I was having a Viraligious© experience, reading a blog entry about Amazon exceeding customer expectations, when I thought of Tom Peters’ book The Pursuit of Wow!: Every Person’s Guide to Tupsy-Turvy Times, and why we’ve come expect poor service today. We endure long lines and disinterested big-box retail employees for perceived low prices. We become accustomed to long waits and indifferent operators in outsourced helplines. We anticipate our interactions to underscore our low view of customer service.
Why? We may as well champion mediocrity if we aren’t trying to achieve, or even inspire, excellence. If service is as poor as we perceive, shouldn’t we be all the more determined to provide exceptional service? Making customers happy represents a point of differentiation, a value-added that colors experiences in an all-too-grey time.
What about the world of higher education? When I do something nice for a student, they are sometimes shocked. Why? Are expectation-exceeding experiences really that rare for college students? Don’t we have the power to change that perception, to create Wow! on a regular basis?
Consider a prospective student who applies to several colleges, including yours. What if, in return for her considering your institution, you provide some kind of Wow! experience? Representatives of student clubs contacting her with the benefits of getting involved? A current student offering to be there, any time, to answer her questions? Some kind of premium, discount or opportunity (where legal) if she commits to your college by a certain date? If you exceed the expectations of prospective students, while other institutions treat them like American Gladiators contestants, what would that do to your conversion rate? Wouldn’t you love to have young brand evangelists before they’ve even enrolled in classes? There’s no better advertisement, after all, than a satisfied customer.
Is Wow! dead as a concept? Absolutely not. Whether you supported him or not, no campaign inspired more Wow! than Barack Obama. Gizmos like Apple’s iPhone and the Blackberry Storm provide sufficient Wow! that people want to pre-order the pricey products. Any Web surfer can stumble across a site, video or blog that injects a moment of Wow! into their day. Inspiring Wow! doesn’t have to be difficult nor expensive nor time-consuming … it just means thinking about what makes people happy.
So what have you done to make someone say Wow! lately?