Fun is strategic to your business – internally and externally. It is not a luxury. It is a competitive necessity. Fun powers internal innovation and creativity, and it’s in the DNA of every customer-focused company. Fun is surprising and delighting your customers and employees. It is a people-centered marketing strategy, and it is also the fuel that gives you the best creative energy. So why wouldn’t you want to have more fun in your business?
Fun doesn’t mean funny, per se. By all means, if you can be funny, do it. The good news, though, is that the bar doesn’t have to be that high. Just putting a smile on your customer’s face and making their situation a delight makes a big difference. A belly laugh is fantastic, but creating a delightful experience just by having fun is enough to win your internal and external customer over. It’s also the best way to make sure your creative energy is at its peak.
Remember all the fun experiences you have had as a customer and as an employee? Good. Now, think of all the expectations your customers have and then find a way to surprise them. Go through your entire process of engagement and all the ways you touch your customer – even when you’re not “selling.” What is it you could do to surprise your customer and make them smile? What would be fun and unexpected because you went the extra mile? When I was very pregnant and traveling on business, one hotel in Colorado Springs, The Cheyenne Inn and Resort, sent me a free basket with healthy goodies (and a few decadent ones) and a Congratulations note to my room. Did it make an impression? Well, I’m still talking about it, so yes.
What’s fun for one customer may not be for the next, so invest a little time especially with your profitable customers and find out how you can make their lives easier. For one busy client, I brought lunch to a meeting so she wouldn’t have to worry about that while she met with me. And that made the difference in customer service for her. What if you had a voicemail system that entertained your customers while they were on hold, or imagine how your customer would react if you sent birthday cookie bouquets? How about a fun welcome pack to new clients? The little things often make a big difference. Recently Apple reached out to a customer who had been told she couldn’t pay for an iPad with cash. Word reached an Apple VP, and the Menlo Park Apple fan received not only an apology, but an extra iPad (she already bought one). More importantly, they reversed their no-cash policy. She wasn’t expecting the gift; but the visit to tell her “we hear you” goes a long way to ensuring she stays an Apple fan.
Map out all the ways you touch your customer and ask yourself what can be improved. Talk with customers often. Don’t assume what you value is what your customers will, or that the surprises have to be high-cost. High-cost and high-value are not the same thing. My client, for example, had originally said she had to cut our meeting short because she needed time to get lunch. I brought lunch to her, saved her time, money and hassle. As a result, I doubled the time I got to meet with her and that sealed the deal.
The same is true for all your employees and all your internal customers – figure out how to add more fun and more creativity to their lives and watch engagement grow. Most companies try to increase engagement first in hopes that productivity and engagement will follow. However, a faster route to increased engagement is to give employees more creative, fun and challenging work first, and then watch engagement rise. Allow more creative freedom in how they do their jobs, and recognize effort, not just results.
Fun is also for your benefit. It’s a barometer for passion and energy. Don’t you want to be at your best when driving your business? If you aren’t having fun in your business, you won’t be as creative. We’ve all been there – at burnout, bored, and out of ideas. That’s your creative self telling you to do something different and to create bold change. Sometimes the best ideas aren’t expensive or grandiose; they just require us to think creatively. And injecting fun is a great way to jumpstart that process.