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Seems like more and more companies are entering the WOW! service game. Initiated first by internet retailer and customer service extraordinaire Zappos, and most recently adopted by TD Bank. A bank providing WOW service? Not an industry most customers associate with outstanding service.
TD Bank has gone so far in promoting their WOW! service, they created a feature on their site called the “WOW! Zone” where parents can teach their children important information on money.
So why enter the WOW! game? I think its simple… provide a great experience for a customer, more importantly an experience that exceeds their expectation, and they are bound to spread the word about your brand. Ask any marketer what the strongest form of marketing is and undoubtedly they’ll say WOM (Word-of-Mouth).
So instead of spending thousands of dollars on that next 30 second TV spot or a two page ad in a national publication, maybe businesses should think more about investing that money in additional customer service training. What drives you to try out a new brand most? Is it word of mouth or is it other forms of marketing? And what are you more likely to share with your friends… An outstanding shopping experience or a tv ad?
Last week in the STELLAService offices there was discussion around the differences between brick-and-mortar retail stores and their online counterparts. The conversation mostly focused on how retailers can ensure that their online service experience is commensurate with the experience they provide in-store (and vice versa). The conversation began because someone had mentioned Coach’s fantastic in-store customer service. One of Coach’s nicer in-store touches is that after your purchase has been made, the associate that helped you walks around from behind the register to hand you your purchase. Previous to this, we doubt that anyone didn’t buy something at a Coach store because nobody came from behind the counter to hand them their purchase. That said, we can guarantee that the simple gesture of handing a customer whatever they bought goes a long way towards ensuring that they feel appreciated and that they’ll remember that experience in the future. These types of gestures require ingenuity, ingenuity driven by insight. The insight comes from retailers taking the initiative to look at their service from the ground level (whether it be online or in-store). Without the valuable insight to see what their service looks like first-hand — and how it can be improved, the executives responsible for making changes couldn’t have possibly incorporated such a simple, yet meaningful detail.
At STELLAService, we often use our insight to find many examples of companies willing to ‘come from behind the counter’ to provide excellent service. As online retailers continue to place more emphasis onto their service, we expect there to be many more small, yet highly meaningful moments of great service. While we’re always impressed by them, we also love to hear stories from shoppers who have had their own ‘handbag hand-off’ moment with a retailer. Of course we’ll continue to post our own thoughts, but we’d love to get yours as well. With that in mind, feel free to use the comments section to share any small gestures from retailers that you’ve been on the receiving end of that have made you feel not only warm and fuzzy, but also deeply appreciated.
When it comes to the understanding how important it is for a business to make its customers feel good, some people just get it. Or – well – they more than get it, they understand that it means everything. It can make a business, break a business, and most importantly differentiate a business.
Stan Phelps is one of those people who “gets it.” While the video on his website is four minutes long, it took less than thirty seconds before I was intrigued. Stan is a marketer and author of the upcoming book, “Marketing Lagniappe: In Search of Your Purple Goldfish.” I’m excited to read it.
“Lagniappe?” you might ask, “And purple goldfish?” They’re carefully chosen words.
Phelps explains lagniappe (pronounced lăn-yăp) both by definition, “a small gift at the time of purchase, or an extra or unexpected gift or benefit” and also through a quote by Mark Twain: “It’s the equivalent to the 13th roll in a baker’s dozen, something thrown in for good measure”.
What Phelps really understands and what he wants to share with the world is the importance of lagniappe. He feels lagniappe is “sorely missing in today’s business environment” and challenges businesses to find their purple goldfish. He mentions Seth Godin’s book “Purple Cow” in explaining that purple represents differentiation, to “stand out and be remarkable to your customers.”
The goldfish represents a business or product, with its growth being affected by four things: the size of the habitat (the market), the number of others in that habitat (competition), the quality of the fishbowl’s water (the economy), and the goldfish’s genetic composition including what makes the goldfish unique (differentiation). Just like a goldfish in a fishbowl, a business might not have control over the first three things, but “the one thing [they] have total control of is how to differentiate itself.”
Have you seen any purple goldfish lately? In other words, have you done business with a company that has “wowed” you? Then share your story!
To promote his upcoming book, Phelps is looking for examples of marketing lagniappe. For each example you pass along, Phelps will donate a non-perishable item to his local charity. If your story gets published in his book, you’ll receive a signed copy when it comes out!
Email your customer stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit marketinglagniappe.com.