I Tried to Shop Local

A few weeks ago I had decided to buy a new paella pan, thirteen inches of gleaming stainless steel. I had seen what I wanted at national kitchen stores like Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma in other cities, but since those stores don’t have outlets here in Sioux Falls I sought to find it locally.

My first stop was a downtown kitchen specialty store that sells the All-Clad brand I was looking for. They didn’t have it stock. No worries, if I can’t get it there, several national chains with stores here in town carry the brand, so I’ll try there. Alas, I struck out at Macy’s, Yonkers and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

So I went back to that small local retailer and asked if they could order it for me. I explained that I knew I could get it online but if I could support a local small business I would. They were my first choice. The woman at the counter took all of my contact information and carefully wrote down what I wanted and promised to pass it on to the store owner.

Two weeks passed and I hadn’t heard anything, so I stopped in the store again. The woman working knew who I was and she had heard them talking about my order but didn’t know the details. She again wrote down my contact info and promised to call me when the store owner arrived, which should only be a few minutes. About 4 hours later she called to tell me that they could order the pan, but it would take at least 3 to 6 weeks to arrive and they couldn’t really promise if I would get it even then. No thanks. I’ll get it somewhere else. So much for trying to shop local.

That afternoon I logged into the Zappo’s app on my iPad, typed a few words and a 13 inch All-Clad Stainless Steel Paella Pan was on its way to me.  That was on a Saturday afternoon. The product arrived at my office Monday afternoon. No charge for the shipping and I actually saved about 10% off the retail price.

So here’s my question, if you were that small retailer and you knew a good customer wanted something, and they preferred to buy it from you, why wouldn’t you do everything you could to get it for them? I think if I owned that little shop, I would have ordered it from Zappo’s, marked it up 10% (back to the regular retail price) and sold it the customer. But that’s just me. Trying to keep the customer satisfied.

If she had done that, this post would have been about how great her service was and I would have named her and her store. As it is, I’ll give the glory to Zappo’s.

– Jim

Forget Comcast & Zappos – Let’s Help OUR Clients Shine

ZapposAs someone who has read plenty of marketing/social media blog posts and seen quite a few conference presentations and keynotes, I’m starting to get a little frustrated. Why? Because it seems like the ONLY examples of “great customer service through social media” that presenters have used over the past two years are Comcast and Zappos.

I recently watched yet another webinar in which those examples were used. Funny to me is the fact that Comcast has been used as an example for so long that Frank Eliason – the guy most people refer to in presentations for building Comcast’s online customer service reputation – doesn’t even work for them anymore.

So, if Comcast and Zappos are ALWAYS referenced in the presentations and keynotes of the “top” social media and marketing experts, why don’t those same experts have their own clients who have done praiseworthy work? If a marketer can pinpoint what it is that makes a company’s customer service remarkable, why aren’t his or her clients able to put that insight to good use?

As marketers, let’s spend less time citing worn out examples and more time making our clients stand out. Less time repeating what everyone else has said for the past 24 months and more time helping our clients become the nextworn-out examples of excellence.

There’s nothing wrong with citing a nationally-renowned example to make a point in our presentations. But if we can’t also mention our own client’s similar success in the same (or at least a similar) context, we’re not really proving our expertise.

It’s great to recognize examples of great work or great customer service. Let’s just make sure we can also help our clients provide an exemplary level of great work and great customer service.

Sound like a plan? Awesome.

-Mike B.

Photo by Nate Ritter. Thanks Nate!