How to Manage Customer Relationships on Social Media

Don’t get caught up in thinking that customer relationship management is just for those big box store brands. As it stands, managing the relationship you have with customers can make or break your business. If you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, or something in between, I’m willing to bet that you’re wanting your business to succeed–and customer relationship management is key. Sure you can invest in expensive CRM software, but remember that all the software in the word can’t take the place of YOU.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Trader Joe’s

Hall of Fame Class of 2011–Trader Joe’s

Taking your children just about anywhere these days can be tough. Most places aren’t exactly “kid friendly.” I don’t know about you, but I find the grocery store to be one of the least kid friendly places out there. That is, unless the grocery store accounts for children as part of their business plan. Very few do, but businesses who know best seem to know that if the children are happy, the parents are happy. And if the parents are happy, businesses know that they’ll be frequented again and again–simply because they offered that little extra to parents. At least, that’s the case at Trader Joe’s.


When it comes to a good customer service experience, taking care of the customer is the number one way to make them happy. What many businesses forget is that oftentimes, while the customer base itself is not made up of children, it IS made up of people who HAVE children. Trader Joe’s has not forgotten it–in fact, they’ve embraced it since the 50’s. In addition to offering a variety of free samples (at several dedicated sampling stations) examples of Purple Goldfish for kids have included a stuffed whale (if you find him, your child gets a treat out of a treasure box and then you get to hide the whale yourself for others to find) and miniature carts.


If you’ve never gone grocery shopping with a small child, you can count yourself lucky. They want to sample the food (even the food that isn’t there to be sampled–like fruit) and they want to push the (often huge) grocery cart. Any grocery store that can get ahead of these basic needs parents experience simply by walking through the door is a solid place to do business.


When you take care of the needs of children, you take care of the needs of parents. While this seems like an easy concept, many businesses forget that children are often part of the equation for their customer base. 

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – There are a lot of reasons to love Trader Joe’s–and they don’t all have to do with children. Watch this video to learn more about what makes Trader Joe’s great.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–AJ Bombers

Hall of Fame Class of 2010–AJ Bombers

Customer service doesn’t always have to feel special–sometimes it just has to feel fun. That “little extra” you give customers, which also makes service feel easy and carefree, is sometimes the only thing your most loyal followers want. At least, that’s how AJ Bombers feels. Perhaps that’s why they don’t just offer their customers free food (peanuts) but also deliver it by way of metal WWII Bombers. 


Happiness with a side of burgers. That is the AJ Bombers way. They strive to be a family friendly, fun eatery where no reservations are necessary. Adding to the atmosphere of fun is that “little extra” they describe as their peanut delivery system.


Everyone loves free food. It’s a fact of life. Whether it’s a free bag of popcorn, a free basket of peanuts, or a free meal free food equals happy customers. As a restaurant, AJ Bombers is well aware of this–and ensures that every customer who enters their doors gets free food delivered in a memorable way.


Great customer service doesn’t always entail grand gestures or expensive take homes. Sometimes, great customer service is done simply, ensuring it can be done for everyone over and over again.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Curious as to how those bombers work? Watch this video.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Lexus

Hall of Fame Class of 2010–Lexus

Good customer service shouldn’t feel like a luxury. While it’s great when you find a reputable dealer to buy from, it feels even better when that dealer continues servicing your car needs long after you’ve driven off the lot. Perhaps that’s why Lexus offers concierge service to their buyers, including a courtesy car wash and vacuum, following maintenance services.


Lexus is a company that takes pride in their innovative, thoughtful designs and the relentless performance of their vehicles. What’s more, they were founded on the principal of being dedicated to always offering top-notch customer service. Showing that dedication through actions more than words, Lexus takes pride in their happy customer base all over the world.


Lexus goes beyond standard, striving for the unexpected. Washing and vacuuming our cars takes up time and money–and it’s almost always necessary after our cars leave an auto service shop. Lexus takes the inconvenience of dust, dirt, and oil out of the equation, ensuring their customers are back to doing what they love–faster.


While customer experience shouldn’t feel like a luxury, it often does. Luckily, Lexus wants to ensure that all of their customers, no matter what kind of vehicle they’ve purchased, leaves the Lexus dealership feeling a little bit happier than when they entered.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here are a few more ways Lexus makes customers feel like more than dollar signs. 

