Embrace boredom. Deliver better customer experiences

Why being bored helps you deliver better customer experiences

Delivering remarkable customer experiences on a consistent basis is a smart way to grow your business. These defining moments draw the people you want to serve closer to you, as they compel your customers to tell all their friends about the swoon-worthy experience they had with you.      

And while no company aspires to deliver terrible experiences to their customers, many struggle to deliver ones that make an impact. As a result, interactions with their customers are largely forgettable. No bueno.

Being remarkable more than just every now and then requires a company culture that not only expects it, but creates an environment that enables it to flourish.

To cultivate that culture, you’ll have to get comfortable embracing boredom. Here’s why.

1. You’ll get more creative ideas.

Too many of us have a terrible habit of packing every minute of every day with something to do. From the moment you get up, to the time you go to bed, your mind is working through a to-do list ranging from work tasks, personal development, and family obligations.

And while being productive and maximizing your time can be valuable, your mind needs time to rest. When you do, you’ll find that will you be more creative.

I have the best ideas when my mind has the freedom to roam. That’s why I often get an abundance of brilliant ideas and major breakthroughs on areas where I’m stuck, while doing yoga. Just the other day ideas pour into my head during a marathon session of doing my hair.  

Feeling inspired about the rush of ideas, I stopped to think through why this didn’t happen more often. That’s when I realized that too often my days are filled with things to do: write, do client work, workout, cook dinner, run errands, do my Spanish lesson, get ready to hang out with friends.

Even though my time is filled with more than just work, there is rarely any room for my mind to have down time.

Research has proven the link between boredom and creativity as well. In one study, participants who had completed the boring task of copying numbers from a phone book produced significantly more ideas for uses for a pair of plastic cups, than a control group. 

In another study, people who watched a boring video clip outperformed those who’d watched a different type of video on a subsequent activity designed to measure convergent thinking. 

In summarizing this phenomenon, best-selling author and professor David Burkus explained, “an idle mind will seek a toy.”

You’ve got to create a culture that doesn’t frown upon idle time. When your team has the breathing room to think, they will be more likely to produce ideas that improve your customers’ experiences.

2. You’ll have time to implement your creative ideas.

Not leaving enough room for boredom presents another challenge as well: it doesn’t leave any room for acting on the ideas and opportunities when they come.

A few weeks ago, my cousin was in town playing in a basketball tournament. A couple of days before the game, I thought it would be nice to make a big sign with his name on it, to assist me and my crew in cheering him along during the game.

The sign never got made. Sigh. I ran out of time. I’d packed my schedule so much with other “priorities”, I didn’t leave space in my schedule to execute a small gesture that would have brightened my cousin’s day a little more. Boo.

Seizing the opportunity to delight your customers can take time. And if you’re too busy with everything else on your to-do list, you may miss the chance to act on a moment that will create lasting memories for your customers.

A team member at The Ritz Carlton made a little boy’s day a few years back. After the child left his beloved stuffed giraffe Joshie at one of their resorts, an associate made time to snap pictures of the stuffed giraffe having a glorious day at the resort. The photos showed Joshie getting a massage, riding a golf cart, and even lounging by the pool.

When Joshie was delivered back to his family, he was accompanied by a binder showing all the photos of his adventures at the resort.

The moment of delight for the child, his family, and the thousands of people who heard about it after the story went viral would never have happened if the team at The Ritz Carlton were ‘too busy’ to act on the fun idea.

Encourage your team to look for and seize opportunities to deliver remarkable experiences for your customers. It doesn’t have to be over the top to make an impact either.

Being productive is good. But consistently delivering unforgettable customer experiences is better. Spend your time wisely.

This article first appeared on Inc.com