Posts Tagged ‘Zappos’


Set Your Brand Apart: Little Extras Make a Big Difference in Customer Retention

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
The little things add up

The little things add up

Here’s a little dose of reality: no one ever meets the expectations of their customers. You can exceed those needs or your can fall short, and it’s often the little things that add up to make a big difference.

The PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference was held last week, May 4-6, in Key West, Florida. Paula Whittington, VP of agency relations at BurrellesLuce, attended Stan Phelps’s keynote. Phelps, who is the founder of 9 INCH Marketing and the author of the popular Goldfish Trilogy (recently completed with What’s Your Golden Goldfish), discussed all the ways to make the little things add up in your favor to strengthen retention rates.

Phelps pointed out some brands that have good customer retention, like Wells Fargo, which obtains 80 percent of their business from current customers because they frequently upsell more products, making their clients less likely to leave. Another heavyweight in retention and acquisition is Southwest Airlines. During a time when airlines started charging for bags and continuing to charge fees for ticket changes, Southwest advertised free checked bags and no change fees. Finally there’s Zappos, which invests back in its customer experience with free shipping, returns for up to a year, and an easy exchange policy.

Differentiation is about the little things; while 80 percent of companies believe they provide a superior experience, only 8 percent of their customers agree. Here are a few tactics – and real-world examples –  from Phelps for setting your brand apart.

The Throw-In/ Add-on: Throw in something small but restorative to really ramp up customer experience. DoubleTree Hotels offers warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies that make their guests feel welcome.

Sampling: This is the classic ice cream shop tactic, but you can take it to the next level like Izzy’s Ice Cream, which gifts a free scoop of a new flavor to try, and will also tweet or text when a customer’s favorite flavor arrives. Personalization and generosity go a long way in customer acquisition and retention.

First/last impressions: Enhance a client’s experience with first and last impressions. They’re the most lasting and visceral, so don’t overlook them. The Hard Rock Hotel offers Fender guitars and headphones in the rooms, as well as a TV channel featuring guitar lessons.

Pay it forward: Offer to do something nice for people, even if it means doing something for free. Unemployed, but really need your suit cleaned? Plaza Cleaners in Portland, Oregon will clean that suit for free. And Discount Tire will repair a flat tire for nothing. Paying it forward creates goodwill to create loyal future customers.

Add on a service: Like paying it forward, you can also create goodwill by providing more than just a basic service, like Safelite AutoGlass. Not only do they send you a picture of the technician coming to repair your windshield, but they’ll clean and vacuum your car during the ten minutes it takes for the windshield epoxy to harden and cure.

Follow Up: Handwritten thank you notes always go a long way. But it’s easy for follow-ups to slip through the cracks when something goes wrong, and that’s the most vital time to make an overture. Nurse Next Door, a home care service, does this with humble pie: if there’s a mistake, the company owns up to it, and delivers a fresh baked apple pie as an apology. Nurse Next Door estimates that the $1,500 they spend on pies annually saves them about $100,000 in business retention.

At the very least, think of Walt Disney, who in 1957 decided to have a parade in Disneyland every day in December. This cost him the modern-day equivalent of $4 million, and his financial advisors were against the idea, but daily parades survive to this day, the most frequently asked question at Disneyland is “What time does the parade start?”

Tactics that set your brand apart should be a signature product or service of your brand, and really make you different. It might cost you money, but if done right, the benefits will be more of an investment than a cost.

Top BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Posts in 2011 – Numbers 20 to 11

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

iStock_000010469879XSmallAs 2011 winds to a close, no year would be complete without a wrap-up list of some kind. In that spirit, we are counting down the 20 Top BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas posts in 2011. In today’s post we will be highlighting numbers 20 to 11.

Did your favorite Fresh Ideas posts make the list? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know.

20. The Art of Storytelling

19. PRSSA National Conference Speed Networking PR Student Questions

18. How to Speak C-Suite

17. Disappearing Act: 10 Brands That May Not Be Around in 2012

16. The New York Women in Communications 2011 Matrix Awards

15. When a Hashtag Leads to Help: PR Tips from #BlueKey

14. Zappos, 24/7 Customer Service in the Internet Age

13. Oscar’s Social Media Fever

12. Snooki’s Appearance at Rutgers – Good PR or Poor Reputation Management?

11. Poll Results: Should PR Interns Pitch the Media?

Marketing Brand Loyalty: How Far Would You Go?

Monday, November 28th, 2011
Yfrog: the_951

Yfrog: the_951

As I was going through my daily ritual of skimming through my Google Reader and industry headlines, this one caught my eye, “Zappos Founder Launches New Voyeuristic Ecommerce Site.” I figured it was a teaser headline so after only a brief pause, I continued on.  When I saw this one a minute later, “Zappos Founder Wants to Peek in Your Closet.” I knew it was something I had to read!

