I just returned from a wonderful trip to Whistler, BC where I spoke to almost 300 entrepreneurs and business owners.

The night before I left, I checked into the airport hotel to find a plate of cookies, two chocolates, and a hand-written note.

The note, written by Fernando, welcomed me to the hotel and explained how I could reach him directly should I need anything.
Most businesses do nothing to welcome new clients and customers – let alone a handwritten note!

It’s such a small example, but one where impact can be massive. Last week I had a breakfast with some of the top CMOs and CEOs in Michigan. We discussed this very topic and saw firsthand how seriously the customer experience–from start to finish–was being taken in some of these larger organizations.

Here’s why this is important:

Fascinating new scientific research has shown that it’s the way an experience starts and the way it ends that we’re most likely to remember.

Even a great seven-day trip can be ruined by a bad experience when you’re checking out of the hotel.

How you welcome a new customer can have an even greater impact on their feelings about your company, if they’ll provide referrals, and their willingness to engage in repeat business with you – even beyond the core product or service that you actually provide!

Think about that for a moment.

The products and services that you provide are a necessary but insufficient condition for the ongoing success of your company in our new economy.

Satisfaction guaranteed is an obsolete statement.

Almost any business can provide goods or services merely as promised, that are “satisfactory.”

Millions of businesses every single day can muster up the ability to satisfy.

For sixty years, that was enough…and it just might be enough for the next six months, but I wouldn’t put money on it.