Archive | Home RSS feed for this section

A $5.00 Gift Card & An Apology – Is This a Memorable Customer Experience?

26 Nov

I arrived at the bus stop at 7:20 a.m. – just like I do almost every weekday morning. It’s not a public bus stop. I pay a fixed amount every month to ride a private shuttle from San Francisco to Palo Alto. The shuttle normally arrives between 7:25 a.m. and 7:35 a.m. – but not on this particular morning. As the clock on my phone hit 8:15 a.m., I wondered whether I needed to find an alternative mode of transportation to work.

The shuttle finally arrived at 8:30 a.m. – a full hour later than its scheduled arrival.

Customer Experience Journey 

The private shuttle service is responsible for getting its clients to their destinations on time. This is of paramount importance. It’s the entire premise around its value proposition: Our shuttle service is reliable and it’s better than driving your car or taking other modes of transportation. An hour late arrival is a big deal. One it cannot afford to repeat without losing regular clients (like me).

I understand the unexpected arises from time-to-time, no matter the business. However, it’s how a company responds during the inconvenience.

The Apology

A few days after the mishap, I received the following letter and gift card in the mail:

Ridepal

I truly appreciate the company going out of its way to not only apologize but also include a $5.00 Starbucks gift card. There are many companies that would have simply continued with business as usual – not taking the time to offer a simple apology. While the letter and gift card were appreciated, I wondered whether the company should have done more to apologize?

Is An Apology & $5.00 Gift Card Sufficient?

What’s the lifetime value of a client worth to the company? Let’s say I plan to commute to Palo Alto for the next 12 months. And let’s say the monthly expense for the shuttle is $200.00. My lifetime value to the company is $2400. There are other factors when calculating the LTV, but for simplicity let’s use the above numbers.  If I decide the service is not reliable, I will definitely find an alternative mode of transportation. If I decide to find an alternative mode of transportation during the 3rd month out of 12 months, the company loses $1800 (9 months X $200). That’s a significant amount of lost revenue.

Here are my thoughts bout the Customer Experience 

– Its clients’ time is worth more than a $5.00 gift card. What would happen if the company gave each rider a $25.00 gift card for his or her troubles? Most people understand delays happen, especially in the transportation industry. The company could separate itself from other modes of transportation by increasing its customer experience and recovery efforts.

– Perhaps an apology and $5.00 gift card will suffice if the problem is truly resolved and it does not happen in the future.

– Should the company ask for gift card preferences when onboarding new clients? A checkbox with: Amazon, Itunes, Peets Coffee, Starbucks, or Other gift card options – so that if/when a problem occurs, it can customized its solution. What if I don’t drink coffee? Or it could simply reward its best riders with a gift card every quarter.

– Lastly, it should leverage its database and segment its clients. I ride almost every weekday, while others ride once a week. We all got the same apology and gift card. We are not all worth the same to the company.

I commend the company for taking the time to write an apology and send me a gift card. It’s already way ahead of most other transportation companies in-regards to how it treats clients. I don’t want to criticize the effort. However, it has an opportunity to be even better. To truly separate itself from competitors, it should use data to identify its most profitable clients, and nurture them throughout the year. It has an opportunity to make the customer experience the DNA of its company. 

What do you think? Is an apology and $5.00 gift card sufficient this time, or should the company do more? Should it plan its recovery for the next unexpected delay? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Advertisements

An Important Survival Lesson During My First Week in Shanghai

8 Mar

shanghai-traffic-marketing

The taxi driver held the horn for 10 seconds and loudly yelled at me in Chinese.  I had no idea what he said, but assumed he was having a bad day.  As I turned my head away from the crazy taxi driver, I almost got hit by a motorbike on my right side.

TWICE, in less than 7 seconds, I came closer to being run over by a vehicle than I had in my previous 34 years on earth. Welcome to Shanghai.  Where I quickly learned that the green signal for pedestrians to cross the street, simply means you have permission to risk your life.  No joke: crossing the street in Shanghai is a real life game of Frogger.

