Archive | February, 2013

How a Brownie Improved My Customer Experience

26 Feb


The aroma hit me as soon as I opened the door….the unmistakable smell of freshly baked brownies.   As I stood in line to place my lunch order, I noticed the basket of brownies next to the cash register. 

As I waited to order, the battle between my head (you don’t need a brownie for lunch) and my stomach (you can’t resist a brownie for lunch) was raging.  After changing my mind several times, my head finally convinced me that I didn’t need a brownie….or so I thought.

I placed my order while doing my best not to make eye contact with the basket of fresh brownies.  However, after I placed my order, the owner said:

“Please take a FREE brownie.  I’m training a new team member how to cut heart-shaped brownies.   The shape of these brownies is not quite up to our quality standards, but they are delicious none-the-less.  I hope you enjoy, and thank you for your business.”

My head didn’t stand a chance of convincing me not to take the free brownie.  I not only accepted the free brownie (and finished it in about 7 seconds), but also told my friends about the free brownies and the awesome customer experience. 

Can you think of a way to surprise your customers? Be different.  Be genuine. Be unique.  I guarantee it will pay off.

Good luck!

How I Survived My First Bikram Yoga Class…..and Learned a Few Business Lessons in the Process

19 Feb

funny yoga


I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to take a break with 15 minutes remaining in my first Bikram Yoga class. As I started to feel dizzy and nauseated, I decided to take a knee. Man down. The 105 degree heat finally beat me down.

However, I was perfectly comfortable taking a knee in a room full of complete strangers. You see, prior to starting my first class, the owner of the studio completed her new customer process with me–a process she automatically completes with every new customer.  Her new customer process included:

1) Greeted me and welcomed me to the studio–gave me a 5 to 10 minute tour of her yoga studio

2) Required me to complete a form, providing all of my contact information for her database (hopefully she uses it for future direct mail and email follow up)

3) Told me what to expect in the room; she explained that many people feel dizzy and nauseated when first starting Bikram Yoga (not something I was excited to hear). I was told to take a knee if this happened (and it did).

4) Introduced me to the class; told the class this was my first ever Bikram Yoga experience, and that she would be watching me closely

Before I even broke into the first move of the day, I already felt comfortable in a room full of strangers. I had an idea of what to expect.

At the conclusion of the class, she asked me how I was feeling and provided me with a free bottle of water. She discussed the different pricing structures for her studio, trying to sell me a 10-visit package for $130.00. While I wasn’t ready to purchase a package from her, I have a tremendous amount of respect for her as an entrepreneur.  She values new customers and even has systems to make them feel comfortable and cross-sell her products and services.

Do you have SYSTEMS (processes) to maximize the customer experience for your new customers? At a minimum, you should gather contact information for follow up purposes; you spend too much money on overhead to simply let fate dictate whether a new customer becomes a repeat customer.

Good luck!


One Question That Will Increase Customer Spending

14 Feb


After having too much fun the night before, I decided to walk a few blocks to get breakfast. I placed my to-go order: bacon, egg, and cheese on sourdough bread. I wanted to eat at home so I could make my own coffee and watch college basketball. After I placed my order, the nice lady behind the counter asked, “Would you like to add an orange juice to your order? It’s freshly squeezed.” 

Sold. How could I say no to freshly squeezed orange juice? The large orange juice added an additional $2.50 to my transaction. The simple question increased the transaction size for the restaurant. This strategy is also employed by McDonald’s: “Would you like fries with that?”

One simple question. I wasn’t the only customer to add the freshly squeezed orange juice; the customer behind me upgraded his order when the same question was asked. I wonder how many of their customers decided to add an orange juice? That’s $$$ in the bank!

Do you have a product or service you can cross-sell to your current customers? Train your staff to cross-sell and up-sell; make it a required part of the sales/transaction process,  and watch your sales magically soar!

Good luck!

An Easy Way to Increase Sales and Develop Customer Loyalty

13 Feb

My dad received Homeland, Season 1 for Christmas. Because he struggles with all technology invented after the typewriter, I helped him load his DVD player. Upon opening his new DVD, I noticed an excellent cross-sell marketing piece included in the packaging.



Showtime wasn’t satisfied with selling only the DVD, it wanted to parlay the purchase into a subscription to Showtime. An extremely effective marketing technique; after you watch Homeland, Season 1, you’re going to want to watch Seasons 2 & 3, so you better subscribe to Showtime.

The marketing insert is effective for four reasons:

1) Its delivered directly to its target a audience

2) It includes an offer ($25.00 cash back)

3) A deadline (redeem by Feb. 1, 2014)

4) Showtime didn’t waste an opportunity to market an additional product. It already had to create the DVD package for Season 1, so why not include marketing material for another product with the package?  I’m certain the lightweight, tiny insert didn’t increase postage expenses. Showtime paid a nominal fee to have the piece produced and distributed with its Season 1 DVD. I’d be willing to bet they saw a great ROI (return on investment) from this marketing campaign.

Do you have a marketing strategy to cross-sell your products and services? Any business, particularly small businesses, should maximize marketing budgets by developing inexpensive cross-sell programs.

Good luck!

How One Coffee Shop Lost My Customer Loyalty

12 Feb


I decided to give it one more chance. The coffee shop is less than a block from my apartment and the coffee is pretty damn good. I want to frequent the place and support a local business; however, every morning I’m greeted by an employee who acts like I just ordered a hit on a puppy instead of ordering a large coffee. 

I tried to mix up my routine; maybe I had a scowl on my face and didn’t realize it. One morning I walked in with the biggest smile and greeted him. All I got was a scowl. I tried to tip the guy $1.50 after he gave me my $2.50 coffee. All I got was silence. I’m done.

As I looked around the place, I noticed it wasn’t as busy as other coffee shops. Maybe I’m not alone in wanting at least a half-hearted greeting at a place I buy from almost every day. Now, I take my $17.50/week ($2.50 X 7), my $70.00/month ($17.50 X 4 weeks), and my $840.00/year ($70.00/month X 12) to the coffee shop that takes me an additional 20 minutes to walk to.  *Maybe I don’t spend that much, but you get the idea.*

At my new coffee shop I’m greeted by employees who are happy to see me. The owner thanks me for my business and asks if there’s anything else she can do to make my stay more comfortable. You see, as a small business owner she realizes that it’s ultimately up to her to make sure her staff is not only trained properly but also is executing the training to make sure customers are enjoying the experience.

If you own a business, or you’re thinking about starting a business, it would be wise to “mystery shop” your business. Ask 5-10 friends/customers to place an order and have them rate the experience. Because at the end of the day: it’s not your employees fault if their attitudes cause you to lose customers, it’s your fault for not having a system to identify the problem employees.

Good Luck!

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