Dunkin…One Hot Brand

Dunkin

Some time when I was around 5 or 6 years old my grandmother let me try my first sip of coffee.  She brewed it in a small tin percolator on the stove and I remember how the aroma of the coffee filled the house.  She put a touch of cream in a small cup, slid it across the table, and wa-la…a coffee enthusiast was born!

Dunkin has been my go-to brand for as long as I can remember.  It’s where I go to think, sometimes to work, sometimes to write, and other times to hang out.  It’s a special place I go to with my dad when we’re together, to chat and spend time with one another.  Dunkin has become a comfortable part of my life.  How did they do it?

The Marketing team at Dunkin works overtime to stay connected with their customer.  From determining new menu items, to the appropriate temperature at which they serve their coffee, Dunkin stays close to their customers thoughts.

By delivering on their brand promise every day, Dunkin has created a trusted brand that represents consistency, dependability, and commitment.  “YOUR COFFEE JUST RIGHT, EVERY TIME.” That’s a commitment.

The Dunkin I frequent in Jamison, PA is staffed by an incredibly friendly team of service professionals.  While some would argue that qwik-serve establishments are far from employing service professionals I’d argue against that position every day of the week when it comes to Dunkin.  Traveling more than 100,000 domestic miles every year since 1997, I can confidently say I’ve been in hundreds of Dunkin locations across the country.  My coffee, and the experience by which it was delivered, keeps me coming back.

Typical elements that are included in measuring a customers experience with a brand seem to have been mastered by Dunkin.  Clean stores, hot coffee, comfortable gathering spaces, WiFi, quick and friendly service, a killer app that rewards you for your business, well lit stores at any hour of the day, and great presentation of their baked goods are all things that have helped create a dominant Dunkin brand.

When you look at your brand, do you know what your customers judge you on?  What are the elements surrounding their experience with your company that you need to pay attention to?  Do you know?  If not, it is probably time you engage in some deep buyer journey work to better understand what your buyer goes through in order to arrive at their buying decision.  Rest assured Dunkin has.

Operating nearly half the number of stores as Starbucks, its largest competitor, Dunkin still controls 24% of the coffee market compared to Starbucks 36%. Dunkin reports selling nearly 2 billion cups of coffee each year.  Starbucks has elected to not disclose their number.

Dunkin’s growth will no doubt continue providing they keep their eye on their brand promise.  Assuming they do, I can guarantee them I’ll be returning every day for my medium hot coffee with cream.  Keep on runnin Dunkin!

DunkinJoe

Consistency: The not-so-secret ingredient to building a strong brand

consistency-is-key

If I were to ask you to name your favorite brand what would you say?  What metric or definitions would you use to acknowledge those companies whose brands rise to the top?

Brand building is big work.  Heavy work.  Time consuming work.  It takes patience, curiosity, interest, a willingness to listen, a willingness to act, a conscious effort to deliver what you promise day in and day out.  Yes, a brand is simply that…a promise.

Chances are your favorite brands may do many things well, but there’s one thing I bet they do better than all the others.  I’ll bet your favorite brands deliver what they promise consistently.  Not 70% of the time, or 80% of the time, but 10 out of 10 times you get exactly the experience you’ve come to expect.  It’s exactly the reason you keep going back.  It’s THE reason it’s your favorite brand .

Consistency is the little, but not so secret, ingredient of successful brandsDunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and Wawa deliver great coffee all the time.  Apple delivers quality products for home, work, or on the go, that are easy to use and deliver what’s promised.  The gym I go to is always so clean you could eat off the floors which says a lot for a gym!  I drive 23 miles to take my car to a Cadillac dealership when there is a Caddy dealer 4 miles from my home.  Why?  They always recognize me by name, their waiting area is ultra-comfortable with TV, work stations and high-speed internet, not to mention their  “Nordstrom-like” restrooms.  Speaking of Nordstrom, their service is remarkable each and every time.  Whether you’re buying a brand name shirt, or one that carries John Nordstrom’s name, you can rest assured you’ve purchased something of quality.

We all have examples of our favorite brands.  What’s funny is how many companies I’ve experienced where paying attention to those little things is viewed as more of a luxury than a requirement.  Dunkin didn’t get the reputation for great coffee by accident.  They didn’t say “it doesn’t matter where we get our beans from or what type of equipment we use to brew it”.  They are all about those coffee details.  Nordstrom’s didn’t develop its reputation as service workhorse by giving customers a hard time when an item didn’t fit, work, or hold up as expected.  And for those of you privileged enough to live in a city where Wegmans operates you know how consistent their delivery of remarkable service is.  Wegmans has been known to take back, refund, and provide other goodwill gestures for food purchased that the customer didn’t like.  Consistently consistent.

