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Batkid, Low Blood Sugar, and a Positive, Negative Customer Experience

18 Nov

I was close to literally (not really; well, maybe) biting someone’s head off. Whenever I find myself annoyed by innocent questions or by a stranger inadvertently brushing my shoulder as we pass each other on a crowded sidewalk, it’s probably the result of my low blood sugar.  It means I’ve waited three hours too long between meals and I need to get food ASAP.

San Francisco Helps Miles' Wish To Be A Superhero Come True!

Today, downtown San Francisco was busier than normal at lunch.  After reports of an armed robbery and the kidnapping of the San Francisco Giants’ mascot, police swarmed the streets.  Luckily a young superhero, Miles Scott, AKA Batkid, saved the day!  I could have used his help to fight my hunger pains, but he was plenty busy saving the city.  Excellent job, Miles!

Because several people arrived downtown to witness Batkid work his magic, there were long lines at most reputable lunch spots.  Long wait lines and Kurt’s low blood sugar are not a good combination.

Luckily, Brianna and I noticed a restaurant across the street with a short line.  It’s called ‘The Melt’, and as its slogan says, it’s grilled cheese happiness.  Ironically, I first heard about The Melt when I received a free orange ‘The Melt Rally Towel’ (pictured below) at a San Francisco Giants game last year (I’m guessing the goal of the rally towel marketing campaign was to raise awareness and get people to try it….the marketing worked…at least on us).

The Melt's Rally Towel

The Melt’s Rally Towel

Brianna ordered the Thanksgiving special grilled cheese and corn chowder soup.  I ordered a turkey grilled cheese and tomato basil soup. We patiently waited  for our meal; however, we noticed that people who ordered after us were getting their food before us. As I watched the woman who ordered 10 minutes after us tear into her grilled cheese with a smile on her face, it was time to take action. 

I’m not sure whether I’m jaded when it comes to customer service at quick serve restaurants, because I was ready for a battle.  I was completely prepared to point out every patron  with food that ordered WELL after us. It was the blood sugar; I’m normally a very calm person.

Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

After I calmly explained that we had been waiting for 15 minutes, the team member immediately apologized.  He checked for the order and noticed it was stuck in their system, meaning the order was never received.  Without hesitation, he said the meal would be free.  He moved the order to the front of the line and personally delivered it to our table when it was ready.   Again, he apologized for the mix up and asked if there was anything else he could do.  He turned a negative customer experience into a very positive customer experience for us.  The food was delicious. We plan to visit The Melt again the next time we are in the financial district.

Do your team members have the authority to make decisions to ensure there’s a great customer experience…even when things go wrong?  How do you and your team react when a client has a negative experience?  It’s wise to design and implement a customer experience procedure for turning a negative customer experience into positive customer experience.

Good luck!

roller coaster image source

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!

An Empowered Employee….A Tuxedo…..And Customer Loyalty

24 Sep

Marketing Strategy - tux

Back in April (5 months ago) I got fitted for a tuxedo at Men’s Warehouse.  It’s not my favorite thing to do, but one of my best friends asked me to be in his wedding.  After the initial fitting, the associate gave me a coupon for 50% off the entire store.  The associate explained that it didn’t need to be used today; in fact, the coupon was good for almost 4 months.  

When I went for my final fitting at Men’s Warehouse (5 months later), I also needed to purchase a pair of khaki pants for the rehearsal dinner.  I brought my 50% coupon along with me – I’d much rather pay $35.00 than $70.00.

I noticed the expiration date had past, but I wanted to see whether the associate would still give me the discount.  Doesn’t hurt to ask, right? After the associate scanned my coupon, the register monitor read, “EXPIRED.”  The moment of truth…

The associate didn’t say a word.  I didn’t either.  Actually, he didn’t even look up to see my reaction.  He simply punched in a code to override the expiration date. I got my khakis for 50% off.  Men’s Warehouse got a loyal customer.  I will definitely be back when I need to update my wardrobe.

Are your employees empowered to make decisions that enhance the customer experience?

Good luck!

PS – Yes, I will keep a coupon for four months if it’s worth it – (50% off is worth it)! 

Marketing and Sales System Fails….Results in No Sushi for Engagement Party

18 Sep

marketing strategy breakdown

My mom was in a hurry. She always works better under pressure—don’t we all? She was hosting an engagement party for 60 people; the party was 4 days away.  Today was the day to take care of food for the guests; she decided 150 pieces of sushi would make perfect appetizers – easy to eat and delicious.

Upon entering Harris Teeter grocery store, she made a beeline to the sushi counter, brushing shoulders with anyone in her way – she was on a mission to place an order for 150 pieces of sushi.  She knew the platter likely wouldn’t be ready that day, but thought 4 days’ notice was surely enough time to prepare the sushi.  Unfortunately, her customer experience at Harris Teeter resulted in a lost sale for the grocery store and an unhappy customer. 

