My friend and colleague Frank Capek has just summarized his 25 years of learnings from his work on Customer Experience Design.  I think so much of Frank’s work, and believe this is so important, I thought I’d point you all to the post.

As a related aside, I’d like to share a couple of “wow” experiences I’ve had in the last week.  The first was delivered by Moen, the faucet company.  My kitchen faucet was getting a little hard to turn.  I went to the Moen web site and got my first small “wow.”  It is beautifully laid out.  I was quickly able to get a description of the problem, the recommended solution, and a real bonus – a nicely animated lesson in how to replace the cartridge in the faucet.  The site helped me find and order the right cartridge.  All well and good.  The replacement part arrived a few days later, and I was able to replace the part in about 20 minutes – a painless process thanks to the animation and clear directions that came with the part.

While I was replacing the cartridge I noticed that the lever was loose (the faucet is a single lever type, with an integrated spray attachment).  Anyway, replacing the part solved the “stickiness” in the handle, and all was well.  However, a couple of days later, I noticed that the lever was again loose.  I removed the Allen screw, applied a good dollop (an engineering term!) of Loctite thread compound.  A couple of days later, it was loose again.  I went back to the web site, but could not see any particular reference to the loose screw phenomenon, so I wrote a support request (again, easily done) describing the problem.  The next day, I got an email telling me that the parts I needed were being shipped to me post haste.

A couple of days later, a replacement Allen screw, plus several other parts associated with securing the lever, turned up in the mail – again with clear instructions.  No cost – no hassle.  Just exceptional customer service.  I replace the screw and related parts, and that solved the problem.  I was absolutely delighted about every aspect of my interaction with Moen.  In Frank’s words, I was ‘wowed!’

In the same week, I had read a review by the wonderful Walter Mossberg on Photo Books.  These are a fun way to assemble photos into a hard back or soft bound book.  He pointed out that Apple’s iPhoto had a gizmo built in, and that you could easily assemble a book (or calendar) and send it to Apple for processing and printing.  I’m already an enthusiastic iPhoto user, but had never tried the photo book feature.  So I did – quickly assembling a surprise book for my wife.  The process was easy and fun.  I ordered the book from Apple and was delighted when the finished product arrived through the mail about 10 days later.  Unfortunately, within minutes the pages separated from the hard back binding.  Bummer!

I got onto Apple’s web site, quickly found the place to register the problem – again, a beautifully designed site that made the whole process easy.  I got an immediate acknowledgment (nothing new there!) but a day later received a personal email from a support representative (named!) expressing deep regret that this had happened, and letting me know that a replacement would be shipped immediately.  The “wow” came 2 days later – while the original order was shipped by mail (my request, being a cheapskate) the replacement came by FedEx.  Once again, Apple proved it really is a class act.  of course, I’ve gone on to assemble and order several other items!

It’s experiences such as those delivered by Moen and Apple that go well above what we’ve come to expect – that differentiate them in the market place and keep us customers going back time and time again.  And, to one of Frank’s points, these were not “accidents.”  I know from years of experience, that Apple engineers the “wow” into virtually everything it does.  Similarly, as I’ve told friends about my Moen experience, they tell me of similar experiences they’ve had with the company – consistently exceptional customer experiences.

As an IT organization, how have you “designed” an exceptional customer experience?  How could you create more “wows” for your business partners and customers?  Check in on Frank’s blog to get some pointers on what it takes and how to achieve it.  It will be well worth your time!