Can we learn something from the b-to-c world?

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Given the state of the economy and the inevitable spending softness that ensues, I’m finding that companies are getting more and more creative in their customer connections. I was struck by a recent example that, while not directly related to our b-to-b world, I felt there was a lesson in there for all of us. There certainly was for me.

When it comes to buying clothes, normally I am an online shopper. I shop online because it’s more efficient for my lifestyle. Why trek around a shopping center when I can plug in my needs online and be served options that I can scan at my leisure and then have shipped to my door?

But recently I received an email luring me to come in to a retail store with the promise of a complimentary “personal style assistant” to help guide me.

They assured me that there would be no pressure. I was definitely a bit skeptical because I’m not normally one to fall for marketing ploys. But I have to admit the offer was intriguing and clearly a great tactic on their part.

Had I shopped online, my purchase would have been around $200. But I left the store after spending more than five times my normal budget. OK, maybe six times. And I promise you, this is not normal behavior for me. I had no intention of spending what I did. However, I left feeling great, without any bit of buyer’s remorse. What did they do?

I have to point out that it wasn’t only the in-store experience that made me a net promoter of this particular business’ efforts. Three days after I left the store, I received a handwritten thank-you from the sales associate that seemed genuinely sincere. She not only thanked me for my purchase but also stated that if for any reason I was unhappy, she’d be more than happy to assist me with any returns. I am still wowed by this behavior.

When I look back on this example, it didn’t cost this company more than about $25 to “acquire” me and by the end of that first visit it more than made up for the investment.

My question to you is: Can we provide the same value that I described above to our customers over the phone and on the Web? Can our respective e-stores, marketing automation platforms and telesales reps deliver value beyond what exists today?

How can we create an extraordinary experience for our customers that drives spend above and beyond our normal average revenue per customer, all the while driving evangelism and repeated usage of our products and services? I think we just need to get a little more creative.

I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to figure out how I can apply this to what I do today.

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