"Creating UFEs-Unforgettable Experiences"

UFEs an acronym for "Unforgettable Experiences" are the building blocks of memorable customer experiences. These building blocks are the result of powerful connections with customers each time they interact to experience a company’s products or services. The ability to replicate UFE experiences is the key to growing and developing a platinum brand that provides organizations with a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace.

To uncover the UFEs you have experienced, take a moment and remember your last vacation, long weekend trip or recent getaway. Then, think about the experiences you had and those that you recounted after the fact to friends, colleagues and associates. Most people do not just recount experiences; they create commercials and play them over and over again. These commercials are the hallmark of true UFE experiences.

Memorable experiences are both positive and negative. They are the result of connections that make deposits in customers’ emotional bank accounts during the various phases of the customer experience cycle. These commercials by customers are usually played hundreds sometimes thousands of times. They have a tremendous influence on the sustainability of an organization's marketplace brand.

In order to develop UFE products and services, it is essential to look for leverage points that may be developed or improved. There are five characteristic areas that may be leveraged. These are sense appeal, interaction with people, the environment and surroundings, uniqueness, and an internal connection.

The first characteristic is sense appeal. Experiences that appeal to the senses of Taste, Touch, Sight, Smell and Sound allow for more memorability. Food, music and hands on activities that involve the senses are great ways to enhance company products and services. If you look at the Christmas or holiday season it is easy to identify the senses of the season. These sensory connections transport people to past UFEs and memorable moments that last a lifetime.

The second area is interaction with people. For many organizations, people may be their best asset to delivering unforgettable product or service experiences. The goal of 100% of an organization’s associates being nice 100% of the time will consistently create unforgettable customer experiences. Believe it or not, really nice people do create memorable experiences for customers.

For many organizations, the environment or physical surroundings may be a major key to a UFE. Trips to the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls are two natural wonders that are certainly unforgettable for most people. On the other hand, retailers are increasingly developing unforgettable environments to create lasting customer impressions. Just step into a Bass Pro shop in the mid-west or a Jordan’s Furniture showroom in the greater Boston area and you will enjoy UFE environments.

The forth area to leverage is uniqueness. Experiences that are new or completely unique to customers make for UFEs. The Amish country of Lancaster, Pennsylvania is one such place. Here the Amish folk live a very simple lifestyle and co-exist without the use of the daily modern conveniences many take for granted. This destination provides visitors with an experience that is completely unique to their worldview, a real UFE.

Finally, the most powerful leverage characteristic is the ability to create an internal or personal connection with your product or service. Walt Disney World is one such place where the characters, ambience and sense appeal experiences connect many to the kid inside each one of us. In addition to everyone's first visit to "The Kingdom" a truly memorable visit also occurs when accompanying a child or adult on his or her first visit.

To understand your organization's key leverage points, review the five characteristics mentioned to determine which ones would allow you the best opportunity to enhance or develop a UFE. Review the various types and points of connection with current customers to indicate whether you are making deposits in your clients' emotional bank accounts.

For best results undertake an audit of the connections your clients' experience throughout the customer cycle and evaluate these points of connection. This is accomplished by reviewing the four phases in the cycle of customer interaction. The first phase is the information or buying phase when a customer makes point of contact to initiate a buying decision. Next is the experience phase when a client actually experiences the product or service.

The third area is the anchor moments. These are windows of opportunity for creating first and last impressions. Anchor moments are times when customers' emotional bank accounts are most open and deposits either positive or negative have a more lasting impact. Check in and check out of a hotel are prime examples of anchor moments that create memorable lasting impressions.

Finally, follow up and future contact are connection points that allow for reinforcement of UFE experiences. The ability to bounce customers back to re-experience a product or service again creates UFE brand loyalty. This may be done in a variety of ways with either clicks or bricks. After careful review of customer connections during the client life cycle of your product, you will be able to understand both the strengths and weak points of your organization's UFE connections.

Absolutely any product or service can be converted to an experience, the key is a willingness to understand your customer interactions and innovate the experience.

One of the best examples of innovation and experience creation is the result achieved by a little company in Seattle, Washington called Starbucks. They have taken a commodity product; the coffee bean and converted the service of making a regular cup of Java, cream and two sugars into an experience. Starbucks is a $ 1.2 billion powerhouse experience. They know you will average a $ 3.40 experience each trip and if you are hooked you will have 18 experiences a month!

If a cup of coffee can be turned into an experience, there is endless possibility for every organization delivering products and services in today’s marketplace to create UFEs!


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Joe Veneto, "The Opportunity Guy," is principal of Opportunities Unlimited, a management consulting and training company. He collaborates with organizations in Tourism, Hospitality and Service-related industries to achieve results by creating new business opportunities. His areas of specialty include sales development, innovative product development, destination marketing and customer service. Joe is a 20-year veteran of the tourism industry and has worked for national tour operators and major industry wholesalers.

Opportunities Unlimited provides management consulting services, custom designed seminars and results-oriented training workshops. Clients include government tourism agencies, marketing organizations, hotel groups, historic attractions & museums, restaurants, tour operators and others. Joe's unique industry experience enables him to create practical, results oriented programs tailored to his client’s business needs.

In addition to his consulting, Joe is a nationally recognized speaker on the Tourism & Hospitality Industries. He presents programs annually for National Associations, Regional Tourism Groups, Industry-wide Conferences and Convention & Visitors Bureaus. He has also authored several articles that have appeared in various travel trade publications.

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