Business is built by word of mouth ("wom") and the objective of every business is to create "ambassadors." Ambassadors are those folks who run around the countryside (literally or in cyberspace) telling stories about the good (or bad) services that they receive. I'm sure you know a few and you know how valuable they are. In today's wired world, with the likes of Facebook and Yelp, a positive or negative can be put before literally millions in nano-seconds.
For twenty years or better, I have been telling my clients that what patients/customers desire is to be WOWed. It is really only through a WOW that you create an ambassador. Thus, no WOW…no ambassador.
Now, the tricky part is to understand what will WOW your customer; and to avoid what I call the "non-WOW." Here are a couple of examples.
A few years ago, I received a holiday gift from a business owner who was pushing for my referrals. This was a very personal situation, in that I had been referring business to this firm for a number of years and then, for reasons secondary to this article but of a personal nature, my referrals stopped. The business owner recognized that he was no longer receiving my referrals and put on a full-court press to get back in my good graces. He reached out to me and we had a chat or two about the reasons behind my shift in thinking. He sent me a note. And come the holidays, he sent me a gift of chocolate. A big, big box of fancy smancy chocolates. Now, on the surface, perhaps I should have been grateful. But, for me, the gift represented the very disconnect that had caused my change of heart to begin with. You see, I'm diabetic. And giving me chocolate (in this case) only exacerbated the fact that this owner didn't take the time to learn about me and why I was no longer making referrals. Normally, such a gift would have been well-received and I would have gladly shared my largess with my team. The sender would have received a "thank you" and all would be good. But in this particular case, the gift actually represented the very disconnect that had arisen between us…and it turned into a Non-WOW.
Yesterday, I checked into the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City in preparation for today's Business of Eyecare Forum. Our curriculum is all about WOW, so this subject is top-of-mind for me. As our firm spends tens of thousands of dollars for each of these events, I often receive a nice amenity in my room; fruit and cheese; a bottle of wine, etc. In this particular case, the catering manager left her business card next to the gift. The gift consisted of two bottles of evian and a box of Carr's Water Crackers. Not to be ungrateful, but for the life of me I cannot understand why a catering manager would deliver bread and water as an amenity. And if you've ever had a Carr's Water Cracker, you know how dry they are. You'd think the catering manager would want me to experience some of the wonderful offerings that her department puts forth; perhaps examples of what they would serve to our guests today.
Simply stated, what might have been thought of as a WOW turned out to be a Non-WOW. They'd have been better off with nothing.
My message is simple. Think! A WOW is an unexpected surprise. Make sure it's well thought out and truly connects with the recipient. In both of these cases, a bit of research would have made a big difference.