Archives for July 2009

Oriental Trading delivered my psychic pizza

I was first introduced to the term “Psychic Pizza” by John Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service and Vice Chariman of TARP, a customer strategy consultancy. So what is psychic pizza? John defines it as follows:

You’re sitting on your couch thinking about what to have for dinner. The door bell rings and its the pizza delivery guy who say’s ‘here is the pizza you were about to order’ Anticipation of customer needs & wants is one of the tenents at the core of delivering exceptional customer experience, according to Goodman. While it’s hard to argue this concept in theory, you might wonder how this translates into practice. And, when translated, does it really have that great an impact on the customer experience? Until yesterday, I was a skeptic. Skeptical, not that it could be done, but about the impact.

Oriental Trading is a catalog/on line retailer that sells party supplies, art and teaching supplies, crafts and novelties. For my son’s 2nd birthday party last August, we ordered a variety of items to pull off a rock and roll-themed shindig. It ended up being a sizeable shipment of blow up guitars, saxophones, microphones, streamers, balloons, plastic silverware (oxymoron?), plates…you get the idea. Yesterday, a representative from Oriental Trading called my home with the following greeting: “…We noticed that you placed a sizeable order last year around this time for rock-and-roll themed party supplies. We would like to offer our assistance in planning this year’s event. We have added to our rock and roll collection and have added a number of other themes to our party store. One of our representatives would be happy to help you with everything you need to make your party a success. We can be reached at….”

I don’t remember telling them this was for a birthday party. But if I did, they noted it. Even if I didn’t and this was not a recurring event, would there be any negative to making that assumption based on what I ordered? I would not have perceived it that way.

So, was it simple to do? Sure! Any contact management/CRM system can support this process. The payback in terms of my delight, that will now translate into a new order and positive word of mouth? Significant.

It begs the question. If it’s this simple to deliver psychic pizza; and the return is so great, why don’t more companies anticipate customer desires as a core strategy for value creation?

BT rethinks customer service

Against the better advice of a well respected Forrester colleague, I’m going to use this post to simply repost a blog from @wecandobiz. BT has taken a page from Comcast’s playbook and begun to leverage social web as a CRM channel not just for PR/brand management

Is the car buying experience really this contentious?

So, I’ve spent more than one post here railing about car dealership experiences. But, I had to comment on an article I read on MSN “Worst Dealer Scams”, and more about the reader comments that followed.

The discussion board asked the question “Have you ever been scammed by a car dealer?” The posts on the consumer side were expected. Everybody has a story, either personal or from a friend, about paying too much, the finance manager, the closer, open ended contracts, add-ons, the list goes on. But what I didn’t expect to read was the tone of the posts from the people that sell or have sold cars. Almost to a person, and I read over 50 posts, the sentiment from car sales people is that customers are a pain in the ass, they want everything for free, customers suck and; a few went so far as to blame customers for the demise of the auto industry, because they’ve been so ‘unfair’ in negotiations as to make it unprofitable to be in the car business. That’s right! Customers are the root cause of the failure of the American auto industry! Not poor quality, unsustainable union contracts, inefficiency or designs nobody wants. Its the customers!

The visceral level of real hatred, in some cases, of customers was mind-numbing. And it wasn’t just a rogue post. It was a pretty consistent theme.

So, the next time you’re in the market for a car, you evil killers of American iconic industries, remember, car guys are “just trying to make an honest living”. Be gentle.