#7 of the 12 different types of Purple Goldfish (Thank You’s) – Chapter 18


Share on LinkedIn

[Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing excerpts as we work towards completing the manuscript for ‘What’s Your Purple Goldfish?’. Today is Chapter 18, the seventh of the 12 different types of Purple Goldfish]

Following up and saying ‘Thank You’

After covering six ‘value’ PG’s, this chapter marks the first type of ‘maintenance’ focused Purple Goldfish. The seventh Purple Goldifsh is the expression of ‘thanks’ to a customer. A personal gesture that conveys both appreciation and acknowledgement.

Let’s look at 7 examples:

The power of the pen… and some stickers


#770 in Project comes courtesy of Gary Vaynerchuk’s and his book, Thank You Economy.

Gary talks about Wufoo, the online HTML form developer sends handwritten thank you notes, sometimes crafted out of construction paper and decorated with stickers:

A simple way to ‘Hug Your Customers’

#805. Taken from a tweet by Annette Franz @annettefranz

Annette cites 1to1 media’s post on Mitchells by Ginger Conlon:

When was the last time you personally thanked a customer? Sent a hand-written note? Last year Jack Mitchell wrote 1,793 personal notes to customers of his retail stores. That’s about five notes a day, every day.

jack mitchell thank you

Mitchell is CEO of The Mitchells Family of Stores, which owns several high-end retail stores, including Marsh, Mitchells, and Richards–and is author of Hug Your Customers. He spoke at the Conference Board Customer Experience Leadership Conference about connecting with customers on a more personal level.

Every touchpoint, every interaction, every detail–these are all opportunities to connect with customers in way that creates engagement and builds retention. “It can be something as simple as a smile,” Mitchell said. “It’s about making a human connection. Connections are ‘hugs.’ And hugs create loyalty.”

So do great people, he said. Great product is a given; personalized service is where you can really make a difference. So the company looks for people who are honest, positive, competent, and nice, and have a passion to listen, learn, and grow. The retailer retains and engages it employees by using them in catalogs and ads, and by providing them with the product and customer information they need to deliver outstanding service. Also, there’s no commission, which encourages collaboration. “It [all] helps to increase their commitment to customer service,” he said.

A technology backbone is the third leg of the customer experience stool. The company has tracked every purchase by SKU since 1989, and as a result, has a comprehensive database of customers’ product and channel preferences–and knows exactly who its top customers are, by spend. The company uses the information to create personalized mailings, send relevant event invitations (e.g., trunk shows), and the like.

This blended high-touch, high-tech approach helps keep customers right where Mitchell wants them–at center of the company’s universe–because customer centricity, he said, is profitable. In fact, 72 percent of the retailer’s merchandise is sold at full price. “Focus on what’s most important,” he said. “Customers.”

Save the date stickers are an added touch

metropolis performing arts center

#332 in the Project comes via a subscriber of the Metropolis Performing Arts Center:

“We have season tickets to our local theater, Metropolis Performing Arts in Arlington Heights, IL. When we receive the tickets in the mail, included are round Metroplis stickers that I can use to put on my calendar to remember our theater nights.”

A little thoughtful personal touch from the Captain

#710 and #711 in the Project is taken from a blogpost by Ivan Misner:

In Ivan’s words:

“Long lines, deteriorating service, flight attendants grabbing a beer and pulling the emergency exit handle to slide out onto the tarmac are part of our vision of airlines these days.

However, I had an experience last week that was truly amazing in this day and age.


My wife and I were flying on United from LAX to New Orleans for a business conference. Before we were about to land, Rebecca, the flight attendant, handed me a business card from the Captain. His name is Patrick Fletcher. On the back of Captain Fletcher’s card was a handwritten note that said:

Flight 139, January 19, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Misner,

It’s great to have you both with us today – Welcome! I hope you have a great visit to New Orleans – we really appreciate your business!


