There is something magical about a jack-in-the-box. First, the toy is always colorful. Most make happy music as you wind the crank. But, the coolest part is the fact that you never know exactly when the “jack” is going to pop out of the box. What makes this toy such an alluring novelty is the element of surprise.

Innovative service is like a jack-in-the-box–colorful service punctuated by a joyful surprise. Like the toy, innovative service is service with novelty. And, the root meaning of the word “novelty” is “new,” as in fresh and original.

A colorful gumball machine sits on a small table at the entrance foyer to Miller Brothers Ltd., an upscale men’s clothing store in Atlanta. Beside it is a large bowl of pennies. Guess where Junior goes while daddy is trying on trousers? Novelty at it’s finest. A dry cleaner in Charlotte gives a candy kiss to every customer. But, the familiar chocolate candy has a surprise—an almond in the middle. Novelty! Compliment Mama’s awesome apple cobbler at Wendell’s Country Kitchen in Cleveland, GA and Mama just might surprise you with a copy of her secret recipe!

At a time when value-added service has gotten way too pricey maybe it is time try value-unique. Customers recall, return, and refer others to those experiences that engage them emotionally and leave them with a positive memory. Creating a place of joy can help your unit or organization become the customer’s “oasis of choice.” And, innovative service can take their breath away.

Photo Credit: timlewisnm via Flickr