Tag Archive: customer


Way to go Menards!!!

Last weekend was my first trip to Menards, and I have to say that I was very impressed with all aspects of my visit.

Honestly, what struck me as one of the best things I saw on my trip was this sign, which was hung in a public area:

There are several reasons why I liked this sign so much:

  1. It cost virtually nothing to print and hang it up,
  2. It alters the attitudes of your employees when they see it,
  3. The customer also sees it (since it’s in a public area and not just in the break room), and feels better because they feel that their experience is important to your company, and
  4. Even if the same level of satisfactory service is received with nothing really ‘above-and-beyond’, I feel that the customer would still leave a little more satisfied from seeing this sign.

This sign is a cheap and simple way to change everyone’s state of mind in a positive direction, and, for taking this type of material out of the break room and on to the sales floor, I commend Menards!

The Method of Extremes

Lately I’ve been struggling with setting goals and priorities, and, as all great things come out of turmoil, I’ve stumbled upon a new method and strategy for dealing with this prioritizing and goal setting: The Method of Extremes.

Note: I should also clarify that this strategy is best applied to a task after the baseline work has been completed (for example: the next revision of an existing product). This should help determine where that last bit of your creative energy (the hardest stuff to come by) is spent. 

Please allow me to demonstrate:

Let’s say you’re DeWALT and you make a power drill: Your goal might be to make a smaller and more powerful drill.

Now, let’s take this to the extreme! Let’s say that we’re 10 or 20 years down the road, you’ve conquered the technological stumbling blocks, and you have created a 100V drill that fits in a 1″ x 1″ x 1″ box.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty useless drill to me (not to mention that one of your competitors could steal your title if they are just 1mm smaller in any dimension); therefore, should making a smaller, faster drill really be our #1 goal?

…but of course your end result would be ridiculous,” You might say, “That’s what happens when you take things to the extreme!“, but I beg to differ:

Let’s say now that your goal was to create a drill with sufficient torque to accomplish your required task and a size conducive to the ability to complete the task at hand, but your most creative energy went into creating the best ergonomic design possible.

Let’s take this to the extreme: You would have the most comfortable drill possible, and it will still accomplish its desired functions. It may even be bigger and heavier than your competitor’s drill, but that won’t matter if it’s the most comfortable!

I don’t know about you, but I’d buy that drill!!!

It’s time to re-evaluate where were expending that last bit of creative energy with the Method of Extremes.

Amazon.com:

After all of the good times we’ve had together…

After all of the all of the major purchases we’ve made together…

After all of the personal information I’ve shared with you…

You send me this in an e-mail?!?!!

Amazon.com customer? Is that all I am to you? (…and even if it is…why would you be that obvious about it?)

It truly is the little things which separate the amazing from the run-of-the-mill…

Spotify – Fail

Really, I don’t know how many times I can talk about designing personalized ads for folks if you have enough information to do so!

Moreover, I don’t know why companies haven’t yet gotten this through their thick skulls.

Today’s offender is none other than Spotify:

I was doing my morning workout with my Spotify “Angry Workout Playlist” in the background (This playlist is a tasteful arrangement of compositions by artists such as Rise Against, Linkin Park, Slipknot, Static-X, Mudvayne, etc [Don’t judge!]), when an ad came on.

Now, I understand that I’m going to get advertisements (as I have a free account), but this was no ordinary ad: This was an ad for Pier One.

Now, I believe that, if you met a person on the street who was listening to the type of music on my workout playlist, you would not offer them a pamphlet from Pier One (you’d probably be more likely to offer them a Guitar Center magazine).

Why, then, is it ok for Spotify to do this when Spotify has this same knowledge of me (and even more, as Spotify knows my facebook account in addition to my listening preferences, so they should be certain that I am not in Pier One’s target demographic).

I suppose what irks me the most is that ads like this are nothing but destructive. They do not make any additional sales for Pier One and they do not increase my customer satisfaction with Spotify.

If you have the info – Customize!

Delivered by…

I love this: on my pizza delivery receipt, they included the order “Taken at” time and the “Delivered by” time.

Why is this so awesome?

I believe this is so great because of the following:

  1. It takes minimal effort and money to add this data to the receipt
  2. It allows the driver to properly prioritize his orders (if he gets confused as to which order should be delivered first)
  3. I’m pleased if I receive my pizza before the “Delivered by” time
  4. If my pizza is late, I will be upset anyway (even if they didn’t print the time on the receipt)

All customers have expectations, but they seldom quantify them; if we’re as good as we claim to be, this can be used to our advantage.

For example: I had no idea at which exact time I wanted my pizza. I just wanted it before I got too hungry and before it got “too late”. By seeing this receipt, it planted in my head that I wanted my pizza by 7:17pm, and that they exceeded my expectation by 19 minutes. I just went from content to happy – but there was no change in the act of delivery whatsoever!

