Can you name any companies that go beyond tradition to create positive customer experiences?
One of the most iconic examples is Ritz-Carlton. No matter which one you stay in, guests expect -- and receive -- excellent, individualized service. They revolutionized what luxury hotel service looks and feels like, creating a gold standard that many luxury hotels now use.
Setting the stage
True, your community isn’t the Ritz-Carlton, but that doesn’t mean you should put customer experience on the back burner. How your members feel when they’re in the community can make or break their experience -- and the community’s success.
Think of it this way: when you see new emails, are you filled with anticipation to read them, or does your stomach turn in anxiety? Do you get excited when a new Facebook notification shows up? Apply this to any community member: when a daily digest pops up in a member’s inbox, or they log in and see discussions, how does that member feel? Anxious about work? Excited to see what’s been going on? Indifferent?
Creating the right environment can make or break a member’s experience and satisfaction. And what your members associate with the community, consciously or unconsciously, will affect their engagement. You want to create a positive experience and positive associations for members when they see your daily digest or community’s logo.
Here are a few top companies other than the Ritz-Carlton who’ve gone beyond tradition to create positive customer experiences:
Would you rather receive computer support from a random tech person or from a genius? When Apple opened its first store in 2001, experts predicted failure. But Apple proved them wrong. Rather than thinking strictly about numbers and profits, Apple thought about customer experience, always going back to their key question: “How do we enrich lives?” Hence the birth of their “geniuses,” who are equally adept at customer satisfaction as they are with fixing bugs.
But their success goes beyond customer support. Walking into an Apple store is an enriching experience -- it’s a fun, playful, interactive environment. You don’t just look at computers or watches. You’re encouraged to push all the buttons, record videos and play with their latest and greatest gadgets.
Now Apple stores are far from failure, with people camping outside for days before the release of a new product. Rather than a product, Apple stores are more like a club, where people flock and pay homage to the devices that power their lives.
Community tip: If Apple’s goal is to “enrich lives,” what’s your community’s goal (besides increasing value or ensuring ROI)? Once you decide, examine the community and ask yourself how (and if) it is furthering that goal and what you could further enhance. There’s nothing like a GIF discussion to boost moral or redesigning your library to be a “Community Guru Corner” to revitalize an old feature.
The quality of Starbucks’ coffee can be up for debate amongst die-hard coffee drinkers, but almost everyone -- even non-coffee drinkers -- has found themselves in a Starbucks.
Why is that?
People don’t only associate Starbucks with coffee. It’s a big part of what they do, but Starbucks and their shops are about much more. They’re about connection, free wifi, comfy chairs, patio umbrellas, reading the newspaper, and a wide variety of beverages and snacks. In some ways it’s a basecamp, an office away from the office, or a living room away from the house. Sure, coffee is where Starbucks started, but it’s become more than just a place to snag a quick jolt of caffeine -- it’s both a meeting ground for friends and place for solo contemplation.
Community tip: Listen to your members’ needs, and give them what they want. Your community may start off one way (as Starbucks did with coffee), but then you find your members need something different. As your community grows and changes, consciously allow it to evolve to better meet your members’ needs, which creates more value for them -- and more value for your organization. Maybe you planned for your community to be a formal, professional knowledge-sharing tool, but your members started using it for sharing funny stories about the craziest things they’ve seen in their jobs. Is that a bad thing? Not if it’s bringing value to your members by making them feel more connected to each other.
Have you ever been in a Disney Store and seen the looks of pure joy on all the children’s faces? That’s because Disney Stores aim to be the “best 30 minutes in a child’s day.” And, often, they succeed.
Everything in their store -- even the tiniest details -- further their mission. The language they use, the cast member uniforms, the fonts and Tinker Bell’s spells, all add up and facilitate the experience they want to create. Nothing is too small, and creativity is important.
Everything Disney does, from the store to their movies, parks and beyond, goes back to customer experience and making it top notch. They know how to create brand loyalty and a community of followers through experience.
A good friend of mine -- a grown adult with children of her own -- is a die-hard Disney fan, going to one of the parks or taking one of their cruises at least twice a year. She returns again and again because she can count on the “Disney experience.” Knowing her family will consistently receive excellent service, accommodations and amenities is all part of that Disney magic.
Community tip: Small details add up to a total experience. Make sure that everything, from the fonts and colors, to your actions, to the tone and language you use on the site and in the welcome emails, make your community the best 30 minutes (or more!) of your members’ day -- and the magical place they want to return to again and again.
Creating the community experience your members want
You don’t have to become the next Apple store or Starbucks, but their success stories have a lot to offer anyone who interacts with customers, clients or members regularly. What if your community could become a highlight of a member’s day? If the appearance of that daily digest in a user’s inbox each morning spurred excitement? If it’s the one place they knew they could always turn to for advice and answers, like a reliable friend?
Think about your community and its members. Talk to your users, figure out what drives them, what they need and want in a community. And then shape the community around those goals.