Surprise, Surprise! – The Ability To SURPRISE Your Consumer!

The Story…

Many have heard me say, that it only takes three principles to build a consumer experience model. Those three principles are simple: Know Me, Surprise Me, and Make It Easy! That is where the hard part comes in, keeping it simple!

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” ~ Steve Jobs

The story goes something like this: There once was a family visiting Walt Disney World. It was a beautiful fall morning, and the family had just finished breakfast at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They were waiting to use their next fast pass, so they decided to do some window shopping. At one of the confectionary shops, they came across an amazing display of caramel apples that looked like different animals. A Disney cast member greeted the family with a simple, hello! As the family was standing there admiring the creative work, the daughter looked up to her father and asked if she could have one (now remember, they had just finished breakfast.) The father told his daughter, “Honey, not now! We just finished eating.” 

The family went to leave the store to make their way to the ride, when the father felt a slight tap on his shoulder. He turned around and it was that cast member. img_5927The cast member politely asked if they could present a small gift to his daughter. The father said, YES! What the father did not know is that cast member had been listening so well, that they heard the girl ask specifically for the elephant caramel apple. And, there it was, in a  lovely box ready to give to her. The little girl was so happy and asked her father if she could keep it. Well of course, the father had to say, Yes!

This story is about my family and my daughter. Now, some people might have been upset over the interaction, but to be frank, I was totally SURPRISED! That cast member knew we could afford to buy that apple, but they wanted to do something unforgettable and incredibly powerful for my daughter and me.

The Learning…

That experience happened months ago – and yet, it is still fresh in my mind. It was so simple for that cast member to provide an unforgettable experience. She lived out the principles of Know Me, Surprise Me, Make it Easy to a tee. She took the time to listen. 

Here is my learning: listen, listen, listen! The cast member got to KNOW my family and ME in a short period by listening to our conversation. She saw an opportunity to SURPRISE ME by getting to my daughter’s heart and in doing so, she created a magical experience for me as well. Finally, she MADE IT EASY with a single $5 apple. For the rest of that day, my daughter could talk of nothing else but the experience of receiving that little elephant.

“Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you!”

What We Can Do…

Listening is a simple concept, but again, sometimes it is also the most complicated thing to do. I will LISTEN to those around me. Whether it is my wife, my children, a co-worker, or our consumer.
We all have a listen-learningstory, and it deserves to be heard. As a matter of fact, consumers expect and demand it today. Mason Thelen in his article From ‘Mad Men’ to ‘Math Men’: Listen To Your Customers Not Your Gut discusses three main concepts around personalization, silos, and technology. The customer is telling us what they want; we just have to LISTEN!

Take 30 minutes this week. Hit the streets! Listen to those around you. Get to know your consumer or customer. They will tell you what they want and need. It is our job to take it to the next level.

Remember this: KNOW ME, SURPRISE ME, and MAKE IT EASY!


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