Little, inexpensive things mean a lot

What transforms an experience from “acceptable” to “cant wait to tell my friends”?

To me, “acceptable” service starts with a smile, an effort to make sure the customer received what they came for, eye contact and a thank you.

“Can’t wait to tell my friends” service doesn’t come *before* you do little inexpensive things, it comes *because of* little inexpensive things.

That’s right – the things that transform your service to “cant wait to tell my friends” are often simple, inexpensive little things.

By themselves they might not seem like such a big deal. Below, a few examples. In each case, consider the perception of the customer.

The birthday card

  • A birthday postcard sent via an automated postcard service during your customers’ birthday month vs. no card at all.
  • A birthday postcard sent via an automated postcard service vs a hand written birthday card signed by the owner or manager.
  • A voice mail from the business owner wishing you a happy birthday, vs. a brief call to invite you into their establishment that required 4 callbacks to get you in person.

In 5 of 6 cases, a happy birthday message arrives. What’s the difference in the perception of the message?

A cup of coffee

  • A tasty cup of latte made from freshly ground, freshly roasted beans vs. a cup of latte made from coffee ground 2 weeks ago and roasted who knows when (matters to those who can tell, doesn’t matter to those who cannot).
  • A tasty cup of latte made from freshly ground, freshly roasted beans vs. a tasty cup of latte made from freshly-ground, freshly-roasted beans that is topped with latte art such as the cat you see above.
  • A tasty cup of latte made from freshly-ground, freshly-roasted beans that is topped with latte art in the shape of a fleur-de-lis to celebrate the Saints’ Super Bowl win.
  • A tasty cup of latte made from freshly-ground, freshly-roasted beans that is topped with latte art in the shape of a heart for the runup to Valentine’s Day

Doesn’t make the coffee taste better, but it does provoke someone to talk about what transformed a mundane cup of coffee (no matter how good) into something you tell everyone about, that you take a picture of with your phone and post on Facebook or Twitter, and that causes you to bring your best friend the cat lover to this place as a little surprise. Next thing you know, she’s bringing all her cat lover friends.

In the latter case, something to create a little free buzz (pun intended). Perhaps you do so before the game and give your customers a choice of the Colts’ horseshoe or the Saints’ fleur-de-lis. You can do this year-round for holidays, sports events, you name it.

The letter

  • A letter from your Senator congratulating you on an achievement, with the Senator’s signature signed by the Senator’s personal assistant.
  • A letter from your Senator congratulating you on an achievement, with the signature rubber stamped onto the letter.
  • A letter from your Senator congratulating you on an achievement, with the signature printed as part of the letter.
  • A letter from your Senator congratulating you on an achievement, with a handwritten signature.
  • A letter from your Senator congratulating you on an achievement, with a handwritten signature , and a brief handwritten PS from the Senator.

Which of these would you show to your friends? Which would you frame and hang on your office wall? Which would you keep in your scrapbook for the rest of your life? Which would you show your grandkids 30-40 years from now?

Little, inexpensive things mean a lot.  They create relationships that few competitors can hope to break.

9 thoughts on “Little, inexpensive things mean a lot”

  1. You’re absolutely right about this. These little inexpensive things are usually not difficult to implement, and customers do notice them. Even if they don’t consciously notice them, a trend of seamlessly good or pleasant service causes the customer to associate good feelings with your company. -Josh

  2. This reminded me about a car sales rep who always manages to sell a lot of cars and one of his secret is getting the birthdates and wedding anniversary dates of his clients and sending them a greeting card on those days. Yup, the little things, the little touches of attention are now more important than ever as the pace of life goes faster. These little things show the client that you care, that you are taken time off just for him or her. – Phillip

  3. Great post! Much food for thought. Of course right now I’ll take the coffee buzz… LOL
    It doesn’t require a lot of effort to change one’s perception of what we are doing from “That was nice” to “Wow”
    Bob

  4. That is a good question Mark. It would do well for businesses to train employees to go the extra mile. A little goes a long long way.

    Bob

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