Some high-schooler still took my pizza, put it in his car (with the funny sign on the roof), and drove it to my house – nothing physically changed in that process. The only difference, which led to me being more satisfied, was that they quantified my expectation, and then exceeded my, now quantified, expectation.

Where, in our daily lives, can we quantify other people’s ambiguous expectations of us so that we can exceed them? Project timelines with our bosses or our customers? Where else?

At the company I work for, not unlike many other companies nowadays, they are really cracking down on people printing in color.

We’ve had several rounds of e-mails from executives (…or the executive’s secretaries, anyway), fancy graphs (in color) of how much more it is costing the company  every time we print in color, and some people have put fancy tag lines on their e-mail signatures, but people continue to print in color.

The solution is NOT that we need more e-mails and threats from the folks who make much more money than us, the solution is actually quite simple: Change the default setting!

That’s right, this printer is currently set to print in color by default. This means, any time anyone hits print, they print in color. To not print in color, they have to go into the settings and change them such that they will only print in black & white. While this simple task does not take much time (just a couple of mouse clicks), it does take effort, and people are, by nature, resistant to expending any additional effort beyond the base that is required to complete their intended task.

Now, what can this failure teach us about how to reach success? Make the “default” lead to your desired outcome! 

Another awesome example of this involves organ donations. In full text, it can be found here. Summarized, this study goes as follows:

When you renew your driver’s license, you have a chance to enroll in an organ donation program. In countries like Germany and the U.S., you have to check a box if you want to opt in. Roughly 14 percent of people do. But behavioral scientists have discovered that how you set the defaults is really important. So in other countries, like Poland or France, you have to check a box if you want to opt out. In these countries, more than 90 percent of people participate. This is a gigantic behavior difference cued by one tiny and costless change in procedure.

These examples should be more than enough evidence to demonstrate that you need to design your website, booth, product, marketing plan, etc such that, when a customer acts in the manner of least resistance, they are accomplishing your desired purpose. If you require any extra effort, you are losing sales and you are losing customers!

Contact us…maybe…

When I was learning to play bass guitar in High School (not that long ago), I picked up this handy little doo-dad to help me strengthen my fingers so I could play faster like my idol, Victor Wooten.

Anyway, I just noticed the “contact information” on this little guy yesterday, and I have to admit that I was a little surprised and confused at the same time…

Has there ever been a time in history when fax was the only option?

Takin’ it in stride…

Packaging, packaging, packaging…

Once again it rears its ugly head…

Dear Stride Gum,

I understand that you need to use a little adhesive so your sticks of gum don’t come sliding out of the package, but can you please not use so much that I tear every wrapper of every single piece that I try to take out of the package?

I’d really love to offer my friends a piece of gum without having to wonder if they think I’ve given it a test chew or two, and I’d also like to be able to take a piece out of the package and put it in my pocket for later without worrying about the gum becoming lint-infused due to a damaged wrapper!

Why doesn’t Trident have this issue? Perhaps you could see what they’re doing correctly!!!

Props!!!

Ok, I have to give credit where credit is due!!!

My wife and I love us some Horizon Organic Milk!

It’s expensive, but it lasts forever, and it tastes amazing (Thank you, UHT pasteurization!).

Well, I bought a 3-pack from Sam’s Club a few weeks ago, and upon removing the cartons from the box that contained them, the milk cartons tore open and milk was dripping everywhere!

I contacted the company via their website, and received a response within 2 business days.

Unfortunately, their response looked like this:

Thank you for submitting your comments to Horizon Organic?s Consumer Affairs Team.  We will respond to your e-mail within 3 business days.?

…but it was a response nonetheless.

The same day, they sent me a personal response and promptly mailed me a check for a little more than the purchase price of the milk.

…a little rough on the execution, but, overall, a great experience with Horizon Organic Milk!

Beat them with marketing!!!

Honey is honey. The ingredients are: honey. There is almost nothing more basic.

How, then, do you differentiate your honey from your competitors honey?

Why, packaging, of course!!!

Dutch Gold Honey claims to be the first company who started packaging their honey in plastic bears, and what an impact they’ve made (heck, my picture is proof that Meijer has adopted this shape for their honey containers – and my wife (and I’m sure many other folks) will go to great lengths to buy the honey bear, even if it’s more expensive than the other, more plainly bottled, honey products).

Frankly, I think the move to the new container was nothing short of brilliant.

Dutch Gold could have done a few things in this scenario, they could have kept their honey packed in the same boring jars as everyone else, or shaped their container as something more related to honey (a honeycomb or a bee, perhaps), but they didn’t, and more power to them for making the decision they made!

Dutch Gold exploited a looser association, and, thus, they occupied a new position in the consumer’s mind. Everyone thinks of bees and honey, but bears and honey are not quite as closely related (Heck, word on the street says that the bears are more into the bee larvae than the honey anyway).

So Kudos to you, Dutch Gold. It’s just a shame that it seems like everyone puts their honey into bear-shaped containers nowadays.