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Image courtesy of MCAD Library

Do you know what comprises the greatest customer experience on earth? I do. I’ve seen it twice!

What? What are you talking about, Annette? Have you been keeping secrets from us?

Au contraire, mon frere/cher.

Last summer, I took my kids to see a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show. They had such a great time and assured me they wanted to go again the next time the circus was in town. They even asked me last summer if they could go again, but the circus had already left.

As soon as I saw that Ringling Bros. was coming to town this summer, I bought tickets for the three of us. Ironically, it was exactly a year to the date that we went last year.

Of course, after last year’s show, I was inspired to write a blog post about The Greatest Customer Experience on Earth. Sitting at the show this past weekend, I knew I’d need to write a follow-up post.

Why? As always, there were lessons to be shared.

I’ve said before that great experiences should hold the following qualities for the customer:

  • Personal
  • Memorable
  • Remarkable
  • Emotional 
  • Consistent

Without a doubt, the circus covered all of these.

Touching briefly on consistency, I think it is an “umbrella quality.” What do I mean by that? Those other four qualities (and any other qualities you may use to describe your greatest experiences) need to describe your every experience with a brand. Always. Every time. Consistently.

I think Ringling Bros. does consistency well; it was like deja vu all over again! I believe this was a delighter for my kids. Although they knew what to expect (always a good thing for kids) from the show in general – right down to PETA protesting outside the arena again – they were still surprised and delighted by the actual performances; they knew it would be great.

Some of the other qualities of this great experience?

  • Well-orchestrated
  • Streamlined and fluid
  • Seamless
  • Attention to details

In addition, the following people skills facilitated how well-orchestrated and seamless the show and the experience were.

Adaptable/Flexible: If something didn’t go as planned, e.g., when a tumbler didn’t land as expected, they improvised and made it appear as if it was meant to be the way it was executed it. Never missed a beat.
Communication: Announcements before and during the show helped to set expectations; they were proactive and framed as “here’s what’s about to happen and why.” There were also announcements made for safety reasons.
Teamwork:  The different types of performers all worked together to ensure not only each other’s safety but also the overall quality of the experience for their guests.
Attitude: Right in line with teamwork, performers didn’t take a “not my job” attitude; you could just tell that if one saw something out of line or if someone needed help, any and all chipped in.

Speaking of people and people skills, let’s not forget those unsung heroes of the circus, the pooper scoopers: dressed in black to also facilitate the seamless, well-orchestrated experience. As I noted in last year’s post, their roles are not glamorous, but they are mission critical. Not only did they scoop the poop but they also set the stage, modified sets, and were like puppet masters for some of the acts. The really cool part is that they were dressed in black so as to not distract from the show. With a black floor and a darkened arena backdrop, these men and women were barely visible.

And finally, any brand well-versed in the language of customer experience knows that listening to customers is essential. Like last year, we were given a card (the same card) with contact information (phone number, address, email address) to provide feedback about the show overall.

What other qualities would you use to describe great experiences?

The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail. -Charles R. Swindoll