Friday, July 26, 2013

Making their day by making it personal

Coppertone Towel - JEPoland
Why does the process of work have to be so serious?  You are not a robot, and neither is the individual on the other end of the transaction.  Products and services matter, processes matter, but ultimately what matters most are the emotions of the people on both ends of transactions.  Customer loyalty is, of course, all about the relationship, and that's personal.  Follow the metrics all you want, but when you go upstream all of the way to find out what causes success or failure, it's all about the relationship.

A few days ago a Coppertone rep was delivering a hand truckload of product to the CVS store along Route 26 in Bethany Beach, DE.  It had been a sunny week during the height of the rental season, so his products were flying off the shelves.  As he was stacking the last couple of boxes on his cart out in the parking lot, a car pulled in only one space away from him.  And the rep was startled by the driver winding down his window and calling to him, "You'll never believe what my wife just said I should do to you!"  (Huh?)  The rep didn't know what to say, so he just stood there, slightly slack-jawed.

As he climbed out of his car, the man delivered the punchline: "My wife told me that I should knock you down and take all of your stuff!"    The rep could see the spouse in the car, laughing.  Apparently this was not a threat, but just a couple of vacationers carrying on.  They must really like Coppertone.  Besides, if they really meant to rob him they wouldn't have given him a heads up.  And they probably wouldn't be driving in a family van with beach stickers and swim team magnets on it.  So he reached into the front seat of his company van, pulled out a Coppertone towel, and tossed it through the driver's window to the woman sitting in there.  Now she was the one slightly slack-jawed.

The vacationer walked into the CVS alongside the Coppertone rep, and the rep gave him a Coppertone coupon for $1 off his purchase.  He also told the guy that the best deal was the two-pack of the Sport Spray, of course transformed into an even better deal with the addition of the coupon.  The vacationer paid for his Coppertone and headed for his car while the rep unloaded his stock.

Back in the family van, the vacationer told his wife what happened inside the store.  She smiled, shaking her head in mild disbelief, amazed that her smart-alec remark, tossed off as a joke on the way to the CVS to buy sunscreen, managed to score an official beach towel and a coupon for the product she and her husband drove to the store to buy.

What's the moral to this story?  Perhaps we'll do it in the form of the epilogue...

The wife returned to the beach house her family was renting for the week, and told the story to twelve other family members that were there for dinner that evening.  She and her husband tweeted about the story to a few thousand followers.  And now there's a blog post that will go who-knows-where and will stay on the Internet until somebody takes it down.  The blog post will be tweeted and probably retweeted until it reaches a few thousand more followers, and if other blog posts from this site are any indication, this story about the Coppertone rep will be read from the US to England and Canada, to China, Russia, Croatia, Norway and beyond.

Not a bad two minutes of quick thinking on the part of that Coppertone rep, eh?  He created a story about his product that will be told over and over again.  It would be great if his boss would see this post...

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