Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Pizza Shuttle

Hall of Fame Class of 2012–Pizza Shuttle

I’m pretty sure everyone loves pizza. There are just so many ways that you can enjoy it. A variety of crusts, toppings, sauces, and servings really can make just about anyone happy. Plus, because there are so many different places to get pizza, the price can always be counted upon. Of course, not all pizza companies are created equal. Pizza Shuttle, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, throws in a handful of extras to their orders, setting them apart from the likes of places like Papa John’s, Godfather’s and Domino’s. That’s why Pizza Shuttle was added to the 2012 Hall of Fame.

THE ORIGIN

Located in Milwaukee, Wisconson Pizza Shuttle has a handful of signature extras. My personal favorite is the “The Largest Pie in Wisconsin” a veritable $39.95 gut buster. According to an article by Josh McDonald, it looks like they also throw in the ice cream as an added lagniappe. While there isn’t much out there about the origins of Pizza Shuttle, one thing is certain–they are the masters of a first and last impression when it comes to pizza.

WHY MONSTER PIES AND CUSTARD?

When it comes to eating pizza, there is no such thing as “enough.” Whether you’re struck by the ooey gooey cheese or the way your teeth sink into the crust, we usually can’t help but take just one more piece, can we? At Pizza Shuttle, their pies are out of this world good. Made up at just the right combination of cheese, crust, toppings, and grease, one slice is never enough. Of course, when you order a Monster Pie, you’re sure to have leftovers ensuring you get to enjoy your yummy pizza long after you’ve left Pizza Shuttle.

As for that free custard–Wisconsin is famous for dairy (think: cheese). Adding delicious free custard to the end of an already amazing meal will keep their customers talking–and coming back again and again. Besides, who doesn’t like free custard?!

TAKEAWAY

Sometimes, satisfying our customers doesn’t come from great customer service. Rather, it comes from giving them more of what they love–and less of what they don’t want. At Pizza Shuttle, they know the people who come to them want one thing: more pizza. What’s more, they always deliver.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – The Pizza Shuttle offers The Pizza Challenge–and your shot at winning $500. Watch one couple make the attempt in today’s video.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Ikea

Hall of Fame Class of 2012–Ikea

I still remember the first time I walked into IKEA. Let’s just say that I once thought walking into Target was going to be a suck on my wallet. Of course, as anyone who has been to IKEA knows, there are ample opportunities to furnish your place for so little money. However, in taking advantage of all of these inexpensive opportunities, you can actually end up spending quite a bit. One thing that helps IKEA customers spend even more? The fact that IKEA offers childcare services (meaning you can roam their vast store child-free) AND their delicious meatballs. I don’t think I’ve ever left IKEA without first downing a plate of meatballs.

THE ORIGIN

The little extras are baked into IKEA’s model. They epitomize high value and low maintenance. Free childcare at Smaland, free breakfast, low cost signature meals like Swedish meatballs and a slew of low cost items help place IKEA into the Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Best of all, IKEA has valued people from the beginning.Perhaps that is why they offer so many excellent perks to their customers. IKEA is a company that believes that people, both customers and employees, come before products–but together, people and products can be great.

WHY MEATBALLS AND CHILD CARE?

As anyone who has ever walked through an IKEA can attest, they day can be overwhelming. There just is no way around it. First of all, the IKEA inventory is vast. It just goes and goes and goes. When you’re taking a child through the inventory, overwhelmed can quickly lead to stressful. And, of course, so much walking is bound to make anyone at least a little hungry. IKEA has taken away the burdens of a long day of shopping for their customers by providing child-care and food. The question here should really be why NOT child care and meatballs?

