The Hierarchy of Wonders

The Hierarchy of Wonders

If you’ve been reading the Tuesday tidbits for any length of time, then you’ve no doubt heard me talk about The Hierarchy of Horrors before. If you need a refresher, https://noahfleming.com/how-the-hierarchy-of-horrors-can-improve-your-business/you can check out this video here, or read this post here, or read about it any of my books here.

In a nutshell, The Hierarchy of Horrors is a process for identifying the things that cause the most grief for your customers, and systematically working to eliminate the horrors. The Hierarchy of Horrors is great, but Halloween is over, so today I want to introduce The Hierarchy of Wonders process.

The Hierarchy of Wonders is the opposite of the Hierarchy of Horrors. It’s my process for identifying what leaves customers and clients with the most satisfying feeling of delight, or what leaves the best and most positive impressions, or the thing that makes customers go from a transaction saying, “Wow, that was amazing!”

I’m sure you can think of examples from your life. I remember the first time that I was blown away by Amazon – I’d ordered a product on a Sunday morning with an expected wait of five days before delivery. That same day, I got an email telling me that the order had been shipped, and I had it in my hands two days later. They had under-promised and over-delivered, and though it was a simple thing, I was thrilled. It was exactly the opposite type of expectations gap that often causes so much harm in companies, and it immediately raised my estimation of the company.

The process for identifying the wonders is a little less obvious than the horrors since it’s always easier to focus on the negative and often harder to read or gather the positive praise about your business, but you can start rather simply. The easiest first step is to ask, “Why do our customers bother doing business with us? Why haven’t they defected to our customers?” If you’re honest with yourself in this question, you’re going to find the areas that you excel in.

Note (and this is important!): These areas of wonder are never going to be “World class service!” or “Quality” or any other hippy-dippy term… when you’re honest about why your customers stay, it will be about things that you can directly point to.

When you get great feedback like, “Well, Jim called me three days after installation to make sure that my team wasn’t having any issues. It was a complex piece of equipment, and no other supplier had ever asked to see if we needed any help in the rollout. That’s the kind of service I’ve come to love from your company!”, that’s not a generic category of “quality.” That’s a direct and repeatable action you can put into place with either all or a segment of your customer base to ensure that they are always delighted with you.

Sometimes, what you’ll discover is that what’s incredibly important to some of your customers doesn’t matter to others. Years ago, I was working with a very successful restaurant that had a split of 67% local customers, and 33% tourists. Their local customers wanted novelty, but not at the cost of losing their “old favorites.” What we did was introduce a paid “Inner-Circle Membership” program, that allowed members to get exclusive new menu items every month, and which also allowed the restaurant to “retire” certain items to only be available in the special “members only” menu.

For the locals, this was hugely important, and many of them bought the membership. Most of the tourists didn’t care and had a great experience without the membership, or they wanted something they couldn’t have so bad, that they bought a membership. The hierarchy of wonders created a revenue generating opportunity here, and let everybody come away feeling better.

Amazon has done something similar to their Prime membership over the past few years, putting on offer priority tiered service so that those who appreciate it can get it for a small extra fee.

With just a little thought, you can do it in your business as well.

Your Challenge For This Week: Identify your wonders.

Sit with your customer and client-facing people and ask them to identify and share specific things that have generated the most positive impact on your clients.

Pick ONE of the wonders and TEST. For example: If you know you respond to all customer contacts within 24 hours, but for some clients, you answer in under 90 minutes, and you know they appreciate that level of service, offer it to other clients who might fit the right profile. See how that impacts your relationship and partnership with those clients. You could easily set up a private hotline for your best and most valuable clients.

With the Hierarchy of Wonders, you often end up asking yourself, “Why did we wait so long to do this?”

Go!