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Avtex is happy to welcome Dan Gingiss as a guest author. Dan is a customer experience keynote speaker, consultant, author and podcaster. During his 20-year career, Dan has gained invaluable perspective on what it takes to delight customers.

When I first started out in business, there was no such thing as customer experience. But an early interaction with a customer at my first job demonstrated the power of creating a relationship with each individual customer.

I was working in the marketing and product management area of the Danbury Mint, a high-end collectibles company based out of Norwalk, Connecticut. For some reason, a customer's phone call came to my desk instead of to the Customer Service department. I answered the phone to find an upset woman who told me that Christmas was going to be ruined because she had not yet received her gift for her granddaughter. I didn't know exactly what to do, because I didn't have access to her account information, so I did the thing that came naturally: I grabbed a pen and paper and asked her for her name, address, and the name of the item.

I went to the warehouse and pulled down the item, brought it over to the packaging area and carefully packed it up, and personally walked it to the FedEx station to make sure that the package would be delivered on December 24th. No way was Christmas going to be ruined by my account!

I don't know if I broke any company rules that day, but I never got into trouble. And that customer remained a happy customer for many years to come. I’ve taken that experience and remembered it throughout my career as I sit in meetings, always trying to be the person who is wearing the “Customer” hat.

Far too often in the business world, we get stuck debating opinions that aren't really relevant to our customers. For example, one time I was asked for my opinion on which of four different marketing pieces I liked the best. An entire conference room of people looked expectedly toward me, awaiting my decision. I think I disappointed them when I told them that my opinion didn't matter. What mattered was what the customer thought. What mattered was which marketing piece would cause the most customers to take action. And that had nothing to do with my opinion of which creative I liked best.

In more than 20 years in Corporate America, I've learned that a remarkable customer experience can be your best marketing. That's an ironic conclusion given that most of my career has been as a marketer; I have led teams of marketers overseeing almost every marketing channel there is, from direct mail to social media and everything in between. But no Facebook ad, billboard, or email campaign has quite the same effect on a customer or prospect as a one-to-one human connection.

Creating a remarkable experience doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Often, the best improvements to the overall experience come from fixing seemingly small customer irritants. For example, a button that doesn't function correctly on the website, or an event that consistently makes the mobile app crash. These are extremely frustrating moments to customers, and too many of these moments will cause customers to flee to the competition in search of an easier experience. So, I always urge companies to begin by removing the barriers that your systems have put into place that make doing business with you more difficult than it should be. Look for opportunities to reduce the number of clicks or taps to get to one's destination. If takes two clicks, find a way for it to only take one click -- or even zero clicks.

Once you are done removing customer irritants, it's time to look for opportunities to add positive experiences where none existed previously. It could just be something that's a little bit better than it is today. Look for opportunities to make doing business with you easier and faster. For example, during Prime Day I ordered a new set of pots and pans from Amazon. I was pleased with the deal, but when they arrived, one of the glass lids was shattered. I called Amazon, and they told me they would issue a complete refund that they didn't need the pots and pans back. I suppose I can live without one lid! Would your policies and procedures have left a customer as happy as I was in a similar situation?

When you create happy customers, they can't wait to tell their friends about how amazing the experience was. And when your customers are doing your marketing for you, it is far more credible than any marketing campaign that comes from the brand.

More About Dan

Dan's 20-year career has consistently focused on delighting customers, spanning multiple disciplines including customer experience, marketing, social media and customer service. He has held leadership positions at three Fortune 300 companies – McDonald’s, Discover and Humana.

Today he is an international keynote speaker and experience consultant who believes that a remarkable customer experience can be your best marketing.

Dan is the author of the book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, a host of the Experience This! Show podcast and a regular contributor to Forbes.

Dan earned a B.A. in psychology and communications from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in marketing from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Learn more about Dan.

Dan Gingiss, Contributing Author