If you’re selling fast and easy, it better be fast and easy all the time.  Not just most of the time. If you’re selling fresh, it needs to be fresh at 6 am or 6 pm.  If you’re selling durable, it better last under the harshest uses or conditions.

Regardless of what you sell, think about how consistent your brand delivers on its promise.  If it’s anything shy of 100%, or Six Sigma, I suggest you reevaluate and understand not just why, but what you’ll do to correct it.  Nobody wants to buy “sometimes”.  In fact most people buy with their emotions, and as human beings our emotions are wired for a “forever” experience.  People don’t like change and if your brand is inconsistent you’re indirectly creating a situation that will bring a change to your customer.  Not a good thing.  Consistently consistent.  That’s the key.

 

 

A Remarkable Sales Lesson From Yankee Candle

Candle

Yesterday I went into Yankee Candle to purchase some of their awesome selling Balsam and Cedar scented candles.  I had a Buy Two, Get Two Free coupon.  My goal, as always when shopping, is to know exactly what I want, get in, get out, and get home!  I certainly hadn’t expected to get schooled in Sales while buying something as simple as a candle.  But I did.

Immediately upon walking in I was greeted by a very nice, “in-the-Christmas-spirit” sales associate.  She noticed I was a “man on a mission”, and asked what she could do to direct me to what I was looking for.  I told her I had a coupon for the buy 2, get 2 and I specifically wanted Balsam and Cedar candles.  She directed me to “get a basket” and then led me to the display where she then said “you want to buy the large candles with that coupon.”  I told her I was planning on getting the medium size jars.  What she said next hit me like a brick.  In all my sales career this was a first.  Her response was so quick, and so filled with conviction it just completely disarmed me.

She said, “Look…you went to college.  The large jar is $27.99 and the medium is $24.99 but the burn-time difference is 60 hours.  I know you can do the math.”  WOW!  This lady was spot on.  She used my own intelligence against me!  I did go to college and I could do the math.  With that I said yes, and out I walked with 3 Balsam and Cedar candles and a Mountain Lodge (my favorite) for a bit of variety.

On my drive home this experience got me thinking.  This lady’s style and level or persuasion rivaled any C-Suite sales executive I’ve ever dealt with and she was working for Yankee Candle!  While I might be wrong, I’m betting her sales skills were all her and not taught by Yankee.  If I’m incorrect I’d love to know more about their sales training program.

Yankee Candle Lady’s Sales Style:

  1. Smile.  The entire interaction she was smiling and genuinely cheerful.
  2. Recognize and acknowledge body language – “man on a mission”.
  3. Provide subtle direction – “get a basket”.  She’s in control.
  4. Respond accordingly – “follow me”, as she led me to the display.
  5. Know your product and your price points – “you want to buy the large”.
  6. Ready with quick reply to objection – “You went to college…you can do the math”.  Her response is disarming.  She’s challenging my intellect but subtly…and with a smile.
  7. Close the deal – she walks me up to the counter to be cashed out.
  8. Thanks me for coming in.  I wish her a Merry Christmas and she looks at me, still smiling and says “Merry Christmas to you too”.

What a truly unexpected and wonderful experience buying a candle!  Yankee, you’ve got yourself a Raving Fan! What do you think?

Customer Journey Mapping:  If you ask, be ready to listen and act

I’m attending a Marketing conference this week in Chicago.  Much has been said about the importance of undertanding the customer buying journey.  CMOs, SVPs of Marketing, and in some cases CEOs are talking about how much time and money they are spending to better understand their customers.  Yet nothing is happening.  Why?

Most companies fall into two categories:  those willing to change how they go to market, and those that “say” they’re willing to change buy are simply not capable.  The latter is not because of a lack of intellect or knowledge.  Instead, companies not “capable” of change are typically those that are emboldened to the way they currently do things.  It’s easier.  It’s more comfortable.  It’s familiar.  Changing how you do business, and the interaction you have with your customer is scary.  It’s unknown.  As such only the most brave and courageous make the jump.

