When marketing to women, your challenge is to wiggle your way through all that brain wiring in order to plant your brand in the reward behavior area of the brain. Whatever you do, it’s gotta be memorable.
Last week, when I wrote about how New Balance threw me for a loop, I mentioned that I’ve challenged a couple of my clients to try an idea for upping the ante on customer experience.
Here’s how it works:
1. Make a solid decision to give every employee the authority to add to a customer’s delight factor. Some of the most profitable companies in the U.S. have embedded this philosophy into their culture. It’s at the core of the Ritz-Carlton brand (they’ve even created a training program for business owners just like you), and has garnered immense brand loyalty for Zappo’s.
2. Show them the money. Suddenly bestowing power upon your employees with a rah-rah session will do little. Most employees won’t believe you (and will therefore do nothing); a few will take it to extremes and cost you a fortune. You need to have clear boundaries. I have one client, a small retail store chain, that has started a program by giving each employee $50 per month with which to delight customers in unique ways. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s enough to play with.
3. Budget for the program with marketing dollars. Work a pilot program into your marketing budget. You could even split the cost between your marketing and staff training budgets, because it’s a tool to keep customers coming back AND build employee buy-in.
4. Create some friendly competition. Offer some kind of reward each month to the employee who thinks of the most creative way to wow a customer. The best rewards are the ones that have nothing to do with your own business – it could be a Visa gift card, dinner for two to a nice restaurant, etc. Make it worthy enough to create friendly competition.
One of my favorite examples involves a shoe retailer that had a customer come in complaining that her new puppy had just chewed up one of her favorite sandals. After the transaction, the sales person stopped by a pet store on his way home. The next day, he put a rawhide bone and a chewy toy in a box with a handwritten note that said, “Thanks so much for stopping by yesterday, and for doing business with us. We hope this little gift for your pup will keep his mind (and his teeth!) off of your shoes for awhile, anyway!”
Now, that’s a winner – stories like that will inspire other employees to get creative. And no one said they have to use all $50 on one person – if employees can spread the wealth across 2 or 3 customers, all the better.
If you have the patience and attention to build a simple program like this, the money and time you invest will have an exponential ROI. Remember to budget for it, and give it several months for the power of the program to sink in with your employees. I guarantee you, once your staff realizes that you really are giving them authority and they see and hear inspirational stories, it will become addictive for them.
Try it for yourself and see if your customers – and employees – don’t start to fall just a little bit more in love with you.