“Any business with delighted customers has a sales force they won’t have to pay; You don’t see them, but they are talking to people all the time.” Warren Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.
We have made a compilation of stories of brands that turned a particular experience of their customers into the best kind of marketing. Some are part of the business strategy of the brand, others are just brilliant exceptions or a clever way to turn what could be a bad situation into a happy customer.
Thor, the Amazon customer service rep
You've probably heard about that time when an Amazon representative introduced himself as "Thor". The customer jokingly asked if he could be Odin and let's say that the conversation just escalated from there:
Me: Tracking shows delivered but shipment not received
Amazon: Warmest greetings [...] my name is Thor.
Me: Greetings, Thor. Can I be Odin?
Amazon: Odin, Father, How art thy doing on this here fine day?
Me: Thor, my son. Agony raises upon my life.
Amazon: This is outrageous! Who dares defy The All Father Odin! What has occurred to cause this agony?
Me: I’m afraid the book I ordered to defeat our enemies has been misplaced. How can we keep Valhalla intact without our sacred book?
Amazon: This is blasphemy! Wherever this book has been taken to, I shall make it my duty to get it back to you! I fear it is Loki but I dare not blame him for such things. I shall have your fortune returned to you and thereafter we can create a new quest in order to get the book back to you.
Me: Very well my son.
Amazon: Allow me some time to round up my allies and complete this my father.
Me: Do it for me Thor, but most importantly do it for the mortals whose destiny (and grades) rely on this book.
Amazon: Alas, the treasure has been returned to you. You now need to reinstate your book into your archive so that you may yet receive it soon. I shall have the Valkyrie deliver it to you as fast as their wings can move.
Me: Ok so roleplay aside I have my money back and reorder the book?
Amazon: haha yes I have refunded you and you need to reorder the book.
Amazon: Have you placed the order
Me: Let me do that done
Amazon: Okay let me edit it for you [...] that good?
Me: Wow hooking me up for one day delivery? Sweet!
Amazon: Haha yea man gotta get your book asap!
Me: I’ve heard Amazon has great customer service and this just proves it! thanks man
Amazon: No problem, is there any other issue or question that I can help you with?
Me: Nah that was it. Really appreciate it
Amazon: Anytime bro. Have a great day. Goodbye Odin
Me: Bye my son.
The stuffed bunny that stayed at Adare Manor
Imagine this had happened to you when you were a kid: you lose your favourite toy during your family holidays, the one that you carry around with you all the time. It is a terrible experience when you are a kid, you know if this ever happened to you.
This little girl forgot her stuffed bunny, Jellycat, at the Adeare Manor hotel, and the staff decided to make this bad experience delightful for both, herself and her bunny.
Jellycat was pampered as any other hotel guest while waiting for its owner to come back. Adare Manor posted pictures on Facebook of the toy relaxing by the swimming pool, receiving a massage, having tea and pastries at the restaurant... It wasn't just a way to make the little girl happy, but also a way to make a funny, shareable story for social media, featuring the hotel's different services.
You may have heard similar stories, like the one of Joshie the giraffe or this lost elephant that got to travel the world. The next time a kid forgets a toy in your establishment, you know what to do!
Sainsbury's giraffe bread
The protagonist of this story is another little girl, Lily Robinson. She got in touch with Sainsuby's customer service department concerning one of the products of the brand, called "tiger bread" (featured in the image). She didn't quite understand why it was called like that, because it didn't look like a tiger at all and she had a sensible suggestion to make:
Why is tiger bread c\alled tiger bread? It should be c\alled giraffe bread.
Love from Lily Robinson age 3 1/2
Customer support manager "Chris King (age 27 & 1/3)" responded as it follows:
Thank you so much for your letter. I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea - it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn't it?
It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a loooong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.
The answer also included a Sainsbury's gift card. Eventually, and after a viral Internet campaign, Sainsbury's decided to change the name of the bread, informing customers of the reason behind the decision.
Lego's gift to a child who lost his ninja
Luka, a 7-year-old kid from Great Britain, lost one of his favourite Lego minifigs from a Ninjago set. It was a blue ninja named Jay ZX. Following his father's advice, Luka sent the following email to Lego hoping they would send him a minifig like the one he had lost:
My name is Luka Apps and I am seven years old. With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kit of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good.
