Imagine this: You’re stuck at LaGuardia Airport due to a flight delay—for a whopping six hours. Naturally, it’s a pretty “meh” experience, until all of the sudden a talented group of singers bursts into song.
Turns out it wasn’t just any group of singers, but the Broadway casts of The Lion King and Aladdin jumping into a friendly sing-off to pass the time. Thankfully, dozens of people in the audience captured this magical and unexpected moment and shared it for the rest of us to enjoy.
While amazing, this wasn’t the first time the cast of The Lion King has surprised people with an impromptu performance. Last year, members of the cast burst into song on a NYC subway car as well as a Virgin Airlines flight to Brisbane Australia, the likes of which generated over 23 million views on YouTube.
Although the majority of us aren’t going to burst into song and dance around the office and capture the moment to share on social media (but wouldn’t it be awesome if someone did?), this example from The Lion King and Aladdin is a great reminder that the best “surprise-and-delights” focus on delivering a remarkable customer experience.
Here are a few tips on how companies and brands can approach developing surprise and delight experiences that their customers will love.
Play to Your Strengths
The Lion King and Aladdin have incredibly talented, charismatic performers. It’s a good reminder to look more closely at your company and what or who your “most valuable players” are. These do not necessarily need to be people—they’re the special individuals, company values, events, or services that differentiate your company.
Consider how some of these valuable assets can help create a great experience, whether it’s a well-timed response to a question on Twitter, sending a surprise package in the mail to a passionate advocate, offering up tickets or access to a conference or event, or even bringing in a subject matter expert to coach or host a webinar for top clients or prospects. Both B2B and B2C companies alike have unique strengths they can leverage.
Ask Yourself: How Can We Add Value in a Moment of Need?
The beauty of the surprise sing-off is that The Lion King and Aladdin casts added value in a moment of need when people were bored and frustrated due to weather delays. In order to create a remarkable customer experience, you also need to understand what your key opportunities and moments are from your customer’s point of view. From there, you can develop a strategy and process framework that allows your company to be more nimble during moments of need.
A great example of this is KLM’s #HappyToHelp Campaign, where the company decided to take a week and help all air travelers, whether they were flying KLM or not. To do this, KLM monitored traveler’s tweets and bio information in real-time to understand their pain points, where they were traveling, and what they enjoyed. The company then sent representatives to surprise them with a gift or helpful service. The end result? A wonderful surprise—and a much more memorable travel experience.
Go from Campaigns to an Ongoing Strategy
The challenge and opportunity with surprise and delight experiences is how they scale and become integral to your overall strategy. Many companies will, up front, test and learn based on insights and consumer pain points to understand what resonates and ultimately adds value. From there, they will build a process and framework for scaling these experiences on an ongoing basis.
Examples of companies that do this well are Coca-Cola, which is committed to delivering happiness via content and activations that fans all over the world can experience. Zappos also does an incredible job delivering remarkable experiences via customer service—so much so that it’s become a core strategy and competitive differentiator.
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