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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

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


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!


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!

Are You Willing to Invest 7 Minutes to Retain Your Best Clients?

30 Apr

A simple thank you note goes a long way

When’s the last time you took 5 to 7 minutes to write a handwritten thank you card to your Top 5 clients? Just to say thank you for being such a great client. Think about how you feel when you receive a handwritten card from a friend.  That card automatically brings a smile to your face and a warm feeling in your heart. You immediately think: “someone took the time to sit down and think of me.” Well, your most important client(s) will feel the same way when they receive a card from you. 

The card will also contribute to retaining that client in the future when competitors come knocking for his or her business. It will likely lead to referrals from your client. When I sent quarterly thank you notes to my best clients, I regularly received calls from them to say how much they appreciated the card.

Take 7 to 10 minutes this week to write five thank you cards to your best clients. I promise you will not be disappointed with the goodwill and word-of-mouth buzz it creates for you and your business!

Good luck!

Image Source

Should You Compete on Price or Customer Experience?

16 Feb

Create the Ultimate Customer Experience

Let me keep this simple: If you compete on price, your business will die a slow, painful death.  Price is the easiest marketing strategy for competitors to imitate. We see companies everywhere competing solely on price–just look at the airline and pizza industry.  Competing on price has several negative effects on your business, including:

1) Attracts price shoppers who have absolutely ZERO loyalty to you and your business.  The only way you to get them to buy again is to slash your prices.

2) Squeezes your profit margins. You have to compete by selling more volume to make up for the loss in margin–bad idea, unless you’re Wal-Mart.

A low price strategy is often the death of small businesses. As a small business owner, you have a unique opportunity to provide an unmatched customer experience.  Although it’s natural to assume every consumer buys strictly on price, studies indicate only between 5 percent and 10 percent of customers shop based on price.

Your strategy should focus on creating an unmatched customer experience for prospects and customers that interact with your company. How can you create a systematic experience that leaves people raving about your company? If you create that WOW experience, you will have loyal, raving, repeat customers who are willing to pay a premium for your products and services. More profits for your business equals more resources for you to expand and squash your competition.

Good Luck!

Nurture Your Current Customers and Watch Sales SOAR!

13 Feb

Nurture Your Current Customers!!!!

Countless research studies confirm that it costs a small business 10X more money and resources to attract a new customer. So why do most small (and many large) businesses continue to focus solely on new customer acquisition? It’s like having a cow farm and not building a fence around the field to keep them from running away!  Small business owners should focus on three critical areas:

1. Creating marketing systems that  attract highly qualified prospects

2. Creating sales systems that convert those prospects to customers

3. Creating nurturing systems that WOW current customers so they not only buy again but also recommend your products and services (this is where the majority of businesses fail)

When a prospect becomes a customer, the following should automatically occur:

The prospect is updated to a client in your database>the customer is segmented based on profitability to your company (Gold, Silver, Bronze)>each segment (Gold, Silver, Bronze) receives nurturing from your company on a regular basis.

For example, Gold clients might receive the following from you: Monthly Newsletter (written by you), hand-written Thank You card every quarter, a phone call to “check-in” every few months, promotional items reserved specifically for them.

Each item is kept on a “Client Nurturing Calendar” so you and your staff know exactly when to send nurturing materials. For example: On February 29, 2012, every Gold and Silver client receives “Leaping  with Thanks” thank you card (Leap Year…get it?).  Corny, but people love it. The card could be a picture of you and your staff, simply thanking them for their business.

Find creative ways to show your current customers that you love them, and your business will benefit from repeat buyers and tons of referrals! Good luck!


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