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Sweat the small stuff!

 16 June 2017     Donald Cooper 

A few years ago, on a trip to New York I came across a large brick wall on which someone had spray painted in huge letters, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” But then some wise person wrote just below it, “but it’s the small stuff that makes all the difference!” When it comes to wowing customers the small stuff makes a big difference.

Over the past few years all of the world’s major airlines have added small design, comfort and experience amenities to attract high-end passengers to their very profitable business class and first class cabins. Most recently, Delta Airlines invested three years and over $2 million in a partnership with iconic Italian design house Alessi to create a stunning line of glassware, plates, utensils and other service pieces.

Turkish Airlines has actual chefs on board their long haul flight to prepare meals for business class and first class passengers.

Singapore Airlines, who does everything better, partnered with Paris design house Givenchy back in 2006 to create elegant amenities for their high-end customers.

Back in my days as an innovative fashion retailer we offered a choice of seven free beverages while our competitors all had signs on their front door saying: No Food or Beverages. We spent $54,000 to build an incredible pirate ship play area for kids because a mother cannot try on a pair of pants in a change room with a child laminated to her leg screaming to go home. You have to get the kid off the leg so she can try on the pants. But our competitors said it’s her kid and it’s her leg, therefore, it’s her problem.

We had electric reclining massage chairs for husbands and boyfriends. Our customer washrooms had change tables with three sizes of free diapers, wipes and cream. Our change rooms were 50% bigger than our competitors, included four hooks (our competitors gave you one hook) and a magic sign that said: Please take as many items in the change room as you wish! No other fashion store in the world did that.  Their signs said: “Limit three items in the change room!”

Just inside the front door a large sign stated: “Our staff are not on commission. They treat you this well because they love what they do!” What’s every woman’s biggest fear when she walks into a nice clothing store? That the sales people are on commission and they’ll tell you anything to make a sale. Women loved the kindness, the amenities and the commitment to play it straight and thousands of them drove up to three hours to shop in our store.

So, what small things would delight your customers and clearly differentiate you from your competitors?  What has never been done before? What would ‘amazing’ look like? What would ‘joyful’ look like?  What small details, extra help, coaching, kindness, design, convenience,  customer-friendly policies or customer experience ‘perks’ could you offer that would delight your target customers, differentiate your business and grow your bottom line?

It doesn’t have to take three years to figure out or millions of dollars to deliver as it did with Delta Airlines. But it does take insight, creativity and courage. Sit down with some of the best minds and hearts in your business for a couple of hours and think about what it’s like to be one of your target customers at every touch point of doing business with you and using what you sell. What do they value? What are their stresses and concerns? What would amaze and delight them?

Make a decision to be extraordinary, commit to a specific Action Plan, put someone in charge of making it happen, set deadlines and then follow up.  The world is run by those who follow up.

Stearns and Foster
Sealy Canada
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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