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What a Hair Salon Can Teach You About Quickly Increasing Referrals and Sales

20 Nov

As we opened the door our senses were immediately overwhelmed: The sounds of soft reggae music; the smell of freshly brewed coffee and hair products ; the sight of a clean, modern designed lobby, furnished with leather chairs and flat screen televisions.  There was even a small bar in the corner.

long-curly-hair-back-view

I LOVE YOUR HAIR!!!

The Arrival Experience 

“Can I get you something to drink? We have coffee, beer, soft drinks, tea, and wine.”

Brianna requested a glass of water.  “Sparkling or still?” Seriously?

My only thought: Did we enter a hair salon or a five-star resort? We were at a hair salon….  Yes, I accompanied Brianna to the hair salon.  It’s a long story….don’t ask.

As Brianna disappeared behind the large glass wall for her two hour hair appointment, I settled in the nice, comfortable leather chair.  The receptionist brewed a fresh cup of coffee for me and insisted that I enjoy the free Wi-Fi.  SportsCenter was on the flat screen television directly in front of me.  I could get used to this setup. 

The Money Transaction Experience 

“Oh. My. Goodness!!!!! It looks awesome! Turn around, let me see the back!!!!!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard a variation of this phrase.  Each time a stylist finished a client’s hair and led her to the front to checkout, other stylists and clients in the waiting room fawned over the new hairstyle.

Here’s what happened when the excitement died down:

1)      The stylist hugged the client (seriously, every client got a hug) and left the payment transaction and next appointment scheduling to the receptionist.  The stylist is there to cut and style hair (what they do best), not handle administrative transactions.

Side note: If my barber went in for a hug it would be  beyond a little strange.  

2)      The receptionist verified all contact information:

“Is your email still…..”

“Is the number to reach you still…”

This is to ensure the client receives not only a reminder for her next haircut but also so the client receives all future marketing communications from the salon.

3)      The receptionist asked, “When would you like to schedule your next appointment? Becky recommends 6 to 8 weeks, how does that work for you?”

4) Also, the client was invited to an ‘invitation only’ event featuring a semi-famous make up artist.  Complimentary food and drinks. FABULOUS!

hair-salon-art

The Getting in Your Car and Leaving Experience 

Needless to say, the client feels like a million bucks. She will probably tell at least 3 to 5 girlfriends after they comment about how good her hair looks (referrals).  This awesome customer experience is not an accident.  Management took the time to not only design and implement the experience but also train the team to execute the experience.

What’s your plan for delivering a memorable customer experience?

1)      Start by identifying the touch points your prospects and customers have with your business. Examples of touch points: your store front, your office, your website, your social media pages

2)      Pretend your a client.  Shop your own business from beginning (entering the office/store) to middle (sales process) to end (when it’s time to pay for your products/services)

3) Focus on the details – colors, design/layout, greeting, logo, furniture, music, offerings

Make each step of the experience memorable for the prospect/client. It will lead to more cross-sell opportunities, lots of repeat business and increase your referrals. All of which will put more $$$ in your pocket.

Good luck!

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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

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!

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 a Brownie Improved My Customer Experience

26 Feb
mmmm

mmmm…..

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!

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