TAKEAWAY

Shopping for a home can be a big burden. Not only is it stressful, it can also feel totally overwhelming. Luckily, the experts at IKEA have helped to lift a little bit of that burden from their customers via their freebies.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Whether you have or have never been to an IKEA, you’ll really enjoy this couple seeing the inside of IKEA for the first time ever.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Kiehl’s

Hall of Fame Class of 2012–Kiehl’s

Try it before you can buy it. Those words are music to my ears. Whether I’m buying a new car, sampling a new flavor of ice cream, or searching for a new pair of shoes–I want to be able to try something before I make my purchase. In most instances, I’m going to be stuck with said purchase and no real easy way out. Shouldn’t I be absolutely positive that I’m making the right decision? You may know that one of the 12 types of purple goldfish is sampling–and that is exactly what today’s Hall of Famer, Kiehl’s, does best.

THE ORIGIN

Kiehl’s allows customers to get samples in one of three ways–you can visit their store, you can visit their counter at a department store, or you can call them to request a sample. Why try something before you make a purchase? Kiehl’s explains it best when they say, “We understand that no two skin or hair types are exactly alike and that products work differently for each person. To ensure you find the precise products that meet your needs, Kiehl’s pioneered an extensive Sampling Program many years ago. We’re confident that when you try our products, you will recognize the high quality and efficacy of the preparation.”

WHY FREE SAMPLES?

As stated on their websites, Kiehl’s recognizes that while they may sell the same product to two different customers–no two customers are exactly alike. One may choose a shampoo for how it makes their hair feel while another customer may be strictly in love with how that same shampoo smells. The thing is that as customers, we’re so overwhelmed by the demand to buy RIGHT NOW (4th of July sale! One day only sale! Black Friday!) that we forget we have a choice in what we purchase. We’re allowed to try it, consider it, and make the best decision for ourselves that we can.

TAKEAWAY

Customers like to feel like they are in control–and that they are making good decisions. Free samples are one way that we can empower our customers to feel like they’re in charge of the purchases they’re making and the money they’re spending. That is an excellent gift to be able to give to a customer.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Sometimes, getting a free sample more than once could require a disguise. At least, it does in the video below.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–L.L. Bean

Hall of Fame Class of 2012–L.L. Bean

In my experience (and probably yours) the word “no” when it comes to good customer service is unheard of. After all, “no” has a negative connotation in most cases. That’s why when, as a customer, I experience the word “no” in a positive way I sit up and pay attention. With Maine retailer L.L. Bean the word “NO” isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact when it comes to free shipping and guarantees, they really know how to turn a negative into a positive.

THE ORIGIN

Leon Leonwood Bean, founder of L.L. Bean, returned from a hunting trip back in 1912 with really cold, wet feet and a revolutionary idea. He started to combine rubber bottoms with soft leather uppers, thereby creating a waterproof, non-slip boot that didn’t exist anywhere else at the time. Today, these duck shoes are imitated by many retailers but can’t compare with the originals by L.L. Bean  which to this day are handcrafted in Maine. And because L.L. Bean is so convinced his boots were the best boots, he offered a LIFETIME guarantee on them. How’s THAT for good customer service?

WHY FREE SHIPPING AND A GUARANTEE?

Free shipping is one of those little items a store can throw in that makes a big difference today. I can’t be the only one who has looked at my online shopping cart and decided to toss a product because five things were far more expensive to ship than four. In today’s world, free shipping is excellent business practice.

Now let’s talk about that other word: guarantee. The truth is that if you have an excellent product and you stand behind it, there is no reason you shouldn’t offer a guarantee on it to your customers. Many companies do, but putting it out there in print makes a big difference to your customers. L. L. Bean clearly knows this and it works for them.

TAKEAWAY

Creating a good product or service that you feel confident selling is very important. At L. L. Bean, they’re so confident in what they’re sending to you that they’re not putting any restrictions on how long it will last–it’s guaranteed for a lifetime and ships at NO cost. No doubt customers feel excellent putting their money toward L.L. Bean products time after time–since about 1912.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Did you know that L.L. Bean offers outdoor discovery schools for kids? Learn more about what they do and how they hope the great outdoors can impact a whole new generation.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Besito

Hall of Fame Class of 2012–Besito

Dining out continues to be a bit of a luxury these days. Whether it’s fast food or a sit down restaurant, the fact is that not every household can afford the perk of eating outside their home. Perhaps that’s why when I go out to dine with my family, I’m forever looking forward to those little extras some restaurants will give that ultimately make me want to return to them. From fortune cookies to flying peanuts, it truly is the small touches that make restaurants stand out from their competition. So is the case with today’s Hall of Famer, Besito– a New York restaurant. They like to throw in churros and worry dolls for every patron–and customers love it.