When she arrived at the sushi counter, she was greeted by a Harris Teeter team member.  When she asked where to place an order for a sushi platter, the Harris Teeter team member responded that the sushi team members were not available at this time.  The team member said, “You might want to come back in like an hour or two.”   And my mom’s reaction was, “Did they really just tell me to comeback in an hour? Oh. No. They. Didn’t! That one response cost Harris Teeter around $120.00.  Maybe a drop in the bucket to the big grocery store chain, but I’m sure it’s frustrating for management.

Think about how much money it spends on marketing materials and sales associates to sell its products.

Is the team member at fault or is it managements fault for not properly training the team member?  Any team member that wanders close to the catering section should know what to do when the main contact is not available.  The team member should have a short contact form for the customer to complete, and maybe give the customer a $5.00 or $10.00 off coupon (better yet – have the authority to give a small discount) to redeem when placing the order.

Do you have procedures for capturing your incoming leads? Design a customer experience for each customer touchpoint, and be sure to include a contingency plan and cross-train team members so you don’t lose sales. 

Good Luck!

Remember: Create Marketing Campaigns for Your Target Market….Not Your Team!

19 Aug
Patonback

We love our new marketing piece….

I recently had a meeting to discuss marketing strategy with an extremely successful small business owner.  He was concerned about his most recent marketing piece  – it wasn’t generating leads.  The brochure looked extremely professional, complete with stock photographs and technical language that would make any English professor celebrate and break out the Carlton danceIt was slick.

His staff loved it and gave it rave reviews—his entire team thought it was a home run – so why was it a total flop?

The target market was thoroughly confused by the ad copy. The brochure was too professional. Also, his target market is price sensitive. When they looked at the slick design and professional, stock photos, they quickly determined that my client’s company must be way too expensive.

You need to speak the same language as your target. They likely won’t stop to look up that fancy lingo that’s only used only by the people in your profession. 

The lesson I took away: Don’t rely solely on your team for feedback.  Ask a few people, preferably your target market, what they think of the piece before you spend more money.  Do they understand the marketing piece?

Remember: You’re not trying to sell your products and services to your team; you’re selling to your target market. 

Good luck!

100 Bottles of Beer on the…..Does Your Marketing Strategy Include Shareable Experiences?

12 Aug

You’ve seen it. You’ve probably done it.  I’m guilty.  You are at an amazing restaurant, or maybe you’re on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.  You stop to take a photo either in front of a famous landmark or in front of something your friends and/or Facebook stalkers will think is cool.

You upload it to Facebook and check-in at the location.  You get lots of ‘likes’ and a few witty comments from your friends.  The business gets lots of free marketing exposure.

Do you have a shareable experience? If creating shareable experiences isn’t part of your marketing strategy, it’s time to QUICKLY rethink your strategy.  You don’t have to own a famous landmark; you can create something unique that people will want to share with others.  Here’s an example from a local brewery that opened a few weeks ago:

100 bottles of beer on the wall! Are shareable experiences part of your marketing strategy?

Are shareable experiences part of your marketing strategy?

I counted three different people taking their photos in front of the 100 bottles of beer on the wall.  We both know those photos were uploaded along with a check-in at the new, local hot spot.  How many people do you think saw that check-in and photo, and thought, “Cool! Let’s go check out the new restaurant in town?”

What’s your shareable experience?

Good luck!

Kid Smashes Face, Restaurant Gets Another Sale: An Easy Way to Increase Revenue

7 Aug

After I finished my coffee and stuffed my face with a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich this morning, I asked the waitress for the bill.  The bill normally comes in that black American Express or Visa folder looking thing.  That’s not the case at Howard’s Station Café.  This is what the bill looks like:

Howard's cross-sell tactic

Howard’s cross-sell tactic

A magnetic square with the Howard’s Cafe magnet securing the bill and a message that reads, “Magnets For Sale at Counter.” 

Not only is this a unique way to deliver the final bill, but also a gentle reminder that you (or your small child) can purchase a magnet at the front when you checkout.  “Mommy! Daddy! Grandma! Grandpa! I want one of those magnets!!!” Any relative/friend/caretaker is more than happy to pay the extra $1.00 for the magnet, in order to prevent an all-out meltdown.  That’s another sale for Howard’s.

Guess what else is at the counter?  Three separate glass jars filled with three different kinds of homemade cookies.  The glass jars filled with cookies are on top of a glass case filled with other homemade desserts.  During my 30 minute breakfast, I witnessed two kids smash their face against the glass, hoping mom would buy a piece of cake for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  One kid got his wish.  Howard’s got another sale.

Do you have a cross strategy as part of your marketing plan and user experience?  Failure to implement a cross-sell marketing strategy leaves lots of money on the table.  What can you do to enhance the customer experience with a well-executed cross-sell marketing strategy? 

