Creating a delightful customer experience is good, but I want you to be much more than good; I want you to be indispensable.
One of my newer coaching clients, Sam, called to tell me about closing a sizable tech services deal. He was very excited about how he had differentiated himself and delighted the customer, saying that he felt he was absolutely their trusted advisor and strategic partner now. I, of course, responded with, “Yay, you!”
My heart swells with pride every time I get one of these calls. However, the more I listened to Sam talk about what a great experience the customer had, the more I realized that he had missed some of the important nuances about customer experience. He didn’t understand the full picture of what personalized value is and what it does. We had talked about creating value and personalizing experiences throughout the customer’s buying journey. We discussed making sure that the presales experience was delightful for customers. God love him, he had gone and done just that, delighted his customer in the process of closing this big deal.
“The process of closing this big deal.” Say it out loud. It sounds like a one-and-done sort of thing, right? It feels finite. I needed Sam to understand an important detail that makes a huge difference in terms of shaping your performance and the customer’s perception: creating a delightful experience is not enough to differentiate you in the long term.
Cleo the Delightful
So, what is the difference between delight and endearment? Let’s look at a specific example of an experience that was delightful.
Last year, my family decided to do a summer “staycation” at a hotel called EMC2 in downtown Chicago. The hotel’s theme was sort of modern steampunk or industrial chic, which made it look great. The coolest part, though, was that the hotel had two real, functional robots, named Cleo and Leo, that could interact with guests (they were pretty fantastic, so I can’t call them bots. That’s the word for the evil ones—Cleo and Leo were cute). The robots were about three feet tall, had small screens to communicate messages, and they could deliver any small thing you needed to your room. These robots were so intriguing that even my aloof, too-cool teenagers were mesmerized.
Of course, we had to see the robots in action, so we used an app on the TV to order some shampoo. As soon as the order was placed, the kids ran into the hallway with their phones to document the adventure. They were so excited about the experience that they fought over who would take the video and who would take photos for Instagram (or Snapchat, or whatever the app-of-the-day was). A few minutes later, Cleo was at our room door, and her little screen gave us instructions on how to get the shampoo out of the compartment at the top. We lifted the lid, got our shampoo, and Cleo took her leave from us—but not until she confirmed that we had what we needed.
Cleo delighted us and the other hotel guests, her customers. She created a memorable experience. While writing this, I asked my kids the name of the robots and they immediately told me, adding, “That was the coolest thing.” That was an experience. It was delightful. And it’s over now. Sure, we remember the robot delivery, but it wasn’t meaningful enough for us to go back to that hotel again. Hell, it wasn’t even compelling enough to keep us from bitching about how much we paid to valet the car—that was criminal.
Again, a delightful experience isn’t enough.
I want you to be more than enough.
Going Beyond Delightful
I want you to become the be-all-end-all guide, coach, and problem solver for your customers. I think you can be the person they never forget, the one they come back to time and time again, regardless of where you or they work. I want them to be delighted by not just the experience: I want you to endear yourself to them so that they know that every experience with you will be a delight.
When you delight your customers, you do so for a period of time, but time passes and the powerful feeling of that moment goes with it. When you endear yourself to your customers, you create a more lasting impression. Delight is about experience; endearment is about YOU. A delightful experience can be imitated. A sales professional who has endeared themselves to a customer is inimitable. That sales professional will differentiate and, inevitably, beat the bots and the competition.
Don’t just focus on delighting your customer; make it your mission to endear yourself to your customer. You become dear to them by consistently creating and delivering personalized value and remarkable, delightful experiences. Endearing is a process through which you become “their person.” That’s a role no robot can play. It’s a nightmare for even the fiercest competitor to try to unseat you from an account where you have endeared yourself to the client.
When you personalize a customer’s experience and delight your customer through a sales cycle, they will remember you for it. When you repeatedly serve and delight them with personalized value, they won’t want to buy from anyone else—and you may even find your customers going out of their way to protect you when the competition comes along. That’s just what you do for people you hold dear.