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.
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.
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).
Verizon personalizes its service through a desktop solution called Rep Guidance. The system shows reps detailed customer information such as how much data they use, what shows they watch and which TV equipment they use the most. Rep Guidance allows call center representatives to foster more intelligent, better-connected conversations with customers on one single screen.
Real-time data. It’s a term that is often used in the world of customer service, but one that is rarely defined. When it comes to running a successful business of any size, keeping your customers happy is an obvious priority. In today’s tech-driven world, this can actually be achieved in ways we never before imagined: using real-time data.
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!
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.
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.
Perhaps you’ve heard the name Kim Kardashian. I’m not a Kardashian follower myself, but naturally I’ve heard of Kim. Who hasn’t, am I right? Celebrity branding expert, Jeetendr Sehdev, recently wrote a new book titled The Kim Kardashian Principle. In it, he explains why transparency leads to authenticity, an intimate experience that audiences want to have with their favorite brands according to the AMA. Sehdev argues that overexposure, limited editing and flaws are actually good things, despite their sometimes negative connotations. Read the full article about Sehdev’s new book here.
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.
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.
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:
A common but potentially fatal flaw for any service based business it to mistake their customer experience for customer service itself. Admittedly, I think we’ve all been guilty of this before–I know I have. Of course, it’s recognizing this flaw and turning it around that can make all the difference.
With the focus for many organizations being zeroed in on employee training and improvement practices around customer service that’s offered, many businesses miss the point of a bad experience in the first place. In this scenario, the majority of resources a business has for customer service are spent on ensuring that each touchpoint during the customer’s journey creates an exceptional service experience. It’s a great tactic, but it certainly does not guarantee you have a happy customer at the end of the journey. After all, if the process of obtaining, using, or troubleshooting a service or product is faulty, the customer experience may still be a negative one despite ideal customer service.
Customer expectations are binary. You either exceed them, or you fall short. Similarly, if you’re trying to keep up with increasing consumer expectations, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Amazon, no longer a small online bookstore by any measure, knows this. Their objective isn’t to meet expectations. Rather, their objective is to exceed customer expectations such that customer expectations increase by way of the service they provide. Scot Wingo, Co-Founder of Channel Advisor, calls this increasing customer expectation the “Amazon Effect.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.