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.
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.
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.
There are so many marketing companies out there these days doing so many different things. From commanding the digital space to being more effective in branding, marketing companies certainly aren’t lacking in options for their specialty. But while the number of marketing companies continues to grow, the one thing that remains constant in how they reach you…is change.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, atiny “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.
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.
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).
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.
Don’ make the conclusion that personalization is mostly science. Companies today are also turning to subjective data as a part of their personalization efforts. One such company is Stitch Fix, which offers online personal stylists for women.
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.
I’m often asked what the biggest takeaways are when it comes to technology, data, and business. The truth is that there are a lot of things we need to be aware of. However, in the book Blue Goldfish, I share nine important takeaways that I think you’ll find helpful.