My Daddy just took me to Sainsburys and told me to leave the people at home but I took them and I lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat. I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you a email to see if you will send me another one.
I promise I won't take him to the shop again if you can.
Lego is known for sending lost pieces for free when customers request them, but in this case they decided to do something more. This was the letter Luka received in response:
I told Sensei Wu that losing your Jay minifigure was purely an accident and that you would never ever ever let it happen ever again.
He told me to tell you, "Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!"
Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.
So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons. You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines 3 different Jays into one! I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight!
Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad.
There seems to be something in paying attention to kids when it comes to delighting customers in unexpected ways, right?
HEX's 13,000 handwritten thank-you notes
Why does this work? Although customer delight is something that should be a priority in all stages of the customer journey, salespeople know there are three key moments that stay in the mind of a customer over all the others: The first impression, the "peak" moment, and the last impression.
Most sellers focus on the first impression, but the others are equally important, and they can fix a bad start.
The "peak" moment is when the seller or the customer service rep does something beyond the client's expectations, like in many of these examples.
The last impression is the goodbye, the last interaction with the customer. It can be receiving an order and finding it beautifully wrapped, for instance, or these thoughtful notes that someone took the time to write by hand. It is the kind of detail that doesn't go unnoticed.
Even if writing thank you notes to your clients won't make your brand go viral, it will make your clients feel appreciated and more likely to recommend you.
Brew Maison's 3D latte art
Latte art used to be something special and surprising, made by just a few baristas, but it has grown so popular that now it's almost expected.
Nescafé even has a page with latte art tutorials to teach baristas how to create a 'luxurious' first impression. If you want your clients to "instagram" their drinks, you need to get creative.
And if you want to make sure they have no option but share pictures of your latte art, then you need to get REALLY creative. For example, 3D latte art is becoming popular now in Singapore and Tokyo. When something that used to be surprising becomes the norm, you need to go one step beyond.
Photo by Amit Gupta.
The first time I was surprised by a brand was when I received a plastic dino with my Photojojo order. I simply love Photojojo's shop. It's easy and fun to browse, it has cool products for photo geeks, and they make sure every step you take is enjoyable.
When I received my order, I saw a funny warning sign on the box alerting of a dinosaur inside the package. And indeed, there was a tiny little plastic dinosaur! They send a different one with every order, so you almost feel like you want to keep ordering to make a collection. Who doesn't like dinosaurs?
It is another example of how something small can leave a memorable last impression of your brand. The proof is I'm still telling you today about my first Photojojo plastic dino.
Sure, it doesn't have anything to do with photography, but they made a tutorial to teach happy customers how to turn their plastic dinos into photo stands.
More dinosaur love: At this hotel, a customer asked to have a baby Stegosaurus in his room under "Special Requests" when booking. They couldn't find a Stegosaurus, but they got him a Parasaurolophus instead.
Groupon's Banana Bunker
There was no point in fighting the punny jokes and innuendos when promoting this product on Facebook. Groupon's communication team knew it, and they decided to embrace the fun and answer followers with witty responses. They turned a potentially awkward post into viral gold.
And apparently, the lolz attracted so many customers looking for a gag gift that Groupon ran out of Banana Bunkers:
When delighting customers, what works and what is too much?
All these strategies and quirky moments have a few things in common.
- They are consistent with the personality of the brand.
- They don't interfere with the client's experience or interrupt them.
- They don't overwhelm the client.
- They solve a problem while giving something extra.
- They are perceived as fun and attentive.
But there is no simple magic formula. This isn't about handwritten notes or unexpected dinosaurs, it's about proving to your customers that you care. Maybe these ideas are not aligned with your business' personality, and that's fine. What would be?
Think about the three key moments: First impression, "peak" moment, and last impression. What's your customer experience right now during those moments? How could it be improved, without overdoing it?
- Hubspot Blog: "The Pillars of Delight".
- Entrepreneur: "Delight your customers by being effortless, not over the top."
- Hubspot Academy: "3 Ways to delight your customers to earn their trust".