Tuesday April 1, 2014

Micro-Disappointments and the Starbucks Difference

I've had a couple experiences in the last few weeks that reflect an important, but subtle difference between the experience Starbucks offers, and that of a local coffee shop I've always frequented. I'll start with the local shop: 

Typical morning routine (7am)- I have my REI travel mug loaded with grass-fed butter and MCT oil- ready to mix up my Bulletproof coffee concoction. I'm en route to the office and need to make a quick stop to fill up with some black. 

I walk in, look up to their board to see what kind of single origin they have this week (NW coffee snob) and it reads Brazil. Sounds delicious. (I have no idea, but it has to be more interesting than the HOUSE blend, right?)

So I remove the cap to my mug, slide it across the counter and ask, "Brazil, please". Then reach for my wallet to grab my card.

The girl at the counter hesitates, and calls back to the other girl working on something else, "Do we have the Brazil ready yet?" "No, still brewing," the other girl replied.

She turns to me and says, "Sorry, is HOUSE okay?"  

I say "sure", she swipes my card for the usual $1.70, and I wait as she fills my mug. Then I leave. 

So what's the big deal? 

The fact of the matter is- I might never have blogged about that experience, or even complained to my friends or tweeted about it to my followers. But as I walked out to my car, something occured to me. I was just disappointed. More subtle than that. Let's call it a micro-disappointment. Here's what I mean:

I went in, saw something I wanted that the business indicated they had available. Something I wanted more than the other thing. I had positive anticipation. Then I'm informed they don't actually have that thing available, and my only option really, is to take the other thing. They still charge me the same price though.

I just had a micro-disappointment. Of course one of those every once in a while isn't going to make me get coffee somewhere else, but what is the cumulative effect.

K, more on that later. Interestingly though, I had exactly the same situation come up at Starbucks yesterday, but with a different outcome:


I walk in to Starbucks, find a seat in front of the window, set my bag down, and then head over to get in line. When it's my turn, I order, "I'll just have a small decaf in a mug please." She replied, "We are actually right in the middle of brewing that. Would you prefer to wait til it's done brewing, or would you like a decaf Americano right away?" 

I think about it for a sec, forgetting you can actually get a decaf espresso drink, and then replied, "the Americano is fine." It didn't even occur to me that of course, the espresso drink would be more expensive than the brewed coffee.

As she takes my card for payment, she says, "I'm just going to charge you the same as the brewed coffee since we didn't have it ready. Have an excellent day."


Well done Starbucks. It's subtle, but I went to my seat after the exchange noticing what had just happened. I experienced a micro-delight. 

I believe for brands, these micro-impressions, are the key to converting passive customers into advocates. That also means that micro-disappointments have a cumulative effect of passifying otherwise evangelical promoters. 

Generally speaking, brands spend a lot of time strategizing around bottom-line results like acquisition and defection, and very little time on the micro-moments that drive them. 

Here's three places to look for disappointment triggers: 
  • Incongruency
    • Do your sales people or field reps have any outdated materials, price sheets, spec sheets, feature lists? Are your product photos up to date? 
    • Does your website accurately reflect your current pricing, hours of service, response time, current inventory, etc? 
    • For restaurants/food services- are your menu's up to date?
  • Hard edges- Do you have rules/policies that prevent your frontline staff from making reasonable accomodations? (" We always...", "We never...")
  • Interaction logging
    • Are customer conversations, complaints, questions systematically captured? 
    • Is staff trained how to review and appropriately reference customer logs when the customer calls back or they make a followup call?

Chris Nordyke is an integrated marketer and strategy consultant. He works with owners and senior business leaders to transform and grow service companies via a unique holistic approach that drives referral business and client retention. Click here to schedule a complimentary consult with Chris.


Tuesday March 11, 2014

5 Questions for the "Local" Retailer

It used to be that the big box stores and online vendors purely offered superior price and convenience. The service was abysmal. A huge trade-off for many people.  

But that was 5 or 10 years ago. 

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Monday March 10, 2014

The $5 Discount "Gift"

I've gotten this exact same post card for the last probably 3 years running. So has my wife Cara. This small-town Chiropractor isn't alone though, I see this kind of "gift-giving" all the time, across all service and retail businesses. 

So I figure it's worth taking a few minutes and breaking this particular card down as a case study. I'll be excited to see your comments and insights below. 

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Thursday February 27, 2014

Sky High

Apologizing well is a key behavior for brand-builders to develop in their organization. When it comes to branding and marketing, it's no longer good enough to simply lure people through the door, brand-builders have to tightly manage the experience, clear through to fulfulliment and followup. 

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Tuesday February 25, 2014

Stoned Kale

A quick case study for you today: 

Stoned Kale

I met a colleague last week at a restaurant I love. One of those casual, but healthy dining concepts. He asked for a menu suggestion, so I recommended my favorite dish- one with lots of veggies, kale and local meat. 

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Monday February 17, 2014

Customer Experience No Longer Requires Entry-Level People

Great customer experience (CX) is a human event.

Great CX is rehearsed by people placing themselves in the same process or event and asking the question, "What do I feel, want, need, appreciate when I'm on the other side of the desk/phone? 

How do I create something special that I would appreciate?

Most companies though, settle for a more scripted, manageable approach.

The justifying self-talk that runs through manager's minds:"We have entry-level roles. It's too much to expect everyone to think on that level."

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Monday February 10, 2014

10 Ways Brands Can Build During Major Weather Events- Snowpocalypse 2014

Shoveling snow in front of business

So where's the opportunity for businesses in this? It depends on your orientation. If you're simply looking for ways to drive people through your doors and make sales during the storm event, this isn't for you. If you're looking for ways to deepen customer loyalty, attract new customers, rally your employees, generate authentic buzz about your brand, draw defector customers back, this is for you. Essentially, if you play to win the long game- there's opportunity in the midst of this chaos. 


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Monday December 16, 2013

3 Ways to Win With Mediocrity

It's experiences like these where I just scratch my head and wonder, "How do businesses that are this mediocre succeed?" I've given that great thought, and with that, I present to you with three strategies for succeeding while maintaining world-class mediocrity:


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Tuesday December 10, 2013

Removing Anonymity- 5 Reasons to Give Your Techs Business Cards

Issuing cards to all your techs is just one simple step to increase customer loyalty and create a point of pride within the service department. There's all kinds of ways you can build on this first step, but this is a positive starting point. 

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Tuesday December 3, 2013

Email Me Like a Human- An Alternative to Terrible Mass Email Marketing

Oprah Winfrey "Everyone gets an email"

Like the rest of you, I just survived the retail black plague. Part of the onslaught was a cascade of email pitches from all kinds of brands, many of whom I’m actually fond of. But I ignored 90% of it. Even Bonobos, a brand I’m fond of,  was part of the racket.

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