People talk about customer experience all the time and they tell stories of big productions by national companies. But you don’t have to have a big budget to make a huge difference in the experience of your customers.
If you’ve attended a leadership or business conference, you may have heard this customer service story. But it’s a good one, so we’re going to share it again. She called it “Johnny the Bagger.”
The presenter at this conference had been hired by a large supermarket chain to lead a customer service program, and she shared this story that rose out of a presentation she had given to chain employees.
In her presentation to them she said, “All of you can make a difference.” Making a difference does not depend on your job description or power in the company. She challenged the employees to do something to make their customers feel special–create a memory that would make the customers come back.
A month later she received a phone call from a 19-year-old grocery bagger named Johnny. He proudly informed her that he had Down syndrome and shared what he had done with her advice.
“I liked what you talked about,” he said, “but at first I didn’t think I could do anything special. I’m just a bagger.”
Then he told her of his idea. Every night after he came home from work, he would pick a thought for the day or he’d make one of his own up. His dad helped him set it up on the computer and print copies. Johnny would cut out the copies and sign his name on the back. Then he’d bring them to the store the next day.
When he finished bagging someone’s groceries, he would put his thought for the day in the bag and say, “Thanks for shopping with us!”
Johnny was providing a very unique experience for his customers.
The Power of the Difference
A month later the store manager called the presenter and said, “You won’t believe what has happened! Today, I found a crowd of customers in the line where Johnny bags. His line was three times longer than anyone else’s.” The manager said he tried to get people into other lines and they replied, “No, it’s okay–we want to be in Johnny’s lane–we want his ‘Thought for the Day’.”
The store manager was overwhelmed by watching Johnny make his customers happy. One of Johnny’s customers said, “I used to shop in your store once a week, but now I come in every time I go by to get Johnny’s ‘Thought for the Day’.”
Difference Inspires Difference
A few months later, the store manager called the speaker again, saying, “Johnny has transformed our store. When the floral department has a broken flower or unused corsage, they find an elderly customer or a little girl and pin it on them. Everyone is having fun creating memories!”
“Surprising” and “delighting” the customer have become marketing buzzwords but for businesses that are finding real ways to do this, they’re seeing some amazing results and creating raving fan customers.
Examples like this don’t cost much. They’re practically free and so easy to do. But these little differences are the types of things your customers don’t forget.
What are you doing to create a customer experience?