Top 10 List #8 (351-400)

by Stan Phelps

in purple goldfish project

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The 8th Top 10 List from #351-#400

We’ve ventured into Ted Williams territory (last man to bat .400) in the Purple Goldfish Project on our way to 1,001.  The Purple Goldfish Movement continues to gain momentum.

It was hard to choose the 10, but here are the ones that were left standing:

10. Zappos (#397. Submitted by Joe Gascoigne) “As for an example, one that springs to mind is that if you try to order shoes from Zappos and they do not have the shoes you want in stock, they will actually recommend a nearby store that does. It seems counter-intuitive, but I think it really builds trust and it obviously works well for them.”

9. Great Harvest Bakery (#383 from Nicolas Nelson) “The Great Harvest Bakery is a relatively small franchise chain of wonderful American-style bakeries that is growing slowly on purpose–they want to make extra sure that every new Great Harvest Bakery is top notch and fully reflects the ethos of the original one. Lagniappe is what Great Harvest Bakery is all about– it comes across in a dozen ways. But the first one any visitor will notice immediately is the free bread tasting every time you come in the door. Yep, everyone who even stops by gets a free slice of their choice of the day’s fresh-baked bread. A generous free slice. Whether or not you buy something. Whether or not you even stay in the bakery after you take their bread. Whether or not you say thank you. Free bread, every visit!  Of course, there’s a catch: the bread is unbelievably good. That free slice of bread will convince you to buy a whole loaf. We do, almost every week. The panini sandwiches are pretty amazing too, by the way (but not free).”

#8. Bigelow Tea (#378 from my co-pilot Social Jack Campisi)  “I found a Purple Goldfish in a box of tea today. I opened a new box of Bigelow Vaniila Chai Tea and I was surprised to see a different colored label on the tea bag I pulled out. I wondered if I had bought the wrong flavor, but it turns out it was a bonus bag of their “Constant Comment” orange spiced chai tea.  It was a nice surprise and a great chance for me to sample another variety of their tea without having to buy an entire box of a flavor I may or may not like. And the good news is that I liked it.  This is a great example of lagniappe because it surprised and delighted me and it was very relevant. If they had not done that, I probably never would have tried that kind of tea… but now I just might go get a box. So mission accomplished Bigelow; you made a customer happy, turned me on to another one of your products and you are generating word of mouth buzz. That’s a Purple Goldfish.”

7.  Timbuk2 (#392 submitted by Gina Miezkowski) “Because I believe in the power of all things Social Media, I had expressed on Twitter my unhappiness over my Timbuk2 bag’s strap “squeeking” . To my surprise (relief) I received a message from @Timbuk2 advising me to call the CS department and that I would be taken care off. The CS team sent me out a new strap for my bag, no questions asked.  Timbuk2 presents themselves as a company that would behave in exactly such a way, and they “walk the walk”. You’re not just buying a bag, you’re buying an EXPERIENCE. They want to make sure you are happy, they GET IT. They go out of their way to make owning their product a positive experience, from the time of purchase (if you order a custom bag they include a polaroid of your bag being “born” with people outfitted in surgical scrubs) to everyday usage as my experience proves.”

6. BWI Airport Fast Park (#377 from Simple Complexity) “The Airport Fast Park at the Baltimore Washington International Airport is a little different than other “park-n-ride” airport shuttles. When you enter their lot, an attendant greets you and shows you the best row to park your car so you don’t have to search for an open space. The shuttle meets you at your parked car so there’s no waiting at a shelter. Then the bus driver helps you with your luggage, and if it’s raining meets you with an umbrella. While on the bus, the friendly driver actually talks to you, and on your way back the shuttle takes you directly to your car, with a complimentary bottle of water. Who knew bus rides could be enjoyable?”

5.  Rita’s Water Ice (#384 submitted by Keith Green of Synergy Events)  “Rita’s Water Ice runs a great promotion every spring that is a great example of Lagniappe. On the first day of spring, everyone receives a free Water Ice of their choice. There’s no catch and no purchase necessary, you simply walk in and order what you want.”

4. Fiskars (#353 from Geno Church of Brains on Fire) “Each new member of the Fiskars Community “Fiskateer” receives a limited edition pair of scissors. On the scissor is engraved their unique membership #. The scissors are also accompanied by a handwritten note welcoming them into the community.”

3.  Skooba Design (#389 from an article in BNET) “All of my employees have a free rein when it comes to helping customers. If they want to give an unhappy customer something for free-a free upgrade to overnight shipping, a complimentary camera strap-I say, do it. It’s not going to put us out of business. If making a person happy is going to cost more than $100, the employee needs to run it by me. But up to that amount, they can do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.”

2. Arigato Sushi (#355 submitted by Owen Clark) “In Roseville, CA Arigato offers half-priced sushi, all the time. Started as a promotion when the place opened but business was so successful they never got rid of it. Even though I know it’s permanent it still makes you feel like your getting a great value every time you go in. Especially because the menu still has the full-prices and you don’t really see the savings until you get the bill. Also, sushi is good enough that they could be charging a lot more.”

. . . and the #1 on the eighth Top 10 List:

1. ABT Electronics (#391 taken from post entitled, “It’s the Customer Experience, Stupid” from Ryan Deutsch on MediaPost)

“At its core, it is the customer experience that turns a one-time buyer into a loyal customer, subscriber, fan or follower. I feel we lose sight of this fact at times. I had an experience last month that reminded me how true loyalty is created between a brand and a consumer.