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Hall of Fame Class of 2010–Five Guys

Dining out is a treat–and we just love to treat ourselves. However, there have been times that I’ve gone out an ended up rather disappointed that I had to part with good money for a meal. Whether the food I ordered wasn’t up to par or the service left something to be desired, going out to eat can sometimes be a gamble. Yet whenever I think of the times I’ve gone to Five Guys, I always feel a smile on my face. How can I not when every time I go in I’m gifted with bonus fries, unlimited toppings, and free peanuts?


The founder of Five Guys, Jerry Murrell, knew early on that what would impress customers had nothing to do with decor–and everything to do with food. From the beginning, his goal was to serve customers fresh (never frozen) juicy burgers. Between the great food, the freebies, and the smiling service Five Guys went from a single restaurant in Washington D.C. to a franchise scattered across America. 


Founder Jerry Murrell says it best. “We figure our best salesman is our customer. Treat that person right, he’ll walk out the door and sell for you. From the beginning, I wanted people to know that we put all our money into the food.That’s why the décor is so simple — red and white tiles. We don’t spend our money on décor. Or on guys in chicken suits. But we’ll go overboard on food.”


In today’s world, it’s easy to get carried away spending money on your marketing. However, as Five Guys proves, you can keep your mission and marketing budget simple but still experience huge success.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Love Five Guys? Here are ten things that you may not know about them.

Knowledge and Agility are the Foundations of the Blue Goldfish

This was the first blogpost in a nine post series for IBM focused on the intersection of customer experience and technology, data and analytics. This post covers the concept of the Blue Goldfish and the 3R’s.

Customer experience is the new battleground for competitive advantage. But with every company focusing on customer experience, how do you stand out?
Former GE CEO Jack Welch speaks to this challenge, “There are only two sources of competitive advantage: the ability to learn more about our customers faster than the competition and the ability to turn that learning into action faster than the competition.”
Competitive advantage must then come from knowledge and agility. That is: what you know about your customers and then how quickly you can put that into action. This is where technology and data come into play with customer experience analytics.

Rising Customer Expectations
Today’s customers expect faster response times, a shorter wait, and lower cost all at once. A recent IBM Institute for Business Value report brings these expectations into sharp focus: 76% of consumers expect organizations to understand their individual needs, 81% of consumers demand improved response time, and 68% anticipate organizations will harmonize consumer experiences.
There’s no doubt that consumer expectations have changed. Each innovation is now faster and more accessible than the last. The same expectations apply to your business. You need to stand out in a sea of sameness.

The Blue Goldfish
The book, Blue Goldfish, co-authored with Evan Carroll, highlights dozens of companies using technology, data and analytics to improve customer experience. It’s the little things that make a big difference.

Why Blue?
King Harald Gormsson inspired the color blue. King Gormsson ruled Denmark in the 10th century. The medieval king was notorious for uniting Scandinavia and converting the Danes to Christianity. Legend has it that King Gormsson sported a dead tooth that turned blue over time, earning him the nickname, Bluetooth. Fast-forward over ten centuries to 1996. A consortium of companies including IBM, Intel, Ericsson and Nokia came together to create a new short-range wireless standard. In honor of King Harald and uniting together, they called it Bluetooth. Blue is symbolic of convergence. Our convergence is that analytics can allow big data and little data to come together to deliver high-level trends and personalized insights.

Why the Goldfish?
The origin of the goldfish dates back to 2009 and has now become a signature part of the Goldfish book series. First, a goldfish represents something small. The inspiration for the goldfish came from Kimpton Hotels. Introduced at Hotel Monaco in 2001, the boutique hotel chain offers lonely travelers the ability to adopt a temporary travel companion for their stay—a goldfish. It quickly became a signature element of the Kimpton experience – a little thing contributing to the overall customer experience.

Blue Goldfish looked at over 300 case studies. In writing the book, we assessed the patterns and discovered eight ways to leverage technology, data and analytics to improve the customer experience. The eight types of blue goldfish can be segmented into the 3 R’s:

1. Personalization
2. Personal Data/Behavior Change
3. Customer Service 3.0
4. Waiting
5. Real-time Response
6. Frictionless Commerce,
7. Location-Aware Convenience
8. Trust/Safety

Takeaway: The best companies take advantage of all three R’s. They understand the little things that enhance relationships, responsiveness and readiness. Creating blue goldfish that drive both profits and prophets.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here’s a slideshare on the Blue Goldfish:

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–TD Bank

Hall of Fame Class of 2010–TD Bank

A lot of companies like to lay the claim of being customer-centric, though not many live up to the hype. After all, when it comes to what I teach with Purple Goldfish it’s those little actions that speak far louder than words ever could. TD Bank not only has longer hours than other banks they’re also open seven days a week. In addition, they’ve pulled together a number of ways to communicate that they care about their customers including automated thanking machines and throwback Thursdays.


