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From the Director - September/October 2014

Dear Readers,

In my past two letters, I’ve shared some insights and thoughts about customer experience and what makes us loyal customers of a service. Any interaction with a service or organization has abefore, during and after, and this letter is about the after.

I buy much of my wardrobe from a store that I have never actually visited. I don’t know what their store looks like (or if they even have one) because they’re in another country. I bought my first item from them more than seven years ago when their clever catalog was accidentally delivered to my mailbox. I love the style, fabrics and cut of the clothes, but I also like the sassy “voice” used to describe their offerings.  Purchasing from the website was easy, and they offered free shipping and free returns. I felt fabulous in my new purchases­­—just as their shipping label said I would.

After a few subsequent purchases, I received a postcard from the owner of the company thanking me for my business. But it wasn’t just a regular postcard; it was one of those biodegradable cards with little embedded seeds that sprout if you remember to water it. Cool, huh? Well, I thought so because it was unexpected but fun—just like their clothes!—and the experience of shopping with them. I was hooked.

Most companies understand the need to have a good before to attract customers, and to provide a great experience during to impress them. But afters are often missed opportunities to reinforce your brand and to solidify a customer’s relationship and loyalty. They can be follow-up phone calls or emails, so they don’t have to be expensive. But they need to be thoughtful.

I recently did a customer experience workshop for county government staff and heard an incredible example of an after experience. A lovely county employee, whose job it is to assign street addresses, received a request from a disabled resident who was building a new home. She not only assigned the address but guess what that new homeowner also got in the mail afterwards? House numbers. When I asked her why she did that, she said “Well, I knew she’d have trouble going to get them on her own, so I just did it for her.” What a selfless, caring thing to do. And an amazing after.

There’s a joke that goes something like this: How do you know that you have a Southern woman at your party? You catch her in the bathroom writing the hostess a thank you note. While it doesn’t quite apply (the hostess should be thinking about the after, too), it’s a great reminder that thinking about the after of a customer experience is a great practice and can make a lasting positive impression.

Melanie Huggins  |  Executive Director

DIRECTOR’S PICKS:

I just finished:  Redeployment, by Phil Klay

I’m just starting:  Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

I can’t stop listening to:  Lazaretto, by Jack White

You don’t want to miss:  Teen Talent Show, where fabulous teens perform for prizes and bragging rights!

Read the full issue of Access.

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