If the past few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that no matter how well we think we anticipate every eventuality at work, something can come up to throw us all off course. While none of us were expecting a global pandemic to influence our career trajectories, our new collective reality is trying to figure out how to continue to excel at our jobs while staying home.
Some companies and individuals are becoming increasingly creative at connecting—and impressing—even long-time clients or colleagues. By creating micro-experiences, or something even tiny to show appreciation to someone you work with might be a great thing to start doing right now.
Share their milestones
A few weeks back a colleague tweeted about her customer service experience with accounting software company FreshBooks. Apparently, during the course of their conversation, she explained that it was her 15-year work anniversary. The next day a gorgeous bouquets of flowers arrived congratulating her on her milestone. I reached out to FreshBooks to chat about it and learned a thing or two about creating the small but impactful experiences that make people want to work with you time and time again.
Keep the good feelings going
“We really want to make an authentic experience, and if you’re having a really good experience, we want to continue it” said Steve Bujouves, VP Support at FreshBooks. Bujouve was being modest with that claim. Everyone who works at FreshBooks has to work for at least a month in customer service to understand their client base. And customer service reps have a generous budget they can use at their discretion. Bujouves said that customer service rep Renee connected with the colleague I mentioned above and then reached
for the company credit card to send her some flowers. He also shared a story that took customer connection to a deeper level.
A few months back, someone called FreshBooks to cancel their account. Apparently, they were a service person who was being deployed. As Bujouves tells it, the customer service rep speaking with them, googled “what are the top things a person being deployed needs?” In that case, the answer was baby wipes and socks. “So, our rep made up a care package and sent those items. It was pretty random.” It was also a gesture extended to someone who had canceled their account, making the gesture that much more personal and meaningful.
Make a small gesture
Your gestures don’t have to be huge to have a major impact. Karen Giberson, president of the nonprofit Accessories Council tells me that in the coming weeks she’s going to host a fun a virtual accessories cocktail party. “From the waist up, wear your best accessories,” is the recommended dress code. It’s a cute way to remind people that you can still find fun and normalcy even when self-isolating.
Keep the feeling of a community going
Marie Lott, the Community Manager for shared workspace community Venture X San Antonio, always prioritized providing her tenants with consistent and fun micro-experiences. She initially developed her approach by receiving on “how we can better connect with each other, internally, and the community.” While none of us are having in-person shared experiences right now, it’s the sharing aspect that’s most important, as Lott puts it “Their happiness is the reason we stay afloat.” So, creating a virtual gesture or experience right now reminds your clients or team why you stick together through even the toughest times.
Make good use of technology
“Make a point to create dates for actual conversations beyond emailing and texting” advises Rebecca Bloom, Editorial Director, Amava. “There are many tools that allow you to have face-to-face interactions that are easily accessible and using them is worth the effort. In addition to these regular team meetings, schedule some virtual water-cooler time to just catch up and bond with your team.” Doing this reinforces the idea that “We can still be there for one another during these challenging times – maybe even more than usual. Figuring out ways to proactively help others can lift the spirits of everyone involved.”
Some micro experiences worth trying:
- Set up a shared storytime: If you’re already reading to your own kids, set up a virtual story time to give your other working from home colleagues a break.
- Set up a virtual book club: Bloom said it’s a great way to connect with “other adults who need interaction and social engagement.” Set up a virtual book club over FaceTime or Google Hangouts. And the book doesn’t have to be long or extensive. *Self-promotion alert* I’ve heard from people all over the country who are picking up their copies of my book Ancient Prayer and reading a page aloud with their families every morning.
- Arrange a cooking class via video: Bloom also suggests fun ways to connect including giving virtual lessons one-on-one or in small groups and share those three-ingredient meals, what to make with what’s in the pantry and more.