Pat Fletcher

Rebecca (who was a great flight attendant, by the way), told me the Captain wrote these notes to everyone who was a member of their premier level frequent flier club as well as all the 1st class passengers. On this day, that was around 12 people. She said he is great to fly with because he really treats the passengers AND the crew very well, mentioning that he had brought scones to all of them that morning.

I fly A LOT. In the last 20 years, I’ve probably traveled on over 800 flights all around the world. In that time, I’ve never received a personal note from the Captain.

Entrepreneurs and major corporations alike can learn from this story. Personal service that goes above and beyond the call of duty, can generate great word of mouth.

Captain Fletcher – my hat’s off to you. Well done. I think this is a great example of how one person in a really large company can make a difference in a customer’s attitude. Your note was creative and appreciated. I hope to be flying with you again.

The Follow Up call is a little thing that makes a big difference

#365 in the Project was suggested by Barry Dalton of Customer Service Stories

rite aid

Barry referenced a post from Kristina Evey. Here is an excerpt from Kristina:

“I love being a mom more than anything else in the whole world, even chocolate. But, one of the things I dread as a mom is getting that phone call from school informing me that one of my children has “Pinkeye.” So, last Tuesday, I picked up my daughter from school and headed to the doctor’s office for the diagnosis that I already knew was coming and then to the drug store to pick up the prescription drops.

Now, putting drops into the eyes of a six year old is no easy feat. Especially when that six year old has decided that she is a drama queen and is going to milk the situation for all it is worth. When I picked up the drops, the pharmacist at Rite Aid suggested some methods for administering the drops that might make it easier and less stressful. Nonetheless, the suggested methods were just as torturous as me literally sitting on my daughter and squirting the drops in her eyes.

However, after two days of drops every four hours, my daughter and I came to a point where we did try the pharmacist’s suggestion and were able to administer the drops with no drama at all.

So, this is a pretty mundane situation. Nothing really noteworthy.

Until………. we get the call from the pharmacist two days later asking how my daughter’s eye infection is doing and if we had any problems administering the eye drops. No, this wasn’t a call from the doctor’s office. It was the pharmacist from Rite Aid delivering excellent customer service. She was taking the time and interest to call and see how the treatment was working, if we had encountered any problems, and if we had any questions she could answer. She was connecting with me, the customer. The business transaction, for all practical purposes, was complete. She was following up to nurture the relationship. That’s effectively managing the customer experience. Now, they may have designed this into the process at Rite Aid. But that’s the point – they design a positive customer experience into their plans.

This really might not seem like a big deal, until you think about how often this doesn’t happen. How many times do you receive a follow up phone call from the provider of the product or service you purchased from to see if there was anything they could help you with? I’ll bet it’s less often than you think.

The noticeable thing is that it wasn’t the physician who treated her, or even that office. I paid them much more for the physician’s time and diagnosis than I did the drug store for the drops.

Customer satisfaction comes from the extra step that we put on to our delivery of service. I was happy just to leave the pharmacy with the drops I needed and the fact that they were nice and pleasant to me. I’m delighted that they called to follow up. Even though I know I may pay a little more to go to Rite Aid, the fact that I received that follow up call tells me they care about my business.”

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: We’ve seen the follow up call cited a couple of times in the Project. It’s a smart move for the following reasons:

  1. Demonstrates you care – The transaction isn’t over when money is exchanged. It shows the customer that you are concerned about their satisfaction.
  2. Low cost – This is something that can be done by the pharmacist or business owner during a lull in the ordinary course of business.
  3. Troubleshooting – The vast majority of people will not complain. Following up allows you to correct any service issues and extend the life of your customer relationships.

Making it Personal

capital grille birthday greeting

#438. Capital Grill – “Personalized cards from the servers. They make an effort to get to know their customers. They want you to build a relationship with your server.”

