The “Wow!” Factor

You may have recently noticed a number of books and articles about a concept called the “Wow” factor. Many consultants and business experts have been talking about this for years, but it was probably Tom Peters who really brought it to the forefront.

The “Wow!” factor boils down to one thing; exceeding the expectations of the customer. It goes past great customer service. In short, the basic idea is to bring the element of surprise into your business. The concept of Wow! yells out, “Surprise! Aren’t you glad you bought from me, decided to do business with our company, etc.!”

There are many ways you and your organization can do it. Here are a few examples to illustrate the Wow! factor.

Last year I bought my wife a new car. Normally the quest for purchasing a new car is not one I look forward to, and this time was no exception. However, to my surprise, the experience was great, and the follow-up even greater. The owner of the dealership knew I was surprising my wife with the car. He called the next day, on a Sunday, to see how she liked the surprise. Wow! A few days later we received a thank you note and a fruit basket. Wow!

Recently my wife and I went out to eat at a nice restaurant. Even though we had ordered a salad and main course, the waiter thought we should have an appetizer. He brought us each a sample of three different appetizers. He said they were so good, that he didn’t want us to miss the opportunity to at least try what the chef is really good at doing. Wow! By the way, guess what we will order when we go back to his restaurant? And, guess who got a big tip?

Kellogg Business School professor and marketing guru Dr. Lou Stern talks about his recent purchase of a new car. On his way home he turned on the stereo system.Wow! He couldn’t believe how great it sounded. All he wanted was a nice car, good service and a luxuriously smooth ride. He knew the radio/stereo system would be good, but he didn’t think it would “blow him away.” This was simply a surprise bonus.

Bill Gates, multi-billionaire and chairman of Microsoft, recently wrote a book on the future of technology, The Road Ahead. Surprise! The book included a CD with the entire book and more on it to be popped into your nearest computer. He predicts that books on CD ROM will be the norm in the future. And shouldn’t his book “practice what it preaches.” If you travel with a laptop computer that has a CD ROM drive you don’t have to even take the book with you. Just take the disk and read from the screen. Wow!

Last year I bought a fruit basket for someone from Harry and David. They are a high end catalog retailer that sells food through the mail; fruit baskets, “Pasta of the Month,” etc. One day the mail came and I was surprised to find a gift box from Harry and David. I couldn’t wait to open it to find out who sent me this delicious box of chocolate truffles. Surprise! It was a gift from Harry and David saying thank you for doing business with them. Wow!

The list of examples can go on and on. The “Wow” comes from, “Surprise! You weren’t expecting this, were you?” How can you build this into your product or service? It doesn’t always have to be something tangible that might cost a lot of money. It can be a follow up phone call or a simple thank you note. It is meant to make the customer feel good about doing business with you. I remember getting a phone call from a restaurant that some friends and I had been to the night before. I wondered why they would be calling me. Did I leave my credit card there? No, they just wanted to follow up with me to make sure I had a great meal and experience at their restaurant. That’s all. Wow!

Putting Wow! into what you do and sell isn’t very hard, but it is extremely effective. And I guarantee that for the receiver, it is a MOMENT OF MAGIC!