Last month, Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock was impressed by an interaction between his team's 21-year-old right winger, Mitch Marner, and a young fan--so much so that he highlighted it to his other players, the team's fans, and the world. 

Here is how it started:

That video moment, where a big, tough hockey player connected with a fan through the glass partition, has been viewed more than 925,000 times (and that's just online--almost every TV network showed the clip, pushing the true number of viewers closer to 2 million). 

The coach's comments, as reported by the Toronto Sun, reflect the importance of customer experience in any business model: 

"As long as you understand that the only reason you get to do this for a living is because you have fans, you never lose sight of what's important. The game is about the people and the people that love it and the reason you're in it is because you love it. You would do it for free, you're blessed to be in this game, and then to share that moment, I thought it was spectacular."

Marner's actions illustrate the importance of keeping customer experience top of mind for all your front-line staff. The key for entrepreneurs is understanding what both Marner and Babcock understand intuitively: top performers always remember who they really work for. For Marner, this moment was only one of thousands of fan interactions he will have during his career, but for the fan, the experience was more rare and likely far more treasured.

The secret to being a top performer is an unwavering dedication to delivering a first-rate customer experience. It's about always reminding yourself that each audience member or customer has paid their own hard-earned money for your product or service. Marner showcases the importance of respecting one's customers and relentlessly focusing on delivering extraordinary value to them.

My favorite part of this story is the off-ice hat-trick Marner scored through his interaction. He scored once with the fan, generating a lifelong memory. He scored again when his coach highlighted the moment to the media. And he scored a third time when the story went viral and was shared around the world. 

How can business owners encourage front-line employees to make genuine human connections while at work? How can we motivate our teams to obsess over delivering top customer experiences? Here are five ways you can apply Marner's approach in your business:

  1. Encourage all front-line employees to make customer experience a priority. Perhaps share Marner's story as a sign of the importance of everyone's attention to customer experience. 
  2. Make customer success stories a key metric. What we measure matters, so try rewarding employees who have an extraordinary impact by tying successful customer experiences to compensation.
  3. Recognize employees who deliver on customer service. This will help normalize the activity and encourage the rest of the team to strive for the same success. 
  4. Consider making customer success stories a key marketing tool. When you sell your product on the basis of customer success, you can attract potential customers. Marner's video encapsulates an experience many hockey fans dream about. You, too, can showcase your company's value by showcasing the success of your current users.
  5. Encourage customers to share their opinions on social media. Perhaps even put signs up in the workplace where customers can interact with your company's hashtag and Twitter handle. 

Most of us have front-line employees who interact with customers daily. To increase the power of those interactions, encourage your staff to personify the Marner method.