How can you go above and beyond for those around you? Centric’s Jennifer Barnes offers some advice.

You know that feeling? The one you get when you do something really special for someone? When you surprise them by going above and beyond? When you make them smile? When you walk away knowing that the person’s day is a little better because you were a part of it?

As a member of the Centric team, I understand the power of “that feeling.”

Centric was founded on the belief that success comes from doing good work and creating value for those around you. That real fulfillment – on both client and consultant sides – comes from that feeling:

  • Of doing something extra… not because you had to, but because you wanted to.
  • Of making those around you feel special, important, and appreciated.
  • Of surprising and delighting people.

Centric calls this feeling UMCX: creating unmatched experiences for clients and colleagues.

So what is an unmatched experience? What does it look like?

It can be:

  • Picking up the slack when a colleague is feeling behind or distracted, without being asked.
  • Having a genuine conversation with a client to help them feel better about something that may have nothing to do with work.
  • Doing something that is completely unexpected.
  • Working harder than you thought you could work, and then working some more – all in the name of creating success for those around you.
  • Forming a connection that goes beyond the surface; recognizing that people have interests and passions beyond work.

But what is it, really? What does it feel like? What behaviors lead to unmatched experiences?

Unmatched experiences can take many forms. Going deeper, it’s helpful to understand the thoughts that lie beneath the actions: What behaviors and philosophies enable a culture of creating unmatched experiences for those around us:

  1. Be human. It’s about looking people in the eye, making a connection, and being real. Don’t let roles, hierarchies, and historical expectations stand in your way of establishing deeper relationships. Get to know those around you, both customers and colleagues, at more meaningful levels. Shed your ego, and challenge yourself to be vulnerable; that’s how each of us grows, after all. Be open, and share willingly of yourself. Be your best self.
  2. Be present. Truly listen. This is about being aware, and being deliberate. Look for cues that tell you what a person really needs – both professionally and personally – to make them feel connected and fulfilled. Look for ways to make them whole.
  3. Be thoughtful: Take an extra minute to go the extra mile. Take a few moments and think, “How can I go a little beyond what this person is expecting of me? How can I make their job easier? How can I delight them, and bring a smile to their face?” Get creative, and when your instincts would naturally tell you you’ve done enough… take it one step further.

Why is creating a culture of UMCX important?

Every company has employees, and every company has customers. This means that each day, there are opportunities to impact the lives of the people you serve. This makes the topic of creating unmatched experiences a universal one.

I’ve found that creating a culture of unmatched experiences:

  • Makes others happier, more fulfilled and more successful.
  • Makes me happier, more fulfilled and more successful.
  • Fosters creativity.
  • Empowers employees.
  • Strengthens company culture.
  • Helps retain employees and makes sure we are attracting and recruiting people who are aligned with company core values.

In an era where companies talk about being customer-centric and improving the customer journey, this mindset inherently puts the customer at the center of the universe. Before processes, before efficiency, before IT… creating a culture of unmatched experiences means creating a culture where teams are aligned in doing the right thing, and having heart.

Where do you start in creating a UMCX culture?

I know that for some, unmatched experiences are already a way of life. For others, embracing unmatched experiences may represent a shift in culture or attitude. Regardless of where you land on the scale, following the measures below can go a long way in helping evolve and institutionalize a culture of unmatched experiences.

  1. Don’t be afraid to start small. Gestures don’t have to be grandiose to have an impact.
  2. Lead by doing. Set the tone by practicing what you preach. Look for opportunities to practice being human, being present, and being thoughtful with both customers and colleagues.
  3. Create a UMCX Steward role. Find individuals within your organization that are passionate about creating unmatched experiences. Empower them to be stewards of change.
  4. Reward good behavior. At Centric, employees are not only encouraged to create unmatched experiences, but are rewarded for it. Create a way to acknowledge or reward examples of UMCX in your company and reinforce your commitment to this cultural shift.
  5. Share your stories. Talking about unmatched experiences does more than give those around you new ideas: It lets people around us know that it is important – and expected – to go out of the way for others. I’ve found that the more you talk about creating UMCX, the more you do it. And the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.

Unmatched experiences are both grand and small gestures, both planned and spontaneous. They bring fulfillment to both the creator and the recipient. Be deliberate and persistent in your efforts to create a series of individual unmatched experiences for those around you and you’ll find that over time, you’ll have created an entire culture.