Where’s The Wow?

Who remembers Clara Peller? She’s the “where’s the beef” lady from the Wendy’s commercials.

The picture sleeve of a "Where's the beef...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think of her from time to time – well, maybe not of her but of the question she asks. I think of it a little differently, however, as you can probably tell from the title of today’s screed. Let me explain.

20 years ago, Tom Peters started his book “The Pursuit of Wow” with ”Being average has never had much appeal.”  If anything, I think that’s more true today given the explosion in choices customers have.  In addition, businesses have much less control over the information consumers receive about their brand, and word of mouth, according to a recent study by Nielsen, carries more weight than the company’s information anyway. I think it’s just as much about “wow” than it is about “what.”  The latter is the questions potential customers ask about your brand, your product, and your customer service.  The former is what gets them coming back and telling their friends (earned media as it’s fashionably called these days…).

So what is wow?  To me it’s understanding and setting customer expectations before they get there and exceeding them on a consistent basis.  You do this via data and through monitoring the various media channels, especially social.  Brands that are proactive in reaching out to unhappy customers via social channels and fixing the problem post-haste is one example.  Encouraging happy customers to post accurate reviews is another way (they shouldn’t over-promise on your behalf – that’s not helpful!).  Your challenge is to deliver beyond those expectations on a consistent basis.

When you promise to get a repair person someplace, they need to be there on time.  When you promise to deliver a product – say high-speed internet – it’s not good enough for the product to be fast – it needs to exceed the level of speed you promised.  I was promised some coupons from a brand that did a great job of proactively reaching out after a negative tweet from me.  That was a month ago, I don’t have anything, and now the positive experience is turning negative again – the “wow” is gone.

Wow doesn’t need to be overwhelming.  A great sunset is a wow, as is a quiet afternoon.  They’re subtile but they stand out because they exceed our expectations developed over the many other similar experiences we’ve had (a smoggy, cloudy evening sunset or an afternoon filled with the daily noise that makes us all a little nuts).  By stepping back and asking ourselves “where’s the wow” we become better businesses.  Agreed?

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