The writer shares how businesses can win over customers for life with continuous ‘Moments of Magic’
As my family and I sit to discuss about the options available with us for buying a new car, I recollect an incident and the ‘moment of magic’ which my family encountered when we had purchased our existing car a few years back.
My then seven year old daughter was attracted towards the beautiful big teddy that was placed atop a new car displayed inside a renowned car showroom here in Goa. We were there to take delivery of our car. Although she was excited about the new car we had purchased that was ready for delivery outside the showroom, she was much more excited and attracted towards the big teddy. When she communicated her intentions of having that teddy, like good parents we told her that the teddy is meant only for display and cannot be taken away and also that it is not on our car, hence we cannot take it. Though she did listen to us, she was not fully convinced and kept on gazing at the teddy on and often. Time and again she went closer to the teddy, touched it, caressed it and kept it back on the car. The sales executive who was dealing with us was busy completing the final delivery formalities for handing over the car. And my little girl was engrossed with that big fat teddy. After completing all the formalities, we went out to do the religious formalities before taking over of the keys of the car and driving away. That part finished, sweets were distributed, and photos clicked, however all the while my daughter’s attention was inside on that teddy. After all formalities, ceremonies and greetings were over we sat in the car and were about to zoom away…. when I noticed the sales person walking towards us with that big fat teddy in his hands. He came close to the car, opened the door and handed over the teddy to my daughter saying ‘it’s for you…..’ One could only imagine the joy and the happiness that was on the face of my little angel then. That was the happiest moment for all of us and not anymore the purchase of the new car.
I really don’t know whether the company bore the cost of the teddy or the sales person. Whoever it was, that was the greatest ‘moment of magic’ for all of us. The salesperson could understand the emotions of this child, and by his actions, had managed to make one family a loyal customer to its dealership. Creating ‘moments of magic’ simply requires the sales person being present there and observant about the opportunities all around and taking right actions. Even today when I thought of purchasing a new car our first choice was this very dealership, and we all remembered the ‘moment of magic’ we encountered and the happiness thereafter.
Moments of magic
In every business, including e-commerce companies, the customers have to interact with the company’s personnel, the physical set up of the company (website in case of e-com company), and the processes involved. A customer forms his/her opinion about the company and the decision to continue doing business, based upon their interactions/encounters with all these aspects of the business, finally resulting in a satisfied or dissatisfied customer. Happy and satisfactory service encounters with any aspect of business, however remote, which have opportunities to form impressions/opinions, called as ‘moments of truth’, increase the chances of customers staying with a business. ‘Moments of truth’ are further divided as ‘moments of magic’ and ‘moments of misery’. More the ‘moments of magic’ (those positive moments during the interactions, where the customer gets happiness and/or pleasant surprises), encountered by a customer, more the chances of them staying with business, and on the flip side, more the ‘moments of misery’, (those negative moments during the interactions where the customer gets unhappiness and/or unpleasant surprises), higher the chances of customers defecting from business. Thus, the art of retaining customers is essentially the art of creating magic by every business, for which, continuously ensuring that every encounter with a customer turns out to be a ‘moment of magic’ is crucial. Every aspect of the business that the customer interacts with, whether it is the employee, physical infrastructure, website or a telephone call, gives an opportunity for the customer to form an opinion about the company’s service, and many ‘moments of magic’ put together, along with the product/service offering, forms the overall satisfaction of the customer. A ‘moment of magic’ could be as simple as an employee smiling and greeting the customer as s/he enters the company, a ‘thank you’ and ‘visit again’ request as the customer exits the company or could be as exciting and memorable as mentioned in the incident narrated above.
In 1986, Jan Carlzon, the former president and CEO of Scandinavian Airlines coined this term ‘moments of truth’ in his book by the same title, wherein he narrates his experience by merely controlling and managing these ‘moments of truth’, thereby generating chiefly ‘moments of magic’, how he managed to turn around an airline that was failing and loss-making, to be one of the most respected airlines in the industry. He could do it because he believed in the power of ‘moments of magic’ and created a culture in his organization revolving around creating ‘moments of magic’ with every customer and at every stage. Whether it was a telephone call to make reservation, check-in process, boarding process, on-board treatment or the interactions at exit point at the destination, customers experienced only ‘moments of magic’.
‘Moments of magic’ could be created by as simple action as a smile. Employees of Disney Land are trained to create this magic when they interact/encounter with every customer. They follow a rule of 10 feet and 5 feet, whereby at a distance of 10 feet from the customer, irrespective of where the employee comes across the customer, the employees are required to smile or give a pleasant facial expression and as the customer approaches 5 feet, they are required to acknowledge customers verbally. Every such pleasant encounter creates a ‘moment of magic’ and contributes in forming the customer’s belief of excellent service and ultimately high satisfaction.
While ‘moments of magic’ are good and should be deliberately created, ‘moments of misery’ should be consciously avoided. At times, it is beyond ones control and customers do encounter negative moments. Such instances need to be viewed as an opportunity to show how good and caring the organization is by turning these ‘moments of misery’ into ‘moments of magic’.
Creating ‘moments of magic’
Some useful ways to create ‘moments of magic’ among customers:
- Create a fantastic first interaction: Irrespective whether it is a first time customer or a loyal customer, the very first interaction has to be most positive and pleasing.
- Never say ‘no’ to a customer: Every employee should have thorough knowledge of the products/service they deal with. Even if they don’t have an answer for a particular query the customer has, never give a negative answer; find out the information and pass it to the customer.
- Communicate to please: Effective communication with customers, listening to them and understanding their requirements and needs first, and then providing with solutions is a very critical aspect to create ‘moments of magic’. Providing all essential information sought, and more, that may help the customer, will certainly make the customer happy.
- Build personal rapport: Getting to know customers at a personal level and building a strong personal rapport goes a long way in creating the magic of happiness. The pleasantries exchanged, the enquiry about family members, remembering and wishing on special days of celebrations, remembering their favourite products or type of service etc. helps a lot in creating ‘moments of magic’.
- Employee motivation and enthusiasm: A motivated and enthused employee automatically creates an environment of positive energy around and yes, it is contagious, the positive energy spreads among customers as well. The ‘feel good factor’ in the air makes everyone happy. Companies will have to put extra efforts to create an environment of ‘self-motivation’ and ‘attitude to please’ among its employees.
- Acknowledge mistakes and rectify: Being quick in acknowledging mistakes, or failed service, if any, that may give rise to a ‘moment of misery’, and then fixing the problem most efficiently, maybe by giving slightly more benefit to the customer in an attempt to create a ‘moment of magic’, instils a confidence in the customer about the commitment and genuineness of the company, and that contributes in long term trust and satisfaction.
- Sustainability and self-discipline: Finally, self-discipline of everyone in the company and deliberate attempts to sustain the culture and attitude of creating ‘moments of magic’ at every opportunity is very important.
The shopping and consumption patterns have evolved over time with customers expecting excellent service delivery, easy and satisfactory processes, attractive and cool ambience, courteous and helpful personnel, in addition to excellent product/service quality and value for money. Hence, creating ‘moments of magic’ more often, every time and everywhere, by everyone who interacts with a customer is important for companies to satisfy and retain customers.