Make Service Memorable By Adding a Souvenir


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Watching a skilled magician is an exercise in awe. Try as we might to see through the sleight of hand, we come away amazed. We know there is a rational explanation. But in our hearts we aren’t so sure. It leaves us with a feeling of enchantment. Innovative service––service that it takes customers breath away–is strikingly parallel to fine stage magic.

One service magic technique underutilized is focusing on the “outcome after the outcome.” It means thinking about what the customer will be doing with the service outcome after you’ve done what the customer expected. Think of it as the service version of a souvenir! “We try to guess what is beyond our customers’ purchase,” says John McClesky of the men’s suits department at the Nordstrom’s Dallas store. “Recommending a tie with a new sports jacket is typical sales talk. But if you learn your customer is buying the jacket for a cruise, you might explore dressy shorts, an ascot, or a Panama hat.”

Consider the possibilities of what customers might be doing, thinking, or feeling after you have met their presented need. My wife purchased a new car. A week later she turned on her car radio for the first time and discovered the service tech had programmed in her radio stations from her trade-in!

What small gesture would make your customer swoon? A bit of subtle conversation about life after the met need can often surface opportunities. Instead of asking, “Would there be anything else?” ask, “What have we not thought of that would make your hotel stay really special?” Make your queries reach into the future for clues ripe for innovative service. What do customers’ outcomes after the outcome teach you about ways to surprise them?

Chip Bell
Chip R. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group ( and a renowned keynote speaker and customer loyalty consultant. Dr. Bell has authored several best-selling books including The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service and, with John Patterson, Take Their Breath Away. His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, will be released in February.