Recently, my wife and I visited Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. My wife has wanted to go there for a few years and she especially wanted to see the Harry Potter theme parks because she is an avid fan of the movies and books. So, we took off for a long weekend to ride some coasters and see the sites. But nothing could prepare me for what was about to happen and the lessons I learned in spending a few days in the "Wizarding World." I never expected to get a MBA level course in sales and service, but that's the thing about life - there are always surprises in the most unique of places, as long as you are open and looking for them.
Below are 6 great business lessons on sales and service I took in from Harry and his crew of Misfits down in Florida.
Be Obsessed With Attention to Detail
From the moment my wife and I walked into the the park, I knew I was in trouble, or at least my wallet was. Even as an avid fan of the movies, she could tell right away how much attention to detail was put into every area of the park, from all of the shops, rides, lifelike castles, right down to the buttons on the clothes of the employees. She was in awe. She and I did not expect to literally walk into exactly what was in the movie. So, of course, now we had to explore everything and look at every nook and cranny to see how "amazing of a job they did." Even the employees used the exact wording, phrases and verbiage from the book and movies. And of course, my wife had to get souvenirs all around.
The lesson from this is that if you are obsessed with attention to detail and leave no stone un-turned, your customers will recognize and reward you for it. You will leave them in awe and inspire them, and they will love your product even more. It is the littlest things that can make the biggest difference and that is where great businesses separate themselves.
Create an Experience That No One Else Can Provide
It takes attention to detail to create a great experience, but it also takes ingenuity, the ability think differently, and to look at your customer and the world differently. To truly differentiate a yourself or your business, you have to be uniquely different and memorable. This means that every aspect of the experience a customer has with you should amaze them. From the moment they start with you, to long after they are using your product or have left your facility, you should strive to occupy space in their mind and memories. We saw this from beginning to end at the park. Just waiting in line to get on rides was an experience in itself. And even more impressive was how they built an exact replica of the train stations in the movie, including Kings Cross in London and have a real , interactive "Hogwartz Express" take you back and forth from the two parks.
This isn't just a train ride, it is an experience like riding on the train in the movie. You look out the window to see the real countryside and people flying by on brooms headed to the castle, etc. (great job with the way they made it so real using flat screens for the windows).
Again, it was an experience from beginning to end. You believe you are in and part of the movies. They strive to make you feel like you are really there as well. Even, the employees act like you and them are in the world of Harry.
This should be the same for a customer working with you or your business. You should strive to create an experience from beginning to end like no other that is memorable and leaves your customer talking about it long after they have bought from you. Ask yourself, "What can I do or change today to make my customer experience more memorable?" Now go do it.
There is No Substitute for a Well Trained and Knowledgeable Staff
When people believe you and your teams know what you are doing, they respect you more for it. I earned this respect when halfway through our trip, my wife looked at me and said, "I know you'll think I'm crazy, but I want to get a wizard wand." I looked at her like "Um, OK," while secretly saying to myself, "Yes, I want to see how this pans out." So, we made our way over to the wand store which was another experience in itself. Picking a wand was interesting, not only did the "Wand Associate" help us, but she knew everything you could possibly think of about a wand. From the type of wood it has, to its core, and what made it special and unique, etc. As we got deep into our wand buying experience (these things are $50-100 for literally what is a hard resin plastic stick), I found myself having a discussion with the associate about "wand lore" and how wands pick the wizard, etc. And half way through it, I was catching myself going, "Am I seriously having a conversation on Wand Lore???"
But yes I was, because the Wand Associate knew their products so well and demonstrated their passion for their craft that I could not help myself. There is no substitute for a well trained and passionate team to service your customers. You will never be perfect, but if people believe that your team truly cares and is passionate about delivering a great product and service, you can't lose.
Make Your Customer Part of the Experience
So besides the fact that my wife wanted one as a souvenir, why were we buying a wand in the first place? Because the owners of Potterland know another thing about giving a great experience - Give your customer a chance to be a part of it and make it their own.
Once you have a wand, there are all these unique and hidden places to "do magic" throughout the park. You simply walk up and with a flick of your wand, you can make something happen. You are now a real wizard just like Harry. It was funny to see my wife turn into a kid, get out the map that came with her wand, and run all over the place casting spells. She was hooked.
It's the same for you in your business. You can make your experience even better looking for unique and fun ways to further engage your customers and bring them into it. This may be as simple as having them help craft a rollout strategy for the service they are buying from you or allowing them to give input into a design of your product. Whatever you do, find ways to have the customer help craft their experience with you. Remember, people support what they help to create!
By now, you can probably tell that our expectations were well met and exceeded. And just when we thought we had seen it all or experienced it all, my wife would find something new or an associate would surprise us with some cool fact. We definitely got more than we expected going in and that is all we could ask for.
Exceeding expectations is different for every business, but you have to look for every way you can do so. Put yourself in your customer's shoes. What are they expecting from you and your product or service? How can you amaze them and give them so much more value that you shatter their expectations? Answer that question and you'll create some of the most loyal, raving fans possible for your business.
Close Without Having to Close
When you put it all together - High attention to detail, great customer experience, an incredibly well trained and knowledgeable staff, making the customer part of the experience, and exceeding expectations; you do not have to "close" people to buy your product or service. No one had to ask my wife or I to buy; we willingly and joyfully did. From beginning to end, we sold ourselves and had a lot of fun doing it.
I certainly took away a great, unexpected experience with my wife. On our flight home, we discussed how we could not wait til our daughter got old enough and could understand the Harry Potter series, so we could take her and have her experience becoming a wizard.
And that's all you can ask for as a great business. To not only provide a great experience for your customers, but to have them like it so much they tell others and pass it on to future generations.