Image Source: Instagram / pipes.on.food
These are fun times for airlines, aren’t they?
I would be remiss if I did not point out that it appears British Airways CEO Alex Cruz has not been reading our blog. Last week’s piece, ‘Storytelling in an Emergency’, may have helped him avoid some of those pesky calls for his resignation…
But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We are not even going to talk about the fact that power surges, the supposed cause of the IT blackout, can be planned for and prevented.
No, today is all about the strategy of surprise and delight. What am I talking about? Well have you ever been told you are the millionth customer to visit a shop? Simply, it is the selection of one or more people to receive a free gift or experience from a company, triggering a positive emotional reaction and improving the relationship between the customer. Of course, a nice side-effect is the additional publicity gained from the surprised and delighted customer sharing the good vibes via word of mouth and social media. While BA’s passengers may well have been surprised by their flights being cancelled they are unlikely to have been delighted.
An approach not widely discussed is the reactive approach to the surprise and delight strategy. A customer walks into a shop (the start of a bad joke?) and asks to return a pair of trainers. Normally this may be contested, perhaps the shoes have been worn or the customer has lost the receipt. Imagine the customer’s feeling when they are given a full refund, no questions asked. All that is needed is an approval process and an annual budget. This being done at the company’s discretion, with no expectation from the customer, the budget can be very modest and achieve outsized results.
In the age of online retail, the customer service and personal attention a brick-and-mortar location offers are side-lined. How to distinguish from your competitors? A friend recently bought a pair of sunglasses (summer’s coming, yo) from Mr Porter: a predominantly online seller. With no prior indication, the product arrived with a complimentary handkerchief and a handwritten note emphasising the importance of the customer and thanking them for their purchase. How do I know all this? My friend was blown away by this service to the extent of taking photos and messaging them to me with lots of exclamation marks. Maybe I should find more interesting friends. Either way…
Mr Porter, Araminta Marketing salutes you.
Now why are you still here? Shouldn’t you be out there surprising and delighting people already?