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Dear Managers: How to Create Unique Customer Experiences


Tue Apr 19 2016

Dear Managers: How to Create Unique Customer Experiences

It’s a familiar litany: We have too many competitors. Our pricing is higher than our competition. They have more locations. Their website is better. Their product is superior. Customers are harder to find and keep. Excuse after excuse for why success is elusive.

The fact is that we live in a “get it anywhere, anytime for any price” world. That is not going to change any time soon—maybe never. It’s also a fact that price and product is almost flat between market segment competitors. So, what can you do to set yourself apart from this maddening hoard?


Take a page from the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington. Even though it is located within 100 yards of three other fish markets that sell the same fish for the same price, it is considered some of the most successful 1200 square feet of retail space in America. How do they do it? By creating unique customer experiences that cannot be duplicated by the competition. What makes this possible? The fishmongers working at the market create these experiences.

Anyone can create unique experiences for their customers. First, you need to examine your culture. Is it one that promotes excellence? Next, make sure you hire people that not only thrive in that culture, but also enhance it. Do they have passion for the job and its requirements, or are they just warm bodies?

Finally, have an appropriate probationary period to make sure they get “it” and perform on the job. Look to the other team members to get a feel for this person. Their feedback is invaluable, because they are the ones working closely with them. Once you have the right people in place, you can start creating unique customer experiences.

Here’s a breakdown of more best practices.

Choose Your Attitude

The customer experience is dependent on every employee. In other words, it’s vital that everyone—not just leaders—understand how important their job is to the success of the company. For example, at a restaurant, even the dishwasher needs to know how important their work is. Are they washing dishes or providing a germ-free environment from which to consume food? As a manager, are you doing everything you can to show your team how important their role is to the success of the business?


Know What You Are Really Selling

Ensure that everyone understands the product behind the product. What is it employees are really doing or selling? Let’s consider the restaurant example again. Granted, they are selling food, but the experience is just as important—location, lighting, music, and so on. With the right atmosphere and service, a restaurant can provide that respite from the daily grind.

Have Some Fun

People don’t want to be served by grumpy people, so try to play at work. What’s more, include the customer in the fun. This revs up the energy, and your own enthusiasm for the job. Simply stated, you want to foster a culture in which people are excited about going to work and working hard, and play helps. Remember the saying: “Work made fun gets done.”

Be There for the Customer—and Each Other

It’s essential to create an environment where people act like they want to there—not somewhere else. As the manger, pay attention to and understand why your employees come to work every day, so you can remind them and help them know and live the vision and mission of the organization. But know this for yourself, too.

Then start to look for opportunities to create unique customer experiences. You’ll see opportunities more objectively, have a clearer understanding of what the customer wants, and be able to take ownership of the situation and make it happen.

Make Someone’s Day

It’s important to hear customers say, “Wow! I like your business.” It’s just as important to have team members say, “Wow! I like working with you.” Remember, there are only two types of experiences you can create—good or bad. There is no “okay” experience.


Think of it in these terms: physical vs. emotional. For example, if a restaurant has great food but the service is indifferent, the diner probably will rate it a bad experience. But if the food is adequate but the service is exceptional, it’s likely perceived as a good dining experience. Emotion trumps physical every time.

Bottom Line

The World Famous Pike Place Fish Market has turned its customers into a marketing juggernaut by creating stories that are reinforcing their culture and customer experience proposition—being world famous. This is so important to them that they changed the name of the market to include “world famous.” By doing so, each employee is reminded everyday what they are delivering and what customers will expect when they go there.

No doubt, the competitive marketplace is fiercer than ever. But using The FISH! Philosophy to create unique customer experiences can help set you and your company apart from the competition.

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