I once had a problem with my bank account and called the bank’s Customer Service department to find out what had happened. The representative didn’t know, but offered to check on it and call me back with an answer within a day or two. One day went by without an answer, as well as most of the second day. At around 3:00 p.m. on the second day, I received a call from her, informing me that she hadn’t gotten an answer yet, but didn’t want me to think she’d forgotten about me. She had just called to ease my mind and tell me she planned to keep trying and hoped to have an answer by the next day. WOW!
I was impressed by her actions, even though she hadn’t yet obtained the answer to my original question! In fact, chances were that I wasn’t going to be WOWed by the actual answer; I would probably be informed of what had happened and how the bank would correct it. No WOW there, although the potential for an “OW!” was huge if the bank didn’t do the right thing to correct the problem.
What WOWed me was the way the representative handled not just the initial call but the entire situation from beginning to end. She understood that the key to creating a WOW experience was in the nuance, realizing that the promise to call back within a day or two, regardless of whether she had an answer or not, was just as important as the answer she would eventually get and pass along to her customer.
Most people simply focus on getting the answer, not really paying attention to the experience in between the asking of the question and the communication of an answer. This allows them to create OK (at best) and OW (at worst) experiences for the customer before the answer is even communicated. But, if you want to create exceptional experiences for your customers – and for fellow employees, as well – remember that the experience starts at the first contact, the first promise… and doesn’t end until there are no more promises to break.