- Guy Kawasaki –
I love Valentine’s Day, I love Valentine’s Day, I love Valentine’s Day!
It is not just the romantic dinner with my true love, it is not just the smell of chocolate on the streets and it is not even the special present I receive every year (although, if you read it now, and you know who you are! Do not stop with your beautiful gifts and greeting cards), it is a day in which I get a chance to delight my clients.
Valentine’s Day is a special day for any chocolate store owner. It is the fourth busiest day for candy and chocolate store owners. So you can definitely understand my excitement. This year my day started at 4 am, I wanted to make sure my little store is in perfect condition, all the unique chocolate boxes are at the front, and the shelves are organized and inviting. I opened a few chocolate boxes to create the oh so tempting smell, and made sure I have enough cocoa to create my special hot chocolate.
And I was waiting to see all these special people who, for one day a year have the opportunity to delight their loved ones. I love Valentine’s Day, I can see and speak with many people whom I have not seen for months (and sometimes years), and it is also fun to see people who are happier than usual.
But the most important thing on Valentine’s Day is that on this day I have the opportunity to delight my clients. When a client enter my store, they expect to buy chocolate, they expect to find a unique item, they expect to drink yummy hot chocolate, and they expect to have a friendly person to take their order. This is their expectations. Doing all that is only the first step, it is what my clients expect and what I need to deliver. Many business owners will stop at this point thinking that they delivered a great product and service and they did their part. Of course the client will come back, why not? The product is great, I was polite. I did exactly what they expected. Of course they will come back!
You see, providing just the expected is not enough anymore, your clients have choices, there are many chocolate stores to choose from, there are many web sites to buy from, there are many lawyers to choose from, there are many movies to choose from, there are many, many, many alternatives. How can you shine? How can your business be the alternative?
The way to be the alternative is by differentiating your business, your product or your service from all the other alternatives. It is not a one time activity, it is a life long pursuit, it is an amazing and rewarding way to live your business life.
Charlie and I spoke for many years about competitive advantages and creating the differentiation in your clients’ minds, I promise to write much more about it in the future. However, for now let me just tell you a story on how I was honored to create this distinction in my clients’ minds.
Since I was a little girl, standing next to a lemonade stand with my friend Jenny, I knew I wanted to know more about my clients. I wanted to know which ones like their lemonade extra sweet and which ones have to have a cookie with it. I wanted to know why Mrs. Less always wanted more than one cup. I wanted to know why Mr. Joe always looked so sad. I wanted to know why the kids up the street always laughed at us while sending their little brother to buy 5 cups.
You see, you want to get to know your clients, it sounds so simple. Of course it makes sense. If you get to know your clients, you can provide them with a product or service that will not just satisfy their needs, it will delight them. They will experience this WOW moment. This is what I am looking for on Valentine’s Day, I am looking for the special amazement look on their faces.
Oops, that wasn’t the story, now to my story I promised, Mr. Al is a very nice old guy, he might be 80 years old and every year he buys a special Brazilian dark chocolate heart shaped chocolate box, it is one of my best selling items. Mr. Al always comes at 12 pm with a small plastic bag (inside there is a greeting card), and shyly goes to the second shelf which holds “his” chocolate box. He does not speak much, just a simple “Elizabeth loves these chocolates”, he then pays with his credit card and leaves.
This year Mr. Al was late, it was already 2 pm, and only 5 boxes of Mr. Al’s chocolate were left on the shelf. Jenny, who always helps me on Valentine’s Day looked at me. I looked at the shelf and back at Jenny…we knew what we needed to do. We took one of the Brazilian dark chocolate boxes off the shelf and put it aside.
The day was very successful, not only did I sell 25% more than last year (measuring is a key to business success!) but I got to know many more people, I have some new ideas on how to delight new people, I know more birth dates, wedding plans and business events. Delighting your client is a life long pursuit of gathering small details about your clients. It is a life long journey of realizing what can create the wow moment for them.
Jenny and I closed the store at 9 pm, I called my husband and told him I will be home 30 minutes late, he knew I was up to something and just said “go and make the world better Liz”.
Jenny and I took the heart shape Brazilian dark chocolate box, and went to Mr. Al’s house (we retrieved his home address from his credit card information). It was a nice little house with white fence, the house was mostly dark, except for a dim light in one of the rooms. I knocked on the door. A few seconds past and then an older lady opened the door, I knew she was alone. I knew Mr. Al will never come back to my store, I asked her “Are you Elizabeth?” she nodded, Jenny took out the chocolate box and I said “I know Mr. Al can’t come anymore, but I know he still thinks of you”, Jenny handed her the chocolate box…
Delighting your clients is your mission, what have you done today to delight your clients?