Why All Customers Should Get Unexpected VIP Treatment

Looking for a way to make your customers incredibly brand loyal? Treat them like a VIP. That is what every customer relationship development textbook will tell you. It is a great strategy, but after a certain period of time it becomes an expectation. If you really want to keep your customers, it needs to remain unexpected!

Tony Awards Red Carpet

Experiences are becoming the most important component of any transaction. The good or service that you have purchased is now only an element of the customer journey. Whether it satisfies their needs is definitely important for repurchase intent, but it is by no means the be all and end all anymore. What will make or break the customer journey is the experience of purchasing a product and I’m going to venture a little outside the entertainment marketing field for this one.

Windsor Smith have a clever strategy in place at one of their shopping centre outlets. This last weekend was a two-day super sale in the lead up to Christmas (to make up for Australia’s lack of Black Friday sales) and Windsor Smith decided to set itself apart from the competition. Where every other shop in this shopping centre was trying to get as many customers through as possible, Windsor Smith hired a security guard and security bollards for the front of the store. He wasn’t there to search bags or keep food and drinks out of the store. He was there to give an image of exclusivity.

Windsor Smith managed to transfer their storefront from one of many competing shoe stores into the outside of an exclusive club.

There are two benefits to this service. Firstly, it controls the number of people who enter the store at one time ensuring that its current patrons don’t need to put up with overcrowding when trying on shoes. But did he really keep strict controls on the crowd? Not really. The benefit of his service was image-based.

It made Windsor Smith look popular and it made the customer feel part of an exclusive club when they were waved through by the security guard on the door. Essentially creating a VIP experience for any regular patron who wanted a pair of shoes. A much more exciting and memorable experience than simply walking into the store.

These little unexpected VIP treatments are much more powerful than regular exclusive opportunities because they are unexpected. You are just going about your everyday business and all of a sudden you are deemed worthy to be a VIP.

It happened for me on a United Airlines flight across America. Every time you would board a plane, United Airlines staff would make an enormous deal about placing a sizeable red mat at entrance to the gangway to be used by the exclusive members of their VIP and Business Class programs. Getting to walk on a small red mat is not really that special, however the ability to use it had been built up by this perception of exclusivity as you watched VIPs traverse their version of a red carpet.

However, a number of times through my various trips with United Airlines the staff wouldn’t lift up the mat and regular, every day and ordinary people got their moment on the red carpet. Was it by design? I don’t know, you will need to ask United Airlines. But getting to traverse their red carpet immediately made any flyer feel like they had beaten the system and received their own little VIP experience.

Maybe it is leaving the red carpet down for each performance? Maybe it is unexpectedly offering free ice-creams at the interval of random performances? Maybe a photographer is on hand for some glamour shots? Or maybe it is something different and unexpected at each show so every customer gets their own unexpected treatment? These small VIP experiences for regular customers dramatically enhance their experience and it is these unexpected experiences which will make them look back fondly on your show!

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