It happened in a large field after it started to rain. Three hundred people were in make-shift tents or thin ponchos on rural property owned by David Hill. It was a chilly night in late March and people huddled to keep warm. They were on a historic journey. All day they had been harassed and threatened by as the brave crowd walked along a 54-mile stretch of Highway 80 from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The year was 1965.
Some spoke of abandoning the march to the Alabama capitol steps to protest the reluctance of the state government to intervene when African-Americans were kept from voting. Only 2% of eligible blacks were registered to vote, despite a law granting them that right. Governor George Wallace was at the center of that resistance. Ultimately, 25,000 people would join this group of 300 when they finally reached the capitol steps.
But, this was the first night on their journey. A baby cried. Someone yelled an obscenity. Then, a single voice slowly began singing a song they all knew: “We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome some day. Deep in my heart, I do declare. That we shall overcome someday.”
The crowd gradually joined in the singing. By the third verse all 300 cold, tired and anxious marchers had joined in, singing the song with fervor and passion. No one dropped out of the march after that first night.
Customers have moments of anxiety. Walk in the Bass Pro Shop at the giant pyramid in Memphis and you are overwhelmed by its sheer size. The store stands 321 feet high, encompasses over 200,000 square feet of shopping, and features a 190-room hotel, bowling alley, restaurants, shooting gallery and much more.
But, right in the middle of the store, shoppers “overcome” with the angst of searching find a peaceful 600,000-gallon aquarium and an indoor swamp with peaceful water fowl enjoying their view of customers. It is as comforting as a familiar song on a cold night in a strange field after a long march.
What can you do to create a place and experience of solace for your weary customers? How can you provide a customer service anchor as enchanting as Main Street at the entrance of Disney World or the soft seat play area in the middle of most large malls?
Great customer service in not just about making the customers’ experiences physically easy; it is about making them emotionally comforting. Look for an enchanting connector that becomes a customer bonding agent as compelling as the first word in the song sung by the civil rights demonstrators in a muddy field who marched into the history books.
Looking for more about creating an emotional connection with customers? Click to find the answer to this question: Are we mechanizing customer delight?