What do Marshmallow Treats Have to do with Customer Experience?

Cooking up a Great Customer Experience

I just spent a few minutes of quality time with my daughter making a family favorite: sticky, gooey, marshmallow treats.

No secret recipe here. Just three simple ingredients: marshmallows, butter (the real thing) and crispy rice cereal. Two minutes in the microwave, a couple of spins of the spatula, a little press in the pan, and there you go. Sweet magic.

It’s not nearly as hard as some people would have you think. At least that’s the message from the old commercial:

Thinking about this, and a comment on a recent article I wrote about customer delight which said in part, “Potentially huge investments in capital and infrastructure could be required,” I suddenly saw a connection between marshmallow treats and customer experience.

Great Experience Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

You see, some people would have you believe that treating customers right is hard. They say that big organizations need complex software, multifaceted programs and interdisciplinary teams to make it happen.

Do you?

Or can you simply start by creating a basic recipe for customer-focus? I recommend one part empathy, two parts customer-centric culture, a dash of foresight (to anticipate customer needs) and a splash of creativity.

  • That’s what Chick-fil-A franchisee Brad Williams used when he created the Cell Phone Coop idea to encourage families to engage face-to-face over meals.
  • It’s what SafeLite did when they started sending customers a Technician Profile email with a photo, so customers would know who to expect for their service call.
  • Southwest Airlines did it when they decided, way back in the 1970s, that it was time to add some fun and humor to air travel.

Now I’ll agree, taking ideas like these to massive scale takes planning, money and infrastructure. Institutionalizing anything requires that. The difference is that you don’t need all that structure and investment to get started.

You just have to decide to do it.

Decide today, and again tomorrow. Help your people decide, too. Show them that customer-focus is the way you do business. When people start to get that, they will gladly join you in the kitchen to cook up something great, whether that’s sticky, messy crispy rice treats or an elegant gourmet meal.

Maybe both.

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