For those of you unaware, the federal government in the state of Illinois offered $6.5 million in rebates to consumers who purchased “Energy Saver” appliances between April 15 and April 25. Not being one to pass up money from the government, I rushed to ABT Electronics in Glenview. Our family was in desperate need of a new microwave oven. As I walked into ABT, it became clear that this was no ordinary sale. They had parking attendants directing traffic and the store was an absolute madhouse. I was immediately dejected assuming there was no chance of finding an associate to help me, let alone make a purchase. I found the microwave section and stood there looking lost for no more than 90 seconds before a young woman approached and asked if she could help.

“Yes, which microwaves qualify for the energy saver government rebate?”

She looked at me and admitted she had no idea and ran (yes, literally ran) down the aisle towards a manager and started speaking. After about 15 seconds, she ran (yes, literally ran) back to me and explained that microwaves were not part of the up government rebate program. While I appreciated her enthusiasm, I was less than happy. But I still needed a microwave, so I asked what she knew about combination microwave/convection ovens. Again she knew little but promised to find someone who did and off she went.

Less than two minutes had passed when a gentleman in a General Electric golf shirt walked up to me and said: “I hear you need help with microwaves.”

Now this was impressive. The store was mobbed, and in less than 90 seconds, I had an actual GE employee answering questions about GE appliances. A real subject matter expert on hand to help me! ABT had their vendors bring in experts to help customers understand the benefits of various appliances for the sales event. In less than two minutes, this gentleman helped me decide on a microwave oven, and I had forgotten all about the lack of the government rebate. The GE employee handed me off to a man in an ABT vest: “Follow me,” he said and off we went towards a line that must have included 700 people. My eyes rolled back in my head and I said, “Listen maybe this wasn’t the best day to come in…”

He cut me off, saying, “Don’t worry, we will be done in less than five minutes.”

Sure enough, this guy found a computer terminal and had me checked out in no time. I was in and out of the store on the busiest day of its existence in less than 30 minutes, feeling great about the product I purchased, even without the government discount.

Halfway to the exit my wife called. “Ryan, can you do me a favor and buy that replacement filter for our refrigerator?” she asked.

“Aargh,” was my response. I explained, “Rachel this place is crazy! There’s no way I’m going to be able to find a replacement filter.” I could feel my wife rolling her eyes — she’s been trying to get me to order this filter for more than two months.

“OK,” I finally said. At that moment a different gentleman in an ABT vest walked past. “Excuse me, sir,” I said. “Do you guys sell replacement filters for your refrigerators?” We both looked toward the refrigerator section, which was a zoo. The refrigerators were actually included in the government rebate program. “You know what,” I said. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll come back another time.”

“No, no that’s silly,” the gentleman said. “I’ll take care of you.” And off we went in search of a computer terminal. The gentleman started flipping his fingers across the keyboard and asked me a few questions.

He then said, “I apologize if this takes a few minutes to process your order, I am the CFO, so bear with me.” My jaw hit the floor.

Here I am at ABT on the biggest day of the year and the CFO is helping me make a $44 purchase. Not only did he treat me as if I were the most important person in the store, this guy, the CFO, was capable of entering an order into a computer terminal on the store floor and selling somebody something. I was absolutely blown away and walked out of there completely committed to buying every future electronic appliance from ABT.

In addition to my loyalty, thanks to the wonder of the social web, I took the time to write this blog talking about my experience at their store. Once finished with it, I will post it to my Twitter account, my LinkedIn page and hopefully one or two of the blogs I contribute to on a regular basis, sharing the story with thousands more readers. The blogs will deliver the story via email to an even broader audience. I am already a subscriber to ABT’s email communications, and I will continue to anticipate and appreciate those communications.

The point here is that customer loyalty does not start on a Facebook page or in a Twitter feed. It is not developed solely through relevant email communications and the appropriate cadence of messages.

Engagement between a brand and a consumer in any channel (email or social media) starts with the customer’s experience with that brand. If the customer experience is average, your consumer is unlikely to be a repeat buyer, they are less likely to click and open your communications, and they are never going to spend their social capital recruiting their friends to be your customers.

If the customer experience is below-average, you will likely have a consumer who unsubscribes from email programs and tells her friends about the negative experience, placing downward pressure on new customer acquisition and business growth. This is why the same email and social programs executed in two different organizations can have completely different results.

The brand with a commitment to customer service and exceptional customer experiences will find that email and social media marketing provides phenomenal results around engagement, extended reach and the acquisition of new customers. Those companies not committed to excellent customer service and experience will have the exact opposite contribution from email and social media, regardless of their investment in the respective channels.”

Click here for the first Top 10 list from the first 50 examples of marketing lagniappe.

Click here for the second Top 10 list from #51 to #100 in the Purple Goldfish Project.

Click here for the third Top 10 list from #101 to #150 in the Purple Goldfish Project.

Click here for the fourth Top 10 list from #151 to #200 in the Purple Goldfish Project.

Click here for the fifth Top 10 list from #201 to #250 in the Purple Goldfish Project.

Click here for the sixth Top 10 list from #251 to #300 in the Purple Goldfish Project.

Click here for the seventh Top 10 list from #301 to #350 in the Purple Goldfish Project.

Click here for the entire list from The Purple Goldfish Project.

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