THE ORIGIN

Besito means “little kiss” in Spanish. It also happens to be the name of an authentic Mexican restaurant based in Roslyn, New York. According to their website, each of the now six Besito restaurants is a love story. Their locations are an extension of the connection and respect they feel for one another and the food they share with their customers. It’s a beautiful sentiment that extends from their foundation as a business all the way out to what they feed to their customers and how their customers are treated.

WHY CHURROS AND WORRY DOLLS?

It makes sense that a restaurant would throw in additional food as a “thank you for coming.” At Besito, a churro which is a warm, long spirals of fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar is delivered in a white paper bag ready for you to take home (you’ll be too full to eat it after your delicious meal–trust me). Along with your churros, a tiny “worry doll” is included to be put under our pillows to take away worries. Both items are deeply rooted in culture, giving that little extra to customers in a very unique way.

TAKEAWAY

Why did you go into business? This is one of those questions that is incredibly important for you to answer, but many business owners aren’t sure how to respond. Besito came about through a love of food and culture. That culture is extended beyond a patron’s single stop at one of their six restaurants, spilling over into a memorable adventure for however long that worry doll lies under said patron’s pillow. 

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Ready to make your own worry doll who can help take all of your worries away while you sleep? Here’s a video on how to do just that. Don’t worry–they’re quite simple to create.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Mitchells

Hall of Fame Class of 2012–Mitchells

As customers, we like to know that we’re appreciated. Perhaps that is why even the smallest gesture from a company we’ve done business with has a huge impact. Jack Mitchell is CEO of The Mitchells Family of Stores, and owns several high-end retail stores, including Marsh, Mitchells, and Richards. What do these stores have in common? Their bottom line is all about impacting their customers in positive ways–and they do this through personal touches.

THE ORIGIN

Jack Mitchell, CEO of Mitchells Family Stores, authored a book titled Hug Your Customers. One might guess that this is a man who is exceptionally customer-centric. What is more, it seems that Mitchell has been that way from the beginning saying, “It can be something as simple as a smile. It’s about making a human connection. Connections are ‘hugs.’ And hugs create loyalty.”

WHY WRITE THANK YOU NOTES?

Technology is truly becoming the norm in business. Think about it: when was the last time you as a business owner personally thanked a customer? When was the last time you personalized those thanks through a handwritten note–not an email generated by an email nurturing sequence? Jack Mitchell wrote 1,793 personal notes to the customers of his retail stores which adds up to about 5 notes every single day. You can bet that those handwritten notes are far more meaningful to customers than just about any technology-driven thank you.

TAKEAWAY

We all get busy running our businesses. Sometimes, we get so busy on the back end of running a business we can forget how to take care of our customers ourselves. Jack Mitchell probably set aside about an hour a day to write those five personalized thank you notes. It’s a little touch that makes a big difference to his customers and THAT makes all the difference to a business.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Not sure how to write a thank you for your business? Here’s a short guide on how to write a thank you note that will have a big impact on your customers (or just your grandma).

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Amazon

Hall of Fame Class of 2011–Amazon

A real symbol of near instant gratification, the existence of Amazon means that we can buy pretty much anything we want, at any time of the day or night, with just a single click. What’s more, Amazon can have it at our doorstep practically overnight. They have truly revolutionized the way consumers purchase both wants (books, movies, the latest gizmo) and necessities (toilet paper, deodorant) – as if we needed more of an incentive!

