I recently wrote about Delivering Happiness after I was inspired by an email I received from a happy customer. I just received another email that got me a thinking about happiness all over again and so I decided to just start an ongoing blog series so I can share some of these letters, pictures and stories with you from time to time.
I’m also calling this series ‘Lessons In Happiness’ for a reason. This is a blog after all, so instead of just cutting and pasting testimonials, I’d like to use them as a launching pad for sharing my thoughts on some of the lessons I take from them. I strongly believe that happiness is contagious and these posts will come from my perspective both as a business owner as well as on a personal level, so I think you’ll find something to take away regardless of your background. Without further adieu….
C.B. writes in with an email titled ‘My Experience’:
I just wanted to drop you a line to say that I recently picked up one of your double hammocks with the rope and carabiner as the discount code appeared on Woot. I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I love the spring/summer and beach culture and hanging out in a hammock. The double appealed to me because I am 6'3" and around 300 pounds depending on what I had for lunch, so it's difficult finding any hammock I would trust not to collapse when I get in it. Not like when I was 10 years younger and 100 pounds lighter hanging out in the tropics where just about any hammock would do.
I picked up the double obviously for its ability to accommodate my size and weight and I must say I am very impressed. I have not had the chance to hang it yet, but it seems extremely well made and very sturdy.
I must say however I was extremely surprised by how fast the product arrived. $5 flat shipping charge should not have gotten it to Virginia as fast as it arrived (Ordered Wednesday, arrived Friday). Plus the fact that someone actually took the time to hand write a note on my receipt was very pleasantly surprising.
In the age of the internet it's easy to search the entire world for products and services that suit our needs, but it isn't so easy to find companies that fulfill those needs with world class customer service. I definitely got that vibe from you guys on my first order and I would like you to know that I have your site bookmarked and will definitely be ordering from you again and recommending your site to anyone looking for some island style relaxation.
Extremely Happy Customer
[C.B. – thanks for writing in and thanks most of all for returning the happiness you experienced as a customer back to me as a business owner. ]
As I said, the subject of the email I received from C.B. was “My Experience”. No matter how rare it is for me to receive an email from an unhappy customer, the first thing I thought to myself when I opened it was definitely “Uh-oh”. Lucky for me that turned out to be a false alarm but it definitely got me thinking about what those words meant.
In the increasingly connected and social world that we live in, our experience is everything. If you have a bad experience at a restaurant, a hotel or with any business at all, you’ll not only avoid going again you’re also likely to tell your friends about your bad experience as well. You may even hop on Facebook or Twitter to tell your entire network of friends and acquaintances and suddenly that experience has been magnified to a much larger proportion. The same applies beyond the business world. If you have a bad personal experience with someone, you’re likely to think twice before spending time with or trusting that person again and you’re also likely share your opinion of that person with those close to you.
We now live in an age of an extremely Vocal Minority. It used to be that businesses just needed to please a majority of people to be successful. That majority of happy customers would dominate the word of mouth reputation and those few that had bad experiences wouldn’t have any influence or ability to spread their message (unless they were in the media or actually worked to get media attention). Now, thanks to social media, one single person can post their story, pictures or video of their bad experience and it can literally spread to millions of people within a matter of days.
The Experience you provide is everything.
You should always be focused on putting out a Good Experience. For your customers, for your friends, for your boss or your employees and even for those you may not even know yet. The concept of karma has taken on an interesting new meaning in modern society. You no longer have to wait until an unknown and (hopefully) far down the road judgment to have your actions be reflected back at you. The Golden Rule of how you treat others, either as a business or as an individual, is no longer a spiritual or mysterious ripple effect, karma has gone digital. And that means it’s traveling much faster, reaching more people and coming back to you more quickly than ever before. “It all comes back in the end” has become “It’ll be on Facebook and blogged about by morning”.
As I’ve said throughout this post, the lessons of the Vocal Minority and the now Digital Karma apply strongly to businesses but are just as important to you as an individual. It may not sound all that great to hear, but you are a brand. If you’re looking for a job, your resume and your references are no longer all someone has to go on to determine your character. Just as any (smart) business sells its brand using social media, you’ve got a brand image out there that sells who you are. Even if you consider yourself to be ‘off the grid’ and don’t have a social media presence, the people you come into contact with on a regular basis most surely do or they will at some point. If you Google yourself (saying that never stops being funny) and think you have a pretty blank slate, give it a year or two. Your Digital Karma is out there and it’s become much more likely that your actions will become public or that someone you may have treated poorly in the past will be digitally connected to someone whose good favor you need. You no longer need to be a celebrity to find that your actions become public - celebrity, fame and notoriety are all capable of being created instantly these days.
All that being said, there’s really no reason to fear these changes in our society. (There are obvious privacy concerns but I’m not really referring to those personal privacy issues here) The ones who need to worry right now are the businesses and people who think they can continue to deliver bad experiences to others without repercussion. And on the flip side, it’s now giving small businesses, non profits and anyone doing something of value the chance to have their good deeds magnified and rewarded in ways that were never previously possible.
One more time: The Experience you provide is everything.
If you take a look at C.B.’s letter again, you’ll notice something amazing if you didn’t catch it the first time: he hasn’t even tried the hammock yet!
It’s the perfect example of how crucial the experience itself is. In this case, it actually became even more important than the product itself and that is the biggest lesson I’ve taken away from C.B.’s letter. What people will remember you for is The Experience you give them. If you take shortcuts or get lazy in your relationships and interactions, people will remember you for it – impressions come not just from what you deliver but how you deliver it. Smile more, look people in the eyes, take the extra steps to write a nice note when you’re thankful….focus on delivering happiness to those around you and you’ll be a walking, talking Good Experience that people will want to share with others.
If you run a business, you should ask yourself: Have you put enough effort and focus into The Experience that your customers will be happy enough to write you a thank you email before they even have a chance to use the product or service???
Want to know what else makes me happy? Blog comments. Let me know what you think and let’s get some conversation going! (I also don’t get paid to write these awesome blog posts so if you want to buy a hammock that would be pretty cool too!)