When Is The Last Time You Surprised Your Customers?

Friday, 31 July 2009 13:49 by kpotvin

Earlier this week, I posted a story from The New York Times about new research showing that Americans appreciate free stuff, like a surprise cup of coffee.

Well, yesterday, I got surprise brownies (last post about brownies for awhile, I promise) and they made my day.  The package came from one of my favorite places:  Dancing Deer Baking Company as a thank you for filling out a survey for them.  Now I am a long-time admirer and customer of Dancing Deer.  Not only do they offer delicious all-natural goodies but they know how to build a brand.  I love their products, philanthropy and personality so when the recent survey came across my desk, I was happy to oblige for no other reason than that I want to see them prosper.

They didn’t have to do a thing as follow up.  In fact, I forgot I even filled out the survey.  Yet they used this simple gesture to solidify a relationship with a good customer.  Thanks Sarah Nichols and all The Deers for a sweet treat!

What are surprising ways that you can share the love with your customers? 

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Metaphors for Business

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 10:15 by kpotvin

Here are two recent examples of how using seemingly unrelated subjects like bike riding or card playing can effectively convey valuable business lessons.First, read this interview with Annie Duke, professional poker player recently seen on The Celebrity Apprentice.  She speaks with USA Today management reporter Del Jones about parallels between playing poker and conducting business.  Think bluffing, negotiation, perceptions, risk and more.

Second, best-selling author Seth Godin writes about business lessons learned from riding a bike.  He says, “It’s very difficult to improve your performance on the downhills.”  He uses this as an effective metaphor for why tough times (difficult circumstances, the unexpected, poor economy) often provide the most significant opportunities.

Trying to convey a business lesson or philosophy to employees, customers or others?  Use a metaphor.

 

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Find I-Shaped People for Innovation

Monday, 20 July 2009 07:56 by kpotvin

Bill Buxton, Principal Scientist at Microsoft, and author of Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, proposes an intriguing model for innovation.  In a recent BusinessWeek column, he suggests that I-shaped people are desired for an effective cross-functional team.  Buxton explains:  These have their feet firmly planted in the mud of the practical world, and yet stretch far enough to stick their head in the clouds when they need to. Furthermore, they simultaneously span all of the space in between.”  Buxton wrote that this idea came together for him when he asked Brian Shackel, one of the early pioneers of human-centered design, if he had noticed any particular attributes that distinguished the students that went on to do remarkable things compared with the rest.  Shackel’s answer:  "The outstanding students all had an outstanding capacity for abstract thinking, yet they also had a really strong grounding in physical materials and tools."  Do you have an I-Team?

 

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If Life Doesn’t Give You Enough Sugar, Think Creatively

Saturday, 11 July 2009 13:06 by kpotvin

Today was a good day for making brownies. We were expecting guests this weekend and I also wanted to bring a meal to a neighbor.  Plus I had a brand new brownie recipe I wanted to try.  I was half-way through the recipe when I realized I didn’t have enough sugar.  Now I am the type to always have a stocked pantry so how I ended up without a replacement package is a mystery.  Still, I was ½ a cup short.  A store run was out of the question and, while I did consider asking a neighbor for the proverbial cup of sugar, I dismissed that idea too.  I searched the cabinet for a solution.  Substitute brown sugar?  Throw in some chocolate chips to sweeten the mix?  Then I spotted a box of individual sugar packages left over from a holiday party.  I ripped open the tiny packages – maybe 30 – and added them to my measuring cup.  Success!

The unexpected happens in business too.  Despite good planning you overlook one element needed to complete a project.  Sometimes circumstances change and you have to adjust your direction.  Or maybe your budget got slashed…but you still must deliver a new product.  That’s when you need to be adaptable.   Think about your desired end result, look at your options and brainstorm new ways to get there.  Life may not always give you enough sugar, but if you think creatively, there’s always a way to make delicious brownies.

P.S.  My son said they are the best brownies I ever made.  Here’s the recipe - scroll down for Firehouse Brownies.

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Categories:   Creativity | General
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