THE ORIGIN

Started by Jeff Bezos in 1994 as a humble online bookstore, with a small branch for DVDs and CDs, Amazon very quickly grew. Soon, they began to offer downloadable content and expanded into everything from toys to clothing to electronics. More recently with the advent of the Kindle and “online TV”, Amazon is now also the world’s largest content marketplace, as well as the largest provider of Cloud infrastructure.  

WHY PRIME MEMBERSHIPS?

Essentially, if you can’t buy it at Amazon, it probably isn’t for sale. And because just about everyone loves and uses Amazon, they’ve come up with a way to make their best customers really happy. Amazon does this through their Amazon prime membership, which for a small fee offers users a way to get absolutely ANYTHING that they order on Amazon to their doorstep within two days. This really taps into our human need for instant gratification. Amazon also has a clearly spelled out return policy and have a history of handling customer service issues quickly and without fuss, which is what really secures their place in the Purple Goldfish Hall of Fame.

TAKEAWAY

There’s a lot to be said for a company that can get you just about anything and ship it to you within a couple of days. That being said, Amazon also has some great qualities as an organization. Initiatives like building wind farms and partnering with education providers in Africa to bring opportunities for literacy and access to books to underserved areas are just a few of their better known ones. Did I mention the robots? Amazon’s warehouse automation is amongst the most advanced in the world and has to see seen to be believed!

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Did I get your curious about the Amazon robots? Find out exactly what I’m talking about in the video below.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Izzy’s Ice Cream

Hall of Fame Class of 2011–Izzy’s Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of those things that pretty much everyone can agree is wonderful. While an ice cream cone on a hot summer day can really hit the spot, there’s also something to be said for a hot fudge sundae in the middle of winter. While we may not be too picky about where our ice cream comes from–a pint from the local grocery store or a scoop from our local ice cream shop–one thing can’t be argued: handmade ice cream is truly a spectacular treat for our tastebuds. Izzy’s Ice Cream knows this–that’s why they hand out free scoops of the stuff.

THE ORIGIN

Driven by a desire to run their own business and a genuine love for ice cream, owners of Izzy’s, Jeff and Lara, spent a significant amount of time learning how to craft ice cream and unique flavor profiles from Italian gelato experts. Once they felt they had a handle on things, they began to create small batches of the very best flavors using exceptional ingredients.  

Jeff and Lara also have an innovative approach to business. Not only do they source the best ingredients from around the world, but they have a very community-based focus as well. Jeff and Lara encourage their employees to be involved in community and charity projects. They themselves have a commitment to sustainability, using solar energy for much of their operational needs as well as eco-friendly practices that mean the store creates zero chemical waste.

WHY ICE CREAM?

With 150 different flavors to chose from, it’s easy to get stuck when trying to decide which of their creations to enjoy. Thankfully, Izzy’s Ice Cream will indulge you with a variety of samples so that you can pick the perfect combinations before you make a decision. This is much less a “try before you buy” and much more a chance to broaden your ice cream horizons by offering you a chance to sample options you might not normally have considered. If you’re not convinced by a new, wacky flavor, you can always stick with your old favorites.

TAKEAWAY

There is ice cream and then there is ice cream artistry. Izzy’s Ice Cream with their seemingly infinite flavor options, and their commitment to making desserts with high-quality ingredients, absolutely falls into the category of ice cream art. In giving their customers the ability to sample the flavors, customers get more than just a treat. They get a real experience.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Have you ever found yourself wondering just how ice cream is made? Today’s little something extra will show you exactly how it all happens:

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Whole Foods

Hall of Fame Class of 2011–Whole Foods

Whole Foods just SMELLS different than other grocery stores, doesn’t it? I’m not sure what it is, but every time I walk into one, I just feel a sense of calm wash over me. Maybe it’s because I know I’m not about to purchase anything with dozens of preservatives packed into it. Whatever the reason, you know that you’re into something good when the place where you purchase your food is somewhat of a mecca for those seeking good health and overall safer food options. It’s almost like a Farmers Market contained inside four walls.