In the United States, I/we often dare vehicles to hit us. We assume vehicles will stop if we are in the crosswalk. Here’s a tip: don’t do that in Shanghai. In Shanghai, your head should be on a swivel. You will need to dodge bicyclists carrying 50+ pounds of produce, buses, cars, motorcycles, motorbikes, and your fellow pedestrians attempting to cross the street.

shanghai-traffic-marketing

The first two weeks in Shanghai have been an eye opening experience for me. I am located in the Yangpu District of Shanghai.  Judging by the looks on the locals faces when they see me, there are not many westerners in this part of Yangpu.  There’s the five year old child who stopped in his tracks when he saw me, his eyes popped out of his head.  He’s not alone. There’s the elderly lady who stopped talking, pointed and starred at me, craning her neck as I walked past her and her group of friends.  The two teenagers who laughed at me as I attempted to order food from their street food stand.

There is very little English – spoken or written – (why should there be? I’m in China) so communication, which I took for granted in the US, is a challenge.  But I’ve adapted, and I’m thankful that the ability to adapt is a strength I posses.  Things won’t always be easy.  This trip has reaffirmed, for me, the importance of being able to adapt – both in business and in life.

I’m really good at Charades – I successfully acted out that I need to find a place to do my laundry.  I successfully ordered eggs after I pretended to crack an egg.

Also, a smile is universal.  People are willing to help when they are greeted by a smile. 

The business lessons have been plentiful as well.  Hopefully, I will improve at crossing the street so I can write about my business insights.

Shanghai is electric. I highly recommend a visit if you ever get a chance – just be sure to look both ways, multiple times, when you cross the street. 

Marketing and Wine Attract Leads But Procedures and Workflows Convert Leads to Clients

7 Oct

Wine Marketing

“I’m sorry; our event coordinator is not on location today.  Would you like to leave a phone number and I will have her call you?” said the bartender at local winery.  I looked straight ahead, hoping I would just disappear, I knew the potential customer (lead) would not be pleased with the response from the bartender.  All I wanted to do is enjoy my glass of wine.  I didn’t want to hear an argument.

“So you are telling me I drove all the way out here for nothing?” She was not happy.  Dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase, the woman explained that she drove 30 minutes to meet with someone face-to-face at the winery.  She wanted information about how much it would cost to rent the venue for a private party of 50+ people.

The winery is located about 20 miles outside of Charlottesville, VA.  It’s not a convenient location to simply come back at another time.  Do you really want to rely on/tell a lead to come back at another time? No.  Should the lead have called to see whether an event planner was available? Maybe.  However, when a lead walks in your place of business during normal business hours, there should be a procedure that ensures an outstanding experience for the lead, so he or she becomes a paying client.

The winery spends a lot of marketing dollars and resources on attracting highly-qualified leads.

Marketing

The winery should create a procedure for event inquires – something like this:

A potential customer asks the bartender/staff member for information about private events

  1. Is the event coordinator available?

i.      Yes – Politely introduce the event coordinator and the lead

ii.      No – Explain that the event coordinator is currently not available at the moment

  1. The event coordinator, along with the management, should create an information packet that’s distributed when the coordinator is not available.  The packet should contain frequently asked questions as well as how to contact the event coordinator (email, phone, LinkedIn, etc.)
  2. Offer the lead a glass of wine (on the house) and ask if he or she would like to review the packet at the bar – staff member, who has been cross-trained, can either collect information from the lead to give to the coordinator or answer questions about events at the winery. The staff member should have access to the event coordinators calendar, to schedule a meeting

While it’s great to spend resources and time creating marketing campaigns that attract leads, it’s equally important to have procedures and workflows in-place to deliver a WOW experience that converts those leads to clients.  Don’t leave this to chance.

It should be fairly easy to predict how a lead interacts with your company:

–          Your website

–          Email

–          Phone

–          Your social media channels

–          Your digital ads

–          Your parking lot/front door/showroom

–          Your print ads

You should have procedures, workflows, and cross-training for your staff to ensure those leads are nurtured so they go from leads to clients.

Good luck!

%d bloggers like this: