Working for a retailer, I am often in research mode when running personal errands or doing my own shopping. I guess it’s pretty natural when you like your job to be on the lookout for insights or ideas that you can bring back to your gig. In particular, I keep an eye out for stores or restaurants do something that catches me off guard and makes an impression. John Moore over at the Brand Autopsy marketing consultancy has his own take on this when he describes “Talkable Brands.”
The last couple of weeks I had some experiences that were similar in their approach and their payoff. Simply put, these places added a slight wrinkle to the end of my transactions – a wrinkle that made me look back and feel good that I gave these places my business.
My wife and I are crazy dog lovers. And even though we live in Minneapolis, we still visit the folks over at the Grand Ave Veterinary Center in Saint Paul. The doctors are fantastic and we love their approach to canine medicine. But one of the small touches that we love comes after we paid the bill. On the top of every receipt we get from the vet’s office is a picture of our dogs from when we first visited the office with them in tow. In our case, this was when our dogs were both puppies. So even after an expensive trip to the vet, I’m greeted at the top of my bill with a super cute picture of my favorite creatures.
Earlier in the week I stopped by the Aveda store to get something. (Feel free to start giving me a hard time…I’m not above making fun of myself for shopping there.) When making my purchase the sales associate gave me a couple a product samples. That was nice and all. Then after the transaction, she could have easily have just handed me my products in a bag over the counter. Just like any other store. But instead, she stepped out from behind the counter, walked up to me and handed me my purchase. This wasn’t a big gesture, but it struck me as more personal…more human. And that’s not something you get every time you buy something.
After having dinner with some friends in Saint Paul, Leslie and I stopped by our favorite ice cream place on the way home: Izzy’s Ice Cream. Izzy’s has a bunch of cool things going for it. Foremost, the ice cream is fantastic. They also do other things like track their ice cream inventory with RFID chips and when they swap new flavors in-and-out, they share that news instantly on Twitter. And they are pretty serious about being green; they invested heavily in clean energy by installing solar panels on the roof of their building which helps power their facility. But my favorite thing about this place is the Izzy Scoop. What is it? The Izzy Scoop is an additional mini scoop of ice cream (that is free of charge) on top of any order. A single scoop is now almost a double scoop; a double scoop is now almost a triple scoop. And you can pick any flavor you want. You can be traditional and put vanilla on top of that chocolate ice cream, or you can choose a flavor that you normally wouldn’t select like Norwegian Chai (which is a new favorite of mine). And because Izzy’s Ice Cream is so good, you feel like you’re playing with house money. You didn’t have to pay for the Izzy Scoop – you come out the winner. The brilliant thing about the Izzy Scoop is it one of the last things you order but it is the first thing you get to eat when you’re walking out the door.
These are only a few examples that I have seen of late, but I think these kind of special touches that happen at the end of a shopping excursion or at the end of a purchase transaction can create a lasting impression. Yes, it’s likely easier to do on a smaller scale and can be more difficult to implement at companies that are large in scale. But I can’t help but wonder how consumer experiences would be improved if more places offered their own version of an Izzy Scoop.