Nick Swinmurn does want to see what’s in your closet, as do many other marketers and advertisers. According to AdWeek, his new platform RNKD (pronounced ranked) opened to the public (in beta) on Wednesday, November 16th. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Swinmurn said he felt there had to be a better way for vendors to know who their customers are and to create a channel of communication. 

Mashable explains, “The concept is simple: Take pictures of all the things you have in your closet. Tag them by brand and purchase location and get rewards and deals based on your proven likes.”

In a statement to Huffington Post Swinmurn says, “Every consumer has favorite brands and stores they are loyal to, but most have never been recognized or rewarded for their purchases. If you buy more shoes from Nike than anyone else – shouldn’t you be given early access to new lines and different pricing than someone who is trying the product for the first time and may never buy again? ” Swinmurn argued that RNKD, unlike many other social sites, gives people an incentive to share.

There are tiered rewards, presumably to make sure beginners are able to win some deals. Users can earn points, badges and discounts by uploading, “liking,” commenting, or accumulating a particular brand as well as inviting friends and sharing via Twitter and Facebook. There are also individual ranks for the various types of apparel. The user can even peruse other people’s closets to find new brands (although you are able to make your profile private if you prefer).

According to a WSJ blog, the catch right now is that not many brands have jumped onboard yet, and it could be a while before the site reaches the scale that brands really begin to offer discounts.  Currently the site shows users being rewarded based on weekly rankings with gift certificates from Zappos and Dethrone Royalty – two of Swinmurn’s own creations.  The blogger notes brands currently have no control over how their clothing items, shoes, and accessories are being portrayed on RNKD, since the content is user-generated – to which Swinmurn replied, “We’re telling brands, that’s just real life. Here are the $100 shoes in people’s closets, next to the $20 pair, because that’s what people really own.” 

So, as the old BASF tagline goes, “At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.” Swinmurn is betting that RNKD will revolutionize the brand loyalty arena by allowing retailers to offer the biggest discounts to those who deserve them – their biggest fans.

What do you think? Will you whip out your phone (yes, there’s an app for that) and start uploading pictures of what’s in your closet? Do you think Swinmurn is on the right path? I look forward to your feedback!

Zappos: 24/7 Customer Service in the Internet Age

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

24/7 Customer Service in the Internet Age

by Lauren Shapiro*

In the past few years, nearly everything has found its way to the Internet, from ordering your groceries online to ordering a pizza. What we have learned, though, is that the Internet takes out a key component that online shoppers often need – personalized assistance… or at least the option of it. In fact, many online retailers have left their consumers high and dry when they need help navigating their website or have questions about their products. Other brands have gotten creative, however, combining the ease and convenience of online shopping with the option of real-time customer service when needed.

One of the main draws to Zappos.com is the accessibility to a real walking and talking person! While on the Zappos site, you can easily call the 24/7 customer service phone number or opt for live help which will connect you via online chat with a customer service representative. Zappos.com is a prime example of client service gone right. According to venturebeat.com, Zappos grossed over one billion dollars in 2009 and, as cited by cmswire.com, they earned themselves the number 15 spot on Fortune’s 2010 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Their attention to customer service combined with a quality product and strong culture have made Zappos an example for other organizations to follow in 2011.

Zappos isn’t shy about sharing their secrets to success either. Zapposinsights.com provides a unique opportunity to visit the Zappos “family” (as the employees are called), schedule time to tour their facility in Las Vegas and learn about and request your own Zappos Culture Book that outlines Zappos culture, core values, and tips for your own organization.

Zappos puts a strong emphasis on the culture in which their employees thrive. The happiness of the employee then translates to the customer – making for an overall positive experience. Just ask Donavon Roberson, Zappos culture evangelist, or Matt Wong, Zappos audio/video jedi, who make up a portion of the Zappos Insights team.

As we continue to worry about the down trodden economy, the unemployment rate and the many other lackluster things going on – why not take a nod from Zappos.com and put our focus on being creative, thinking outside the box, being positive and being strongly attentive to customer service and internal culture?

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*Bio: Soon after graduating from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, in 2006 with a B.A. in communication and a B.S. in business/marketing, I joined the BurrellesLuce client services team. In 2008, I completed my master’s degree in corporate and organizational communications and now serve as Director of Client Services. I am passionate about researching and understanding the role of email in shaping relationships from a client relation/service standpoint as well as how miscommunication occurs within email, which was the topic of my thesis. Through my posts on Fresh Ideas, I hope to educate and stimulate thoughtful discussions about corporate communications and client relations, further my own knowledge on this subject area, as well as continue to hone my skills as a communicator. Twitter: @_LaurenShapiro_ LinkedIn: laurenrshapiro Facebook: BurrellesLuce