Norwegian hotel he stays at that always puts him in the same room, the room is always at 19C and they know the things that he likes.
    • Jan also cites an example from a firm that sent him an email opting him out of their newsletter/service as he was not active. He then opted back in and is now a more active user.

Ben Velker, Senior Vice President of Growth at Edgenet, a Saas software firm that provides retailers, distributors and suppliers with the ability to manage and improve their product content, was short and sweet when I asked for his perspective. He said that Wow service is all about empathy.

Rob Siefker, Senior Director of Customer Service Operations at Zappos.com and one of the speakers at Zappos Insights, a team within the Zappos Family of Companies created to help share the Zappos Culture with the world and to inspire positive change in the workplace, suggested that when it comes to delivering your own version of Wow service/experience organisations should think about the following:

  • What is the current make-up of your team and how can that team deliver on what you expect and what you want to create for your customers?
  • If the team needs to change then you need to figure out a way of making that happen.
  • Being obsessive about the hiring and on-boarding of new employees.
  • Look at your training and how much power you give to your employees to make the right decision for customers.
  • If there is a limitation on what your employees can do then you have to question whether or not that really makes sense for you.
  • Systematically look at whether you are truly trying to make the experience for your customers easy or do you have unintended hoops that they have to go through to be a customer.
  • Generate a strong culture, whatever that means for you. Create something that you are proud of.

Lee Evans, Chief Executive Officer & Founder of SurveyMe, a fast, flexible and closed-loop approach to receiving, recording and rewarding ‘Point of Experience’ feedback, said that Wow service/experience for him is comprised of a series of things:

  • Availability and accuracy are dis-satisfiers i.e this is what you need to do to stay in business.
  • Partnership and advice is where the Wow opportunity exists and firms should look to build and strengthen their relationships with their customers. To do that, ask your team what three things they would like customers to say about the business and then empower them on the spot to be able to deliver that.

David Kalt, founder and CEO of Reverb.com, an online marketplace where musicians go to buy and sell guitars and other music gear, says that Wow service/experience occurs when a customer feels like they are buying from their best friend and there is an emotional connection. Delivering that will mean that those customers will go out and defend that business/brand and will become your best form of marketing.

Jim Barnett, CEO, co-founder and Chairman of Glint, an employee engagement platform, says that Wow service for him is where someone not only meets my needs but also anticipates what they will be in the future.

Professor Birgit Mager, Professor for Service Design at KISD, the Köln International School of Design and the president of the International Service Design Network (SDN). says that the wow of today is the expectation of tomorrow and that companies should be asking themselves whether they want to actually wow their customers or is it enough to fulfill customer expectations in a solid and caring way.

Matthias Murin, Group Manager Customer Service at DocMorris, a Dutch online and mail-order pharmacy that provides medicines primarily to customers in Germany, says that to help deliver wow service/experience companies should use the tons of data that we have at our disposal on buying behaviour, complaints etc etc to act more proactively to reduce, mitigate or solve customer problems before they show up for the customer.

Chris Lewis, CEO of global communications agency, LEWIS and author of the book: Too Fast to Think: How to Reclaim Your Creativity in a Hyper-connected Work Culture, says that Wow is all about discovery and not prescription.

Morris Pentel, Chairman & Founder of the Customer Experience Foundation, a leading organisation in Customer Experience Science, says that it could be argued that Wow service/experience should start with the process of just getting things right and being brilliant at the basics. He goes on to add that a ‘Wow’ is something that is a surprise or something that is outside of initial expectations and is relevant to the customer. More specifically, a Wow is a gift, an act of generosity/kindness or even an human connection. So, if firms want to generate more wow moments for their customers then they should empower their front line people to deliver these sorts of things.

Donna Peeples, Chief Customer Officer of Pypestream.com, an enterprise mobile messaging platform that features the use of intelligent automation and chatbot technology, says that Wow service/experience has a lot to do with a way of working and it all starts with the employee. Customers first, employees always.

Bill Taylor, co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company and author of Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things In Extraordinary Ways, says that Wow service or experience shows up when he encounters a business that does something that he truly did not expect, is memorable and is worth talking about in the future.

Liz Graham, Vice President of Sales and Service at Wayfair, one of the world’s largest online destinations for the home, says that Wow service/experience is all about understanding the customer. So, for example, if a customer calls and wants to return something….by all means help them do that but aim to go further and better understand what went wrong with the thing they want to return as you may still be able to help them.

Rob Pace, founder and CEO of HundredX, a technology platform that provides major brands with listening solutions and collects real-time feedback from customers and employees, says that Wow service comes about when companies close the loop on the feedback that they receive.

