The simple trick to delighting your customers

I don’t mean to brag but I give awesome gifts.

For example, here is what I gave my husband this year for Christmas.

No it’s not the plane (although I’m sure he would love that too), but flying lessons.

This isn’t what he asked for for Christmas.  Not at all.  When I asked him for his Santa list he mentioned that he needed some new shirts, and maybe an art piece that he saw a while back that he really liked.  He never said anything about flying – but that was his favorite gift this year.  How did I know that he would like it?  Shouldn’t I just have given him what he asked for?

Amazing gifts don’t have to be expensive.  Fifteen years ago, for my mother-in-law’s birthday, a bunch of us got together at her cottage and played “Happy Birthday To You” on kazoos, recorders, and Dollar Store tambourines.  She still talks about it to this day as the most amazing birthday gift ever.  “It showed that you know me so well!”  she said.

Therein is the secret to giving amazing gifts.

Know the person really well.

If you get that part right, I guarantee that you will naturally know what things will make them happy.

How do you get to know someone really well?  It’s so simple I’m almost embarrassed to spell it out:

  1. Talk to them
  2. Notice things about them that they might not mention out loud.

When it comes to customer experience, the product designers I work with try very hard to figure out the best way to delight customers.  One common strategy is to simply ask them “What would make you really happy?”.

While this approach is not bad (and a darn sight better than not talking to them at all), it is a pale imitation for simply knowing your customers really well. 

Like the best gifts, delighting your customers doesn’t have to be expensive to have impact.  One of the best examples of a customer delighter is this compelling confirmation email from CD Baby which informs you that  “Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.”

Total cost of development?  20 minutes and zero dollars.

They simply knew their customers well enough to realize that they would appreciate something more whimsical than the usual “Thank you for your order, let us know if it doesn’t arrive” email.  That single email has become famous since it was originally written over 10 years ago and it earned them legions of loyal fans.

So go ahead and ask your customers what they want for their Santa list, but don’t underestimate the value of getting to know them.

How do you get to know your customers really well?  It’s not that complicated really.

  1. Talk to them
  2. Notice things about them that they might not mention out loud.

This is much harder than simply asking them, but likely to be much more successful.

Customers after all, are people too.  


Photo Credit: Stefano Mortellaro  Creative Commons Commercial license