Wow Customer Experiences – Defined and Delivered

In my book, The New Gold Standard, I defined “wow” experiences as “unique, emotionally engaging interactions that go beyond expectations and are readily recounted.”  As a result of that definition, I’m often asked to give examples of how “wow” service is different from good service.  So here is a beyond expectation, emotionally engaging, and easily related story…

I have the good fortune of working with some truly amazing leaders.  For example, I am consulting on a multi-year customer experience project with Bob Yarmuth the CEO of the Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant Franchise. As you may know, Sonny’s is the preeminent southern bar-b-q restaurant chain founded in Gainesville, Florida.

Recently, I became aware of a simple but “wowful” service experience delivered by Christie Schatz Director of HR for Sonnys. Christie was perusing customer communications when she ran across an email from a loyal customer who had recently moved into an area of Texas that did not have a Sonny’s restaurant.  In the email, the customer asked if Sonny’s had any plans of expanding into his community. Christie responded that unfortunately no plans were in place at this time and then she went on to advise him that he could order Sonny’s Bar-B-Q sauce online and it could be shipped to him in Texas.

As of that point, Christie’s response represented good service.  As a senior leader she was involved, responsive, direct, informative, and helpful.  In essence, her timely communication clearly met the expectations of most people.  But here’s where the “wow” comes in.  After she sent the email, Christie felt that she could easily do more so she called the customer, confirmed his mailing address, and let him know she would be sending Sonny’s sauce to him – WOW.

People who have a difficult time understanding the value of “wow” might say why would she do that?  The man can’t even frequent Sonny’s stores if there aren’t any in his new area.  Or maybe the skeptics would raise a scalability or fairness issue, “you cant’ send sauce to everybody, so why do it for this guy?”

In essence, Christie cost effectively did what was right for this engaged customer in that moment.  The byproduct of that relatively small act of caring certainly got my attention – thus I am doing this blog which will also be turned into a podcast and a short Youtube video.

From what I have gathered, the customer has since repeatedly expressed gratitude and will likely share his wow story with individuals who do live near Sonny’s franchises.  Furthermore, I suspect that customer will be more inclined to buy sauce online and/or advocate on behalf of the brand.

So that’s my wow story….what’s yours?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

1 Comment

  1. Tomissa on October 23, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I really enjoyed this article and appreciate your insight to putting the customer first.

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