For those proposing or leading customer journey work consider the following:

  1. How involved has the current management/executive team been with customers?  Are they speaking directly to customers?  Are they in the field meeting with customers?  Do they attend industry events and speak directly to customers and prospects?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no” it’s likely you’ll struggle implementing the changes required to address your findings.
  2. What major changes have taken place over the past 12 months that affect the customer directly?  Did you launch a net promoter measure?  Is there a customer service center, and if so how is their success measured?  What communication has been sent to your customers over the past year?  Is it all sales related, or educational in nature?  Have you been surveying for customer satisfaction?  What have you learned?
  3. What’s the background of the CEO, COO, and President?  If you work in a small organization those roles may all belong to the same person.  That’s okay but the question still pertains.  Does he or she have any customer experience?
  4. Your sample pool should be diverse yet random.  Meaning, if you sell multiple products through the same sales and service channels you should look for customers with varying tenure with your firm, as well as different volumes of business.
  5. Have a project manager.  You may not have that luxury…it may be you.  How are your excel skills?  How do you manage projects, timelines, deliverables?  What’s your releationship with senior management to whom you’ll have to present your findings and recommendations?

I’ve conducted numerous customer journey mapping over the past decade.  The customer is always changing…evolving.   

 The impact of social media has become a catalyst for this change and will likely expedite it in the future.  If you’re interested in learning more about conducting customer journey mapping send me a reply/comment and I will be happy to provide additional insight and guidance.

4 Keys To a Better S.A.L.E.

Improve

No matter if you’re new to sales or a seasoned sales executive, brushing up on your selling skills is as important as changing the oil in your car regularly.  Leave the oil too long without changing it and your engine gunks up, gas mileage deteriorates, and in time your engine will fail.  Knowledge is to the sales person what oil is to an engine.  When you stop feeding your mind new knowledge your performance deteriorates and failure is around the corner.  But with so many things to think about, so many calls to make, numbers to hit, you don’t know what to focus on first.  So here’s a tip that will keep it simple…just remember SALE.

The “S” in Sale stands for structure.  Every sales person needs structure.  Some people are naturally disciplined and have strong internal structure while others require help to remain focused and disciplined.  Only you can be honest enough with yourself to know where you fall on the structure spectrum.  Structure includes when you make your calls, how your desk is set up, and whether your car is cleaned.  Structure speaks to your ability to organize.  Stronger organization equals higher efficiency which yields better results.

The “A” in Sale stands for attitude.  John Maxwell, the famous inspirational author, wrote “your attitude determines your altitude.”  Having a positive attitude is essential to success in life and critical to your success in Sales.  Have you ever met a sales person who seemed like they were on their last leg?  No more gas in their tank?  How did that make you feel?  Excited to buy?  Confident in purchasing their product…from them?  No.  No one wants to work with someone with a poor attitude.  No one buys from someone who lacks confidence in themselves, their product, or their company.  If you’re honest enough to recognize you have a confidence gap – read.  Thousands of books and books-on-tape are out their that can help.  Take action.  Don’t let another day go by with a bad attitude.

The “L” in Sale stands for learning.  If you’re not a continuous learning become one…and fast.  Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game.  And then you have to play better than everyone else.”  The rules of the game are always changing in Sales.  Your customer is evolving.  The internet and its ability to provide mountains of information will continue to change the game for years to come.  Better educated customers and prospects force a sales person to constantly up their game.  If you think the sales skills that won you awards 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year will work in 2016 you’re wrong.  News flash!  If your buyer hasn’t already changed, they are in the process of changing.  Read.  As much as you can from as many sources as you can.  Commit to bringing one or two points from what you read that day into your sales conversations, then watch how your customer engagements change before your eyes.

The “E” in Sale stands for energy.  And lots of it.  Sales is physically and mentally demanding.  Some days are more draining that others.  Break up your day.  No matter how good you are you simply can’t sit and make 50 sales calls in a row without stopping.  While that may be physically possible, your energy levels will diminish and your customer will sense it.  Stay hydrated.  Drink 4 – 5 glasses of water throughout the day, or bottles if more convenient.  Stop for lunch.  If you don’t have the time for lunch keep an energy and protein bar handy.  You don’t want low energy levels to come across as poor attitude.  And make sure you get a work-out in daily.  Whether you start, or end, your day running, spinning, swimming or CrossFit, simply make sure to get some exercise in.  It will help keep your mind fresh, your energy up, and your endurance strong.

Happy Selling!

A Social Media Experience Gone Bad

disappointment

My job requires a great deal of domestic travel.  I’m typically on the road 75% of the time covering the entire country.  Living in Philadelphia there’s one airline that dominates this market.  I’ve traveled this airline since 1995 and have flown their top-tier status for years.  With more than a million miles under my belt I’d consider myself a pretty savvy traveler.  I’d also consider myself to be a loyal customer to any company that provides me with the right value equation – what I get for what I spend.  So what does all this have to do with social media?  Here’s the story.

