My friend and super-talented art director and illustrator, Soren Thieleman, sent me this text the other morning:
“Good morning Bruce. I’m at a small café in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and the door handle put a smile on my face. I haven’t tasted the food or had a sip of their coffee yet but I already like this place. It’s the power of a first impression and the impact of a creative surprise.”
I like this place too. Certainly enough to copy the name into the restaurant list on my iPhone and write a blog post about it.
What I like the most is not just the attention to detail of the door handle but the obvious delight that went into creating and sharing it.
Delight is such a simple thing to enjoy but seems so hard to create, especially in a commercial environment. And yet, when it crosses our path, we know something special happened and we remember it.
I still remember my first flight on Southwest Airlines when the announcer warned us to be careful opening overhead compartments because “shift happens.”
I remember waiting in line for lunch at Nordstrom’s restaurant when an apron-clad cook handed out small paper cup samples of their soup of the day.
I remember when the Wilford Brimley lookalike stable hand at the Yosemite equestrian center showed me how to get down to the lake to read my book while my wife and kids went horseback riding (I’ve been on horseback twice – the first time and the last time!).
It’s that gracious gesture, what Cajuns call “lagniappe,” that turns an ordinary occurrence into a memorable one. It’s the surprise you find in the bottom of the Cracker Jack box, the smile on Julia Roberts’ face when Richard Gere snapped the jewelry box shut in Pretty Woman, the complimentary copy of Winnie The Pooh that came with your iPad, the rainbow after a rainstorm, the dollar bill you find in an old pair of pants, or The Beatles’ song “Her Majesty” which plays 14 seconds after “The End” on Abbey Road.
Small delights are generally free, usually lighthearted, and almost always unexpected. In fact, they seem to show up when things look a bit bleak and gray (on a crowded airplane, following a dreary and wet thunderstorm, after the last song of a great Beatles album, etc.).
Small delights are hard to create but easy to identify. Most importantly they are an incredibly cheap way to build customer satisfaction and encourage repeat usage.
Have you had your small delight today? Has your customer?
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