How to Wow – Simple Acts That Make A Difference


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When it comes to customer experiences, there’s a vast difference between “good” and “wow.”

While “good” experiences meet customer expectations, “wow” experiences exceed them. “Wow” requires a business to do more than satisfy customers; it involves surprise, delight, and forging lasting connections.

In my book, The New Gold Standard, I expand on what it means to “deliver wow.” For this post, however, let’s use an example of “wow” from one of my clients, Sonny’s BBQ restaurants.

This renowned southern barbecue restaurant chain established in Gainesville, Florida, is a name most in the South will recognize, and the experience I’m about to share showcases the essence of creating a “wow” moment.

Christie’s “Wow” Touch

Christie Schatz, the Director of HR for Sonny’s, read an email from a dedicated Sonny’s customer who’d recently relocated to Texas. Unfortunately, Sonny’s BBQ did not have a presence in the community to which the customer relocated, and he asked Christie if there were plans to open a Sonny’s near him.

Christie promptly informed the customer there were no such plans but offered him the option to order Sonny’s BBQ sauce online for delivery.

Standard? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.

But Christie wasn’t content with her offer.

She took extra steps by calling the customer, confirming his address, and sending him a complimentary bottle of Sonny’s sauce. That’s a “wow” in a bottle.

Why “Wowing” Makes a Difference

Some might question Christie’s choice, considering the customer couldn’t frequent Sonny’s in his new location. Others might argue her actions aren’t scalable. But the heart of Christie’s “wow” moment isn’t about scaling; it’s about creating an emotional connection.

Christie sent more than a bottle of sauce, she sent the message, “You matter to us, irrespective of where you are.” I suspect this customer purchased Sonny’s BBQ sauce online, told others about Christie’s random act of kindness, and eagerly dined at Sonny’s whenever and wherever he could.

Takeaways for How to WOW

  1. Engage Personally: Often, it’s the simple, personal gestures that make a massive difference—a personal call, a handwritten note – those types of touches aren’t expected and are deeply appreciated.

  2. Anticipate Needs: Even if a customer isn’t explicitly asking for something, you’ll likely create a memorable experience if you anticipate and address a need.

  3. Value Every Customer: Whether they can frequent your establishment regularly or not, every customer deserves your best service.

  4. Share Stories: Encourage your team to share their “wow” stories. It can inspire others and foster a culture where going above and beyond becomes the norm.

  5. Evaluate Scalability: While not every “wow” moment can be scaled, it’s worth evaluating if elements of wow service can be incorporated broadly.

Christie’s sauce follow-through, while seeming minor, has ripple effects. I’ve shared the story here, and stories like it often get viral traction. The customer expressed his gratitude for Christie’s kindness, reporting that he has become an even more passionate advocate of Sonny’s. That is the power of “wow,” or as I like to call it, the ROW – the “Return On Wow.”

As you think about your customer experience delivery, I encourage you to ask yourself:

Are we merely satisfying customers or aiming to “wow” them? And more importantly, how are we ensuring we get maximal ROW – Return On Wow?

To learn more about how you can drive emotional engagement, please get in touch with me at

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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