Do you have a WOW Budget?

Setting aside a portion of your budget to go above and beyond for customers can really have them saying "WOW!" It can also go a long way toward customer loyalty and the success of your small business.

What if you could create a lasting impression on your customers without breaking the bank? I believe it’s the little things we do today for our customers that have the opportunity to make the biggest impact. Remember, it’s about creating the entire experience and not just selling your product or services today. So, do you have a WOW budget for your clients? What’s a WOW budget? My definition of the word WOW is: random and unexpected. It should make you say or think, “WOW!”

A WOW budget is a portion of your customer experience (or maybe marketing/promotion) budget set aside to empower your staff to “go above and beyond” for a customer. Just think what an impact it could have on your business if you spent a little money from time to time so that your customers will say (to themselves, or others), “WOW! I can’t believe they just did that for me!” Here are some tips to consider when you’re putting together your WOW budget: WOW budget tip no. 1: It does not need to cost a lot of money. Most of the time, it’s the heartfelt things you do for them that end up meaning more than something expensive. WOW budget tip no. 2: It needs to be personal. This should be something that you found out about them or something that may have significance to them. WOW budget tip no.3: Don't mistake this idea for “delighting” your customers. We should always strive to delight them. But we should "WOW" them on a random and unexpected basis. WOW budget tip no. 4: Because it is random, you get to choose the time and place. There is something to be said about the element of surprise. WOW budget tip no. 5: Listen to them to find out what is important to them. Ask them, "What is your favorite (fill in the blank)?” The word “favorite” elicits an immediate response when asked. Capture those answers to help craft and create the entire customer experience. WOW budget tip no. 6: It’s an additional thing you do for them. It’s not something you have promised them or something that they are already expecting. WOW budget tip no. 7: You get to pick who it's used on. Your WOW budget can be for a loyal client, one that you are trying to move to become a loyal client, or one that is a brand new client with that you would like to develop a stronger relationship.

WOW budget tip no. 8: When you WOW a customer, it can have a domino effect. You see, people LOVE to tell others the wonderful things that have just happened to them. Your customers are on the receiving end of this WOW and now have the opportunity to become storytellers for your brand. They will typically share their story with others in many ways, especially on social media.

For example, I still tell the story (three years later) of the time that I had the knock on the door of the hotel room that I was staying in while I was speaking at a conference in that city. The manager and a member of the hotel staff were there with a beautiful tray that had two homemade cookies, some chocolates, and a glass of milk on it. This was around 3 p.m. and they were intentional with that timeframe as well.

That was a WOW moment for me. But, there was an added WOW that went along with it -- it was the glass of milk. You see, I have a lactose allergy, and the milk was lactose-free! How did they know this? The meeting planner, my client, casually asked me one day during a conversation we were having. But here was the key, she remembered it and acted upon it.

This entire surprise probably cost them $2-3 dollars, but it made a very big impact on me…one that I still talk about three years later.

What about for your company? As you plan your budget for this year and next, make sure to add some money for a WOW budget and empower your staff to use it. Then you can sit back and wait for the stories to pop up of people shouting your company's praises. Bob Pacanovsky is a keynote speaker and trainer, and he works with companies and organizations that look to achieve the highest levels of Hospitality and Service Excellence to attract and retain more customers and employees. His programs are customized to meet the needs of his customers and he strives to always look for ways to deliver a Black Tie Experience. He can be reached at