THE ORIGIN

You might find their origins surprising but Whole Foods Market began in the land of the deep fried everything: Texas. This Austin born company was a huge leap forward for a small but growing movement across the nation that recognized the need for higher quality foods with a lower ecological footprint and a greater focus on organics. In fact, Whole Foods was the first real “health food supermarket” appearing at a time when its founders felt that people were ready for “real food” to become mainstream. Jumping on board the train early proved to be the right move and now Whole Foods can be found everywhere.

WHY ALL THE WHOLESOME FOOD?

There are really too many reasons to list, but Whole Foods offers an increasingly popular perspective on personal health and local sustainability. With a commitment to source ethically grown and produced foods, as well as a very clear labeling policy, confidence is 100% a part of the shopping experience at Whole Foods. That’s why people like it. Sure something costs $3 more than it would at another grocery store–but it’s also not packed full of preservatives and dyes that you can’t pronounce. Whole Foods also make a substantial effort to use clean energy in the running of their stores. They also have a higher than usual basic wage for all employees and tend to favor partnerships with smaller, often family-run organic farms.

It also doesn’t hurt that Whole Foods sells reusable bags as well as bags of ice that can be delivered to your doorstep within one hour.

TAKEAWAY

Whether you’re just interested in cleaner foods and personal care products or you like to experiment with the newest health craze or super food, you’re going to find what you’re looking for at Whole Foods. The fact that you get to support small business and tread a little lighter on the environment in the process is really just the chia seed cherry on top of your organic green smoothie cake!

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Are you in the school of thought that Whole Foods is just too expensive? Watch this food prep challenge and see how affordable this awesomely organic company can be.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Jet Blue

Hall of Fame Class of 2011–Jet Blue

Traveling by air has become incredibly routine, particularly in the United States. One might even say that because it’s such a common way to travel, the whole idea has lost much of its romantic allure. People no longer dress up to travel, first class seating is often blended with economy, and forget about free meals! Seasoned travelers know all too well that instead of the excitement of travel, they can expect minimal leg room and incredibly ordinary customer service. Maybe that is why the experience of flying with JetBlue is refreshing, more than making up for not being able to choose who you sit next to!

THE ORIGIN

Originally from Delaware and now the 6th largest American airline (as well as one of the more tenacious of the homegrown air travel companies) JetBlue’s unofficial mission statement of treating its passengers like people has seen it through some rough times. That mission statement has also ensured that its fleet has hung on in the turbulent world or air travel over the last 19 years. The airline’s charming local feel combined with a surprisingly simple, no-nonsense brand  echoes Jet Blue’s straightforward approach to the airline travel business–and it works for them.

WHY THE CUSTOMER BILL OF RIGHTS?

One of the worst parts of airline travel is feeling like your just a number. As one of 200 passengers, you’re filed onto the plane and filed off, with little more than a “thanks for flying with us.” JetBlue on the other hand created a manifesto detailing what they believe the rights of their customers are, as well as Jet Blue’s obligation to ensuring excellent customer service. The Jet Blue Bill of Rights includes detailed information about how they will compensate customers for delays and other travel issues– and it is probably among the most comprehensive guarantees of good service I’ve ever laid eyes on.

It doesn’t stop there. Not only has JetBlue made sure their processes are customer-centric, they’ve ensured their flights are as well. Boasting comfortable leather seats, free wifi, inflight entertainment, snacks you’d actually want to eat, and a variety of drinks, Jet Blue has the traveling for distances thing down to a science. As if that’s not enough, Jet Blue also supports and mentors small start-up businesses to help foster their local economy.

TAKEAWAY

JetBlue takes the needs of their customers seriously. They know exactly where to apply a little extra care and attention to ensure that everyone who buys a ticket with them has a great flying experience. Best of all, if for some reason things don’t go according to plan, Jet Blue does whatever they can to ensure their customers still have an excellent flight experience. It’s a welcome approach to travelers weary of airlines who bring to life the concept of “cattle class” and it’s why Jet Blue made the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 here at Purple Goldfish.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Jet Blue loves to help lift up small companies. Here’s just one example of how they support local.