There is some rule of thumb in marketing that an angry customer tells 10 times as many people as a happy customer does. (Incidentally, there’s a book with a variation of this rule as the title). As a happy customer, I feel a duty to help out the brands that go out of their way. These are four stand out examples. I encourage you to patronize these stores (that is visit them regularly not be condescending towards them).
- Vat19.com: A recent discovery (along with these others), Vat19.com is an online retailer that really impressed me with a short, simple hand written thank you postcard after a purchase. While there’s good reason to lament the impersonal nature of emails, text messages and Facebook wall posts, the up side is that they have increased the impact of the tried-and-true snail mail.
- Revolution Cycles (in DC): Out of this bike shop in the DC area comes this remarkable example of personalized service, though it’s second hand so I hope I don’t botch it. A friend’s bike got stolen, which in this area is unfortunately not that uncommon. A few weeks later, a worker at Revolution Cycles saw a suspicious (likely helmet-less) character riding a bike and asked where he got it. The bike-rider answered that he got it at a local bike shop to which the employee replied, “No you didn’t. They don’t sell that brand there. How about this? You give the bike to me or I’ll call the cops.” He got the bike, looked up the owner (who bought it there) and called her up to return it. This employee deserves employee of the month.
- Neiman Marcus: To most it’s probably a given that a store that charges $100 for a basic t-shirt would provide high quality customer service, but I was still surprised since I shop there once every 6 years. Similar to Vat19’s approach, the employee that helped me sent me a hand written thank you note with her card in case I needed her help on anything else.
- Chipotle: My brother recently ordered a burrito online and was surprised that it suggests you call to ensure they received your order. He obliged so you can imagine was even more peeved that when he showed up to pick it up, they had forgotten to make it. He got home and sent a frustrated note from their website. To his delight, they followed up with an email apology, followed by a call from the store’s manager, followed by a coupon for two free burritos and, icing on the cake, an invitation to come to the store for a burrito meal for himself and friends. I was lucky to be one of the friends and got the guacamole just because I didn’t have to pay extra. Excellent job Chipotle.