Tag Archives: customer acquisition

Would you like some room for cream?

Call me hopelessly naive about customer service, but there is something about “would you like some room for cream?” question that makes me feel good in a kind of subconscious “they care” way.  Here is why I think it strikes a cord:

  1. It’s not an upsell. They already sold you the coffee, so (at least in my mind) the question is not tied to the commercial transaction. They are not trying to get you to buy something else.
  2. It’s the thought that counts. What if you did decide to add cream and the cup was already full? Ever tried squeezing a plastic lid on a full cup of steaming coffee? Good luck.
  3. It’s engaging. With business transactions getting aggressively depersonalized, a personal touch (albeit a semi-automated one) is appreciated. Yes, the line between overbearing and engaging is a fine one, but here I feel this is well-balanced. I know it’s not a real conversation but it could be a beginning of one.
  4. It’s unexpected. I know I’ve been asked this so many times, but it still feels unexpected and out of ordinary routine. In my mind this is distinctly different from “How are you?”, which we all know is a formulaic greeting and is in no way an indication that the party gives a hoot about how you are actually doing.

Commercially speaking I don’t think this is of any direct value to the coffee shop. Perhaps, there is some product waste reduction and fewer lawsuits from scalded customers, but I bet that’s not why the question is asked. I think it’s asked for the warm and fuzzies, and is a subtle way to let the customer know you value their business and look out for their well-being.

At this point you might be wondering if there is some greater insight here about the evolution of customer service. Not really, but do think about what defines a good customer experience for you personally. This combination of moves works for me:

Find a way to let me know that you care about what happens after the sale is done. Make sure it’s as personal as possible and untainted by the sales pitch. Make it unobtrusive and slightly unexpected.

Then at last I am really sold!

A Thought-provoking Tale of Customer Acquisition

I was thinking about what product I’ve used the longest on a daily (or at least weekly basis), and I realized that in my case this is none other than my trusty  Gillette Mach3 razor. That thing is old and I just haven’t had a chance to replace it, but if I ever get around to it, I will probably go for another Gillette.

Gillette freebie?

I found the razor in the mailbox along with paper spam right around my 18th birthday. I’ve been a satisfied user for 11 years now (I am turning 29 on May 5th, for those wondering about my age), and still I have no idea how Gillette found out that I was turning 18.  However they did it, their customer acquisition kung-fu turned out to be incredibly effective.

I also just learned from Wikipedia that Mach3 was introduced in 1998, so this was a brand new product at the time and it must have been at its promotional peak. The most effective promotion in this case was just to give the razor, which purportedly took some $750 million to develop, away.

As far as I am concerned there is no real product differentiation among razor manufacturers, it’s more of a force of habit — once you go with one, chances are you’ll stay with that one forever. So what better way to acquire customers than to send them a free razor when they are most likely to be making a decision that could spell lifetime loyalty to Gillette brand?

Now let me turn the question around and ask you what products you’ve used the longest and how did you end up sticking with them for so long? I would love to hear your stories.