A nice segway into #476 in the Purple Goldfish Project submitted by James Sorensen @expertinservice:

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

“My aunt recently required outpatient surgery at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge when my aunt and I arrived we were greeted by a receptionist with a smile, met with the insurance coordinator who thoroughly explained the insurance coverage spoke with the nurse that took extra time to make sure my aunt was comfortable and finally the doctor whom she has grown to trust over the years.

After the surgery, when I arrived to pick up my aunt a volunteer from the hospital was waiting in front with my aunt and graciously helped her into my car. We stopped by a local restaurant for lunch and my aunt showed me her discharge paperwork along with a card that read “I hope your visit today was excellent.” I thought to myself that’s nice gesture, but a big surprise awaited us when my aunt opened the card and found it was hand signed by people she was in contact with that day.

What a great example of how the health-care system is utilizing unique ways of reaching out to their patients by showing compassion and delivering a memorable experience.”

A little proactive extra from Shui Tea

#593 was submitted to the Purple Goldfish Project via tweet by Paul Tracy. In Paul’s words:

shui teaOK, I have to admit that I’ve been a fan of Shui Tea for some time. I don’t even remember how I stumbled across his website or why I made my first order from Shui Tea. Maybe it was the subtly irreverent attitude of the purveyor that just meshed with my personality or the product descriptions on the website.

Regardless, I’ve been really happy with the quality of the tea that I’ve ordered from him and have placed a few orders. I’m relatively new to tea, but have been recording my tea reviews on this website called Steepster for a few months. I tend to be brutally truthful and in all honesty, I have really enjoyed everything I have ordered from Shui Tea.

Today, I received an e-mail from the owner of Shui Tea that had, in part, the following: “I wanted to thank you for sharing so much about Shui Tea on Steepster and online. I just put a $10 store credit on your account to use if you order again. No expiration, and feel free to use it anytime and with other coupons you might see in e-mails or on Twitter.” I took advantage of the generous offer immediately because there were already a number of new items from Shui Tea that I wanted to try.

The whole purpose of this post is to point out what a customer service and marketing genius the owner of Shui Tea has revealed himself to be. I was already a devoted fan of his brand. Through a very short and simple, yet personal, contact he has secured a customer for life. If there are ever any issues in the future (which I don’t expect but can happen) I’ll be more than willing to forgive them given the treatment he’s afforded me to date.”

In business, providing superb customer service and delivering lagniappe is like putting money into the bank. You are building up credit with your customers. As Paul eluded to above, if and when an issue arises you will be given leeway due to the goodwill you’ve earned.

Know Your Customers

#336 in the Project comes from Marty Desmond. Marty left a comment on Kelly Ketelboeter’s post, ‘What is Your Purple Goldfish’

gumba's sunnyvale

Gumba’s on Murphy Street in Sunnyvale, CA

“I went for breakfast, with friends, at one of our favorite places Saturday. We sat outdoors for the first time since street construction began months ago. As we were served, I watched how much fun the employees were having. I told my friends that it was great seeing the restaurant busy again and that I knew the construction hurt much of the business on that block.

I went back Tuesday evening for a quick dinner. As I was eating, the owner came up, patted me on the back and thanked me for my business Saturday morning. Then, he told me how happy he was to see my friends and inquired about them. He asked if the dad had found another job, knowing that he was laid off months ago.

We talked for a few moments more, and then he patted me on the back again, thanked me once more and walked off. I watched him walk away and thought about why I enjoyed that restaurant so much. The food is great, but it’s the experience that makes it worth going back.

I realize that no fewer than 4 of his employees approached my friend to tell them how much they had missed his family. The culture of that business includes personal relationships whenever possible. I think that is a missing ingredient in so many businesses today.

This restaurant has endured 6 months of lagging sales, due to people wanting to stay away during construction. Yet, they were genuinely concerned about the lives of the people who walked through their doors. To me, every question of “how is your friend” is a purple goldfish.”

[Next Up is Chapter 19. ‘Added Service’ – the eighth of 12 different types of purple goldfish]

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra for good measure) – great interview with Jack Mitchell by Ludlow & Kramer:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here