Good luck!

Why I Will Pay More to Fly All Nippon Airways on My Next International Flight

12 Jul
allnippon

Excellent customer experience!

By: Kurt Hunter

The customer/user experience was fantastic:

–          Upgraded, without request, to a seat with more legroom when I checked my baggage.  The associate said, “You are pretty tall – how about a seat with more legroom?” Okay….what’s the catch?

–          Greeted by a well-dressed associate who bowed and said, “Good morning” …..with a genuine smile (gasp) as I boarded the plane – where am I?

–          A package containing a pillow, blanket, and headphones were waiting at my seat – how much extra is this going to cost?

–          Received a hot towel to moisten my face and hands when we reached cruising altitude

–          Two bottles of water were next to me when I woke up from a 5-hour nap.  The flight attendant said she thought I might be thirsty….uhhh..WHAT? You actually put some thought into what I might want? 

–          Received recommendations for trying Japanese cuisine during the flight

–          Served my choice of tea during the flight

–          Greeted with a bow and a genuine “Thank You” as I deplaned

–          Every customer request was greeted with a smile and a bow

It was by far the best service I’ve experienced on an airline.  It’s obvious to me that the leadership of All Nippon Airways spent a great deal of time on customer/user experience.  It was almost as if the flight attendants and others All Nippon Airways staff knew what I wanted before I knew what I wanted.  That’s excellent customer experience.

Do you anticipate your customers’ wants and desires? Do you monitor customer behavior and tailor your products/services to those behaviors? Do you create the systems and train your staff to deliver a seamless, WOW experience for your customers?

Good luck.

How a Bail Taxi Driver Differentiated Himself from His Competition

10 Jul
Bali Sunset

Bali Sunset

I was fortunate enough to spend time in Bali, Indonesia last month.  What a life changing experience.  If you’ve ever visited Bali, you most likely had the phrase, “Taxi? Taxi? Tomorrow?” yelled at you.

Providing transportation services in Bali is an easy way for locals to make money.  The start-up costs are relatively cheap: they need a car or motorbike; and they can market the service by sitting on the sidewalk and yelling “Taxi? Taxi? Tomorrow?” at tourists.  It’s a pretty inexpensive marketing campaign.  Taxi drivers literally line the sidewalks in some tourists destinations like Ubud.

So how did one taxi driver stand out from the rest? He didn’t yell at people as they walked passed him. He stood next to his vehicle with a sign that read, “Air Conditioning, Bottled Water, and No Hassle Rate. In Bali, you can negotiate the price of anything.  It gets to be a little tiresome, especially when you’re not sure whether you’re paying too much.  How refreshing to get a ‘No Hassle Rate.’ And Air Conditioning? Heck, the majority of his competition had air conditioning but nobody else was advertising it.  Air conditioning is huge when you’re walking around in 90+ degree heat.

Once we entered the cab, the customer/user experience was excellent.  He held the door for us.  He made sure we were comfortable.  He asked if we wanted bottled water or a soda, free of charge.  He asked what type of music we wanted to listen to; he even made suggestions about where else to stop along the way to our destination—again, free of charge.

When we arrived at our destination, he double-checked the car to ensure we didn’t leave anything behind.  He also provided us with his business card to call him directly if we needed a ride while in Ubud.  The result of his marketing efforts? We called him four more times during our stay in Ubud.  He secured a customer for life.  I also gave his contact information to another friend staying in Ubud (referral).

What can you do to stand out from your competition? Are you providing a unique, unforgettable customer experience?

Good luck.

How to Create a Unique Marketing Campaign: 3 March Monthly Observances to Crush Your Competition

5 Mar
Happy On-Hold Month!!

Happy On-Hold Month!!

 

We all know St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in March, but did you know the following are also celebrated in March:

1)      On-Hold Month

2)      Eye Donor Month

3)      Craft Month

Guess which March event your competitors will likely decide to advertise?  Yes, St. Patrick’s Day- just like everyone else.  What happens when you advertise/reach out to customers and prospects at the same time as all your competitors and their mothers? You get lost in the clutter.  You are the same.  You are ignored. 

How many companies mail holiday cards to customers?  Tons.  Almost every household either has a basket to collect the cards or the cards are taped to the wall in the kitchen.  Now, how many companies mail cards to customers to celebrate On-Hold Month? I don’t have the data, but I’d be willing to bet very few.

So why not stand out from the crowd?  You should create marketing campaigns around unique monthly observances to stand out!

Create a campaign around “Craft Month.” Send an email/create a blog post/share on social media/mail a letter to your best clients: Happy Craft Month! To celebrate, we’ve CRAFTed (see what I did there? yeah, pretty lame) a deal……then offer your deal/promotion. 

Can you think of any unique monthly observances/wacky holidays to create for next marketing campaign, and crush your competition?

Good luck!

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