TD Bank’s “About Us” page is incredibly telling. The very first line reads, “If something matters to humans, it matters to us.” TD Bank calls this “Banking Human” and they’ve done business that way from the very beginning. To TD Bank, their customers aren’t just money in an account–they’re people. And while TD Bank is constantly searching for new ways to say, “thanks for banking with us” their actions of staying open late and on weekends, lending a hand in local communities, and taking care of their employees speak volumes.


TD Bank shares that they understand the weekend (and even after work) is when their customers tend to get things done. They recognize that one of those things is usually banking and for that reason, they keep their doors open late and on weekends. It’s just one way they’re Banking Human.


In today’s technology driven world, it can be easy for companies to rely on the convenience of technology to help customers. TD Bank uses technology to enhance the experience of their customers, but they’re committed to not letting technology take the place of humans.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – TD Bank prides themselves on being there for people through some of life’s biggest moments. To say thank you to their customers, they turned a trip to the bank into a true customer journey.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Southwest Airlines

Hall of Fame Class of 2010–Southwest Airlines

I fly a lot for business. It seems that whenever I talk to people about air travel these days, however, there’s always a gripe. Poor customer service, rising costs, and increased delays seem to be a black cloud hanging over the majority of the airline industry. That being said, I personally look forward to my flight experiences. Southwest Airlines, with their happy staffers, bags fly free policy, and no change fees policy, are a beacon of light in the darkness.


Perhaps you’ve noticed the huge heart that Southwest Airlines uses in their branding. True advocacy comes when you reach the heart of your customer–and Southwest Airlines knows this. In an industry that seems solely focused on their bottom line, Southwest Airlines continues to value their employees who in turn value their customers. Their customers value service and that is what this airline is all about.


In 2016, airlines made a reported $3.35 billion in baggage fees alone. Given that that stems from roughly $25 per bag, you can only imagine what a $200 charge fee is capable of making for an airline. Southwest Airlines is committed to putting that extra money in the pockets of their customers–and they know that such service gets them customers for life.


When it comes to serving your customers, it’s important to look past your bottom line. This doesn’t mean that you have to go broke trying to please customers, but it IS important to realize there’s a big difference between being in business because you love it and being in business to make money.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Southwest Airlines helps to make a couple’s special day even more unforgettable.

How to Turn Around a Bad Customer Experience

You’ve really stepped in it, haven’t you? Forget the phrase “the customer is always right,” because this time there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that the customer WAS right…and you’ve made said customer angry. Very angry. Stop! Take a deep breath. Did you know that your brand can actually use a failure as an opportunity to build a better relationship with your customer?

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Stew Leonard’s

Hall of Fame Class of 2010–Stew Leonard’s


The power of giving and a little word of mouth can go a long way.  It can be an easy fact to forget once you become wrapped up in budgets and bottom lines–assuming you ever knew it at all. Stew Leonard certainly didn’t realize this back in the year 1969 when he was asked to go to the local elementary school’s career day and talk about his dairy store. In his first session he had only three students sitting in–two of which he knew. At the end of his talk, Stew reached into his pocket and dug out three coupons for free ice cream and handed them out to the kids. That little act–that one tiny freebie–required Stew’s next session to be held in the school’s auditorium!



Stew Leonard opened a dairy store in Connecticut back in 1969. He’d grown up the son of a dairy farmer and his father delivered fresh milk daily by truck. However, in the 1960’s things were changing for the dairy business and Stew knew he needed to change with it or go out of business forever. That’s when he envisioned a retail dairy store where kids could watch milk be bottled while mothers did their shopping. In the words of Stew himself, “Where kids go, customers follow.”


Make no mistake–Stew Leonard didn’t hand out coupons for free ice cream with the intent of selling out his next speaker session at the elementary school. Nonetheless that is where he found himself. Ultimately that tiny giveaway spoke to the core values that Stew had held all along: “Create happy customers… by selling the freshest products at the best prices in a friendly, fun atmosphere.


Even the smallest investments can be seen as a big draw for customers. One of Stew’s most popular Purple Goldfish proved to be a free ice cream with the purchase of $100 or more in groceries. It was that little extra that kept families coming back to his dairy store for years after he first opened his doors.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here is a tour of a Stewart Leonard’s for those who have never had the opportunity to visit one.