How small details earn big fans

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Attention to detail is a competitive edge for some of the most beloved companies in the world. It’s why the folks at Disney World teach their janitors to draw characters with mops and why W Hotels replace their elevator rugs three times a day. It’s the kind of stuff that customers actually notice and tell their friends about.

Here are some detail-oriented word of mouth strategies that get people talking:

1. Be proactive about surprise and delight
2. Understand your customers’ needs
3. Make lots of small improvements to customer experiences

1. Be proactive about surprise and delight

Sometimes opportunities to surprise and delight your customers fall into your lap. More often, however, you have to look for these opportunities. Eleven Madison Park, an upscale restaurant in New York, does it by Googling the names of their guests. For example, according to their maître d’, if they know a guest is from Montana, they’ll pair them with a server from Montana, or if they know a couple is celebrating an anniversary, they’ll try to find out which anniversary. The more their servers know their customers, the more likely they are to do something personalized and special for them.

2. Understand your customers’ needs

There’s no lack of artisan coffee shops near downtown Chicago (or in almost any big city). So how does Big Shoulders Coffee stand out? Not with fancier coffee or snobbier baristas, but with their extra effort to care for their customers. For example, they have monitors inside the shop that display arrival times for public transportation for commuters. They also encourage their baristas to take the time to get to know their customers and make their coffee the way they want it, without any judgment. These details focus on what really matters to their customers — not their competitors. Just check out their Yelp reviews.

3. Make lots of small improvements to customer experiences

Sometimes it’s the tiniest details — not big advertising campaigns — that will inspire customers to talk about you. For example, Gap fitting rooms have a dimmer switch so you can see how their clothes look on you in different lighting. That’s a small change to the normal customer experience, but it’s one that inspires people to tell their friends. You never know what customer experience detail will motivate your customers to spread word of mouth. Try improving lots of little details like these and see what works.


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  1. Judi Radice Hays

    They key here is consistent proactive marketing. Paying attention to the little details yields giant results. Great article.

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