PV Kannan, co-founder and CEO of [24]7, a customer engagement platform, kept it short and to the point when he said Wow service/experience is relative for every single company.

Dr. Simon Moore, a Chartered business and consumer psychologist and CEO of Innovationbubble, a new type of insights agency, says that when it comes to wow service or experience people often think they have to do something big or magical. However, his view is that it is not about big or magical things but that it is much more cumulative. Therefore, it is all about the lots of little things that you do and how they all gel together. And that is what creates wow.

Professor Jan van den Ende, Professor of Management of Technology and Innovation at RSM (Rotterdam School of Management), Erasmus University, says that a wow product is normally associated with something that is very high-end/expensive. However, Jan is also a fan of and considers disruptive products as delivering a business wow too.

Joshua Feast, co-founder and CEO of MIT-spinoff Cogito Corp, that has developed artificial intelligence (AI) technology that delivers real-time emotional intelligence feedback for customer service professionals which helps them have better conversations with customers, says that Wow service/experience comes about when you call a business and you feel, as a customer, that that person is really listening, is empathetic and that it is a fresh interaction for that person regardless of the number of calls that they may have already taken that day.

Rohit Bhargava, a trend curator, author of five best selling books (including the Wall Street Journal bestseller “Non-Obvious”) and founder of the Influential Marketing Group (IMG), says that Wow service/experience for him comes about when you teach people in customer service to be proactively honest in ways that they don’t have to be.

Amy Downs, the Chief Happiness and Customer Success Officer of Lifesize, a provider of enterprise & business-class video, audio, & web conferencing solutions, says that Wow service comes about when you deliver more value than the customer anticipated.

Ryan McCarty and Scott Moorehead, founders of Culture of Good and the authors of a new book: Build a Culture of Good, said that Wow experience come about through doing the things that other companies are not willing to take the risk on, doing it for the right reasons and doing it so that it gives employees and customers a ‘why’ that speaks to more than a financial transaction or a pay-check.

Anthony Abbatiello, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and global leader of Deloitte Leadership, says that Wow service/experience for him is all about anticipatory or proactive service.

Brian MacNeice, Managing Director, Kotinos Partners & Co-Author of Powerhouse: Insider accounts into the world’s top high-performance organizations, illustrated what Wow service/experience means to him through an example from the St Louis Cardinals:

  • He attended a 15 minute meeting of the ushers on game night where they were briefed on who they were playing, who’s playing, who’s injured, results coming into the game and the sort of tactics that might be employed etc etc. rather than the expected briefing on health and safety concerns etc. The reason behind this is that it allows the ushers to talk in a more informed way with each of the fans as they take their tickets and escort them to their seats. It also allows them to ask the fans to get behind the team, given the likely strategy that would be employed during the game. This creates a much better fan experience and the ushers are helping the crowd become the ’12th man’.

Professor Michael Solomon, Professor of Marketing in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and the author of Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being, says that Wow service/experience for him is all abut over delivering and surprising the customer in a pleasant way and one of the best ways to do that is through personalisation or customisation.

Todd Eby, Founder & CEO of Success Hacker, a boutique customer success advisory firm, says that when it comes to wow service/experience, he thinks about the idea of the frugal wow. As an example of this in practice…. imagine you work in a high tech environment, say, and you have had to keep a customer on the phone for a long time (two hours, say) fixing a complex technical problem. In order to do that they may have had to skip lunch. In this situation and to create a wow, Todd suggests that you should pay for lunch to be sent to them. Another idea he mentions is the idea of strategic gifting, where you can send customers really thoughtful gifts to help ‘move things along’.

Dave O’Flanagan, CEO & Co-Founder at Boxever, a data science and customer intelligence technology company that helps airlines and travel companies leverage the data they already have, says that the wow comes in all the little micro moments that are connected.

Ketti Salemme, Senior Communications Manager at TINYpulse, an employee engagement platform that combines pulse surveys, peer recognition, and performance reviews, believes that Wow service/experience is when someone truly listens to you and takes your feedback seriously.

Blake Morgan, a customer experience futurist, fellow Forbes contributor and the author of More Is More: How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Experiences, says that Wow service and experience for her is not complicated and it is all about listening. If a company shows that they listen and care then they will have won her over.
If you have got this far. Nice work.

We’re only half way though my list but, even so, I hope that you are able to see the breadth of perspectives and depth of insights on offer.

I also hope that you can see how delivering a Wow service/experience is something that is very attainable with a clear strategy, focus and dedication.

Look out for Part 2 in a few days.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.


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