Did you hear about the tiger that had spots like a giraffe? If not, you're in for a tasty tale.
When little Lily Robinson, who was three at the time, went shopping with her mom at the U.K.'s Sainsbury's supermarket, she couldn't believe her eyes. The tiger bread had spots, not stripes. Tigers don't have spots. Calling it "tiger" bread was just plain wrong. Lily had to speak up.
With Mom's help, Lily wrote a letter to the store. She said "Why is tiger bread called tiger bread? It should be called giraffe bread. Love from Lily Robinson age 3 and 1/2." What the store did next is the stuff of legend.
Sainsbury's service team member, Chris King, wrote Lily back immediately. He explained it was called tiger bread because the baker who first made it years ago thought it looked "stripy." King went on to say he agreed that the spots looked more like a giraffe's. He called Lily's giraffe bread idea "brilliant." In keeping with Lily's nod to accuracy, he signed his letter "Chris King (age 27 & 1/3)."
The story didn't end there. Thanks to Lily's astute observation, tiger bread was re-branded and guess what? It's now called giraffe bread. You can't engage customers much more than that!
Little Lily's story made the rounds of social media when it happened and every once in awhile the charming tale makes the rounds again. Lily is older now, but she'll always have the satisfaction of knowing she is why the iconic spotted loaf is rightly called giraffe bread.
Duran's Farm Fresh Products is a local specialty store in Waterford, PA. I've had the pleasure of visiting many times. The quaint shop is filled with locally grown produce, bulk food items and seasonal products from Amish-based companies and nearby farms. Karen Duran founded the store in October 2010. Early on she realized the value of a strong social media presence.
The store Facebook page is a hub of activity where Karen fully engages with customers. A quick glimpse at the posts and messages today includes information about an upcoming charity event sponsored by the store, customers giving Karen a heads-up when they'll be in to pick up their milk, a funny and a couple of contests.
Karen's customers are a community in both the local and the online sense. A strong community builds loyalty and, for many small locally-owned businesses, it's a lifeline.
When Things Go Crazy - And You Know They Will
Fox's Pizza Den of Union City, PA, recently changed hands. New franchise owner, Jen Carrier, is busy working on improvements and changes to make the locally-owned pizzeria a must-stop for residents as well as those who travel through our small town. So, of course, something had to go wrong.
A frustrated customer turned to social media to complain about an order and delivery that went horribly awry. She had every right to complain. Her complaint was real and new owner or not, what happened was unacceptable. For a new small-business owner, however, a complaint like this is a nightmare and could cause irreparable damage.
With the ball in Jen's court, she rallied. She messaged the unhappy customer immediately and made her an offer she couldn't refuse. And going above and beyond the call of duty, Jen promised to deliver the goods in person.
The best news? Jen didn't have to say a word about what she did to rectify things. The previously unhappy customer followed up on her original Facebook post, saying she was delighted with the "best customer service ever" and promised to give Fox's Pizza Den another try.
Businesses large and small could learn from these examples of engaging with customers in humorous, thoughtful and useful ways. A business with a strong community can survive even when things go wrong as long as customers feel valued.
Have you heard any great customer engagement stories? Let me know in the comments below.