How do you create a memorable customer experience? Why are customer experiences important?
In Superfans, Patt Flynn argues that you can instill positive emotions in your customers by creating memorable experiences. When your fans have fond memories of engaging with a brand, their time and energy invested in the brand feels more meaningful.
Keep reading to learn how to create a memorable customer experience.
Creating Memorable Experiences for Customers
When you learn how to create a memorable customer experience, this makes a strong incentive to continue investing in your brand and accumulating experiences that propel them up the levels of fandom. Flynn recommends three methods for creating meaningful and memorable experiences: breaking up the routine, giving fans a challenge, and offering exclusive perks.
(Shortform note: Consumer behavior experts explain just what makes an experience memorable. People remember experiences not because they were satisfying or pleasant, but because they stand out as emotional peaks against ordinary emotional experiences. Emotional peaks are moments of extreme emotion beyond what people can experience on an average day. They can be positive or negative, but to create a positive experience you want to focus on moments of extreme excitement or delight. Some researchers call this “the wow effect.”)
Experience Creator #1: Break Up the Routine
Flynn argues you must add variety to your fans’ experience of the brand. Even the most effective and exciting strategies to engage fans can become boring when repeated endlessly without variation. Shaking up the routine will look different depending on your engagement strategies, but in general, Flynn encourages you to be spontaneous and try new things. Try hosting a fan art contest, incorporating humor into your weekly newsletter, letting customers vote on a new product, or testing out a new format for your content. Even if your experiments don’t work, they will, at minimum, prevent your best ideas from becoming boring through endless repetition.
(Shortform note: Psychological research can shed some light on why letting fans get bored can be destructive for your brand. Boredom is a powerful motivator: When someone experiences boredom, it’s like a subconscious alarm going off that tells them to start doing something else with their time. Therefore boredom has an enormous power to motivate customers away from your brand. Keeping things stimulating as Flynn suggests can lower this risk.)
Experience Creator #2: Give Fans a Challenge
Flynn argues that you can give your fans a memorable experience by offering them a difficult challenge to overcome. People often find challenges meaningful and rewarding because they have to push themselves, activating reserves of motivation and drive they might not generally use. People usually remember rewarding experiences because of the emotional high that accompanies a feeling of “success.” As an example, a bookstore could create a book club where customers had to read a new book every week, or a gym could create a rigorous training challenge.
(Shortform note: Motivational experts can help us understand why it’s important to make your challenges difficult. They highlight that people find challenging projects more rewarding for two reasons: 1) They develop their skills and abilities, and 2) achieving something difficult can become a source of pride and self-esteem. However, writing in Atomic Habits, James Clear cautions against making something so difficult that it simply frustrates your fans. He writes that our brains seek an optimal level of challenge: too easy and we’re bored, but too hard and people will often give up. As you develop your company’s challenge or tweak it year after year, consider soliciting feedback on how difficult or easy it was, and whether your fans need a change of pace.)
Challenges also provide an opportunity for fans to bond more deeply with the fan community. When someone has to struggle jointly with other people, their shared experience of struggle becomes something important they have in common.
(Shortform note: In The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath concur with Flynn’s idea that shared struggle creates important bonding experiences. However, they add one important guideline in crafting challenges. People don’t just bond with each other when they’re doing something hard, but also when they’re working together to contribute to an important purpose. This is one of the reasons why so many people participate in charity marathons. In planning a challenge, also consider your company’s mission and what purpose your fans can contribute to.)
Experience Creator #3: Offer Exclusive Perks
Flynn recommends that you can also give people memorable experiences by offering exclusive perks to your most invested fans. This creates positive and memorable experiences by making fans feel special and important. For example, many conventions and live events offer “VIP access,” which offers guests access to exclusive spaces or chances to meet personally with celebrities.
People not only look back on these exclusive experiences fondly, but they also like to talk about them with others because it elevates their status. This also shows other fans what they could experience, creating a draw towards these exclusive perks, and with it a draw to deepen their fandom and invest in the brand.
(Shortform note: Many psychologists argue that status is a universal human drive. They assert that while not everyone desires the same source of status (money, popularity, attractiveness, authority, etc.), everyone desires status in some form. This is because status is tightly linked to feeling valued by others. People tend to value those with status. So a lack of status can be extremely painful because it makes people feel like they have no worth to others. This explains how offering exclusive perks can be a draw: By treating someone as if they have a high status, you make them feel socially valued as a person.)