Recently I was scheduled to fly out of Philly to Denver.  Shortly after midnight, the day of travel, I received an email alerting me that my flight had been canceled.  I called the airline and after I got the customer service agent out of bed he proceeded to tell me that the flight had been indeed been canceled but that he would help me out by getting me on the next available flight to Denver.  Imagine my surprise when he informed me that the next available flight was scheduled for the exact same time as the original departure.  Hmm.  In his ever groggy voice the representative informed me that he could not assign me a seat as this flight was “under airport control”.  Sounds reassuring.

Got to the airport only to be told that the only seat available on this new flight…which remember was scheduled for the exact same time as my original flight…was a center seat.  Needing to get to Denver I had no choice.  So, last row, center seat, sold out flight.  I proceeded to tweet this airways regarding my situation.  Moments later I received a response to my tweet that said “We’re sorry for the cancellation. Check in with a gate agent for a seat assignment.”  Wow, now that was helpful.  So I proceed to reply suggesting they offer me something as a consolation…a free drink, WiFi, something.  Response? “We’re unable to offer free WiFi or drinks we’re sorry for your disappointment.”

Needless to say this airways attempt at using social media to delight and wow a customer fell WAY short.  Their responses were cold, impersonal, and above all else…useless.

Fast forward a week later.  Same exact situation happens only this time in route to Dallas.  So I tweet again.  This time the response I receive is “We’re sorry we aren’t able to help you here however our agents are happy to assist.”  This airways just doesn’t get it.  What they’ve done is made a bad situation even worse.  No one has owned the problem, no one owned fixing it.  It’s an incredible game of shift the blame and move the shells around.  Simply awful.

So what could this airways have done differently to make this a better experience for the traveler using social media:

  1. Have a policy already in place that provides guidance to whoever is monitoring social channels as to what goodwill offers can be made to satisfy the customer
  2. Make the reply personal.  “I’m so sorry Mr. DeRosa.  That’s terrible.  Here’s what we can do to help…”
  3. Follow up.  Two weeks have now passed and I’ve heard nothing from anyone at airways.  They have my contact number, my frequent flier number, my home and cell phones, and nothing.  Clearly they believe they don’t need to be the Nordstrom’s of the skies.  In fact I’ve gotten better service at a Dollar Store than at airways.

So keep in mind that if your company is using social media to engage its customers it requires a true commitment.  It’s not something to dabble in.  Canned replies, form letters, and traditional customer communication does not work with social media.  Spend the time to understand this before getting involved.  If your company doesn’t have the time, resources, or patience to learn and understand social media then do all you can to ensure they never launch it lest it will lead to an airways like experience.

Where To Look When Customer Attrition Ticks Up

UnhappyFace

You’re approaching another quarter-end and your customer retention numbers seem to be headed in the wrong direction. You look around and come up with some quick explanations as to why you’re losing customers. The economy, your competitor that’s selling on price, Obamacare, and lack of sophisticated systems round out the top of your list of excuses. Hey, I get it. Those are the easy ones to point to. The excuses that you can’t control and those that make the blame game so much more tolerable. But if you really want to know why you’re losing your customers start by doing the following:

1. Ask a few that have already left. It always strikes me how apprehensive business people are to follow up with a former customer to inquire as to why they left. Doing this provides an opportunity to reopen the door and establish some goodwill in the form of listening to what’s important to them.
2. Walk the floors. Many executives still hide behind their glass or wood doors. They isolate themselves from reality claiming to work on the “important stuff” as they develop strategies to grow the business. The problem is that many executives don’t know what the issues are and therefore will never be able to develop an effective business strategy. The challenges and opportunities of your business are well known to the “rank and file” employees – the ones interacting directly with your customers. Talk to them and ask them what’s going on.
3. Get in the field. Another tactical initiative that is required to build effective strategies. Meet your customers, your suppliers, referral sources, and partners. Get involved, ask lots of questions. Focus on THEM. Listen. Forget show and tell. It’s not about you.
4. Establish a customer advisory council. Put together a council consisting of existing customers of different industries and sizes. Create a charter that tasks the council with identifying problem areas and possible opportunities. Bring the council together twice a year if possible and two other times during the year by phone. Listen.

The fact is that it’s probably an obvious reason why you’re losing customers. For most businesses and their leaders they just don’t want to listen. It’s easier to blame characteristics that are uncontrollable. But those leaders that roll up their sleeves, get in the trenches, and ask the tough questions are those leaders that have the best chance of reversing poor customer retention numbers.