Friday, February 14, 2014

Boston Pizza–Master of Customer Relationships

People don't buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons. - Zig Ziglar

With apologies to my many readers, this blog is going to be a rare (extremely rare) plug for a company.  Within this shameless plug, there is also a clear lesson for other companies if they choose to pay attention.

Many people who know me personally understand me to be a person focused on strategy, tactics and the high quality of both.  What matters to me equally so is the quality of execution, since brilliant ideas, great plans and lousy execution will likely produce a lousy result. 

Powerful dreams cannot overcome reality.

When it comes to brilliant execution, one of the things that fascinates me are the people who pay attention to the small details since within the small details are nuggets of gold waiting to be discovered.

And when it comes to noticing small details and as a person with a decent social media network (about 25 million third-degree connections on LinkedIn plus a plethora of connections on other social media networks), I am fascinated by who notices what I share on social media and how they respond.

Some examples

I was once in a famous international coffee chain location and tweeted that I was surprised that when I asked for a plain cup of coffee right out of the carafe, I was told they were too busy to make any.  There was no response from the corporate folks at all when I expressed surprise that the staff was simply too busy to make a cup of their signature blend.  I wasn’t looking for an apology although an acknowledgement that processes could have been improved might have been useful (especially given how much of their stuff I buy).  If you can send me a gold card with my name on it, you can acknowledge when things can be improved.

I was in their competitor’s establishment just before Christmas past and was told by my server that my Santa hat offended her religious beliefs.  I tweeted about how this intrigued me and blogged about it (Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson and Ignorance Run Rampant) but there wasn’t a peep from anyone.  I wasn’t looking for an apology here either but I noted it because I saw room for improvement.  I can’t tell if they cared or not.

I even had a VERY unsatisfactory experience with a major Canadian auto-repair chain and when I tweeted as such, I was told twice publicly that I would be taken care of.  I never heard from them again.  This customer service faux pas has cost them a few thousand dollars (to-date) in lost business from my colleagues as a result.  Oh well.  I asked for help and the implied message in return was “get lost”.  So I did but who is really losing here?

And then there is Boston Pizza

When Boston Pizza (@BostonPizza) was running their Rib Stain Camo campaign last year, I thought it was brilliant and tweeted as such.  Shortly afterward, I received a tweet back from Boston Pizza and Jim Treliving himself (@JTreliving - Chairman and Founder of BP) and I thought “Now that’s really cool – these guys actually pay attention to what is going on in social media”.  I never thought anything else of the exchange.

Shortly afterward, I was asked for my home address and was surprised a few days later to see a gift of thanks from Boston Pizza.  I was blown away.  It is the little things that count, as I noted earlier.

Just before Christmas, I received a handmade Boston Pizza Christmas Tree ornament from them which I was happy to share on social media.

BP Christmas ornament

And today, this arrived:

BP Valentine

Do you know what these small acts of kindness do?

They bind a customer to a brand.  The customer feels the love and promotes it.  The company gets free promotion in exchange and everyone wins.  Commercials and slick advertising campaigns can bring someone in the door once in a while.  However, a personal connection brings someone in the door for a Lifetime.

People can say that it’s easy for a company the size of Boston Pizza to throw out a little love, knowing that this will multiply into much more business than the small amount spent sharing the love.

That may be so but if it were that easy, then why aren’t more companies doing it?

It is clearly not as easy as it seems and speaks highly of Boston Pizza that they focus on the small details

And as we all know, the devil (and maybe the angel) is in the details. :-)

The Bottom Line

Causally responding to a customer with a “thanks” or a “we’ll get back to you” is easy in social media.  In fact, bots exist to do that for many companies and so their social media strategy exists to stroke you, not to truly engage you.  Social media demonstrates repeatedly that words can be cheap and for some folks, it provides them with the opportunity to be the Twit in Twitter.

But when someone responds with gratitude for a kind word tweeted and then follows up with small acts of kindness, they are cementing a relationship.

Maybe a few other companies can learn from Boston Pizza’s example.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,



For companies that don’t understand strong customer service and the importance of relationships, I wonder if they have posters like this hung up (courtesy of :-) - Disservice

Or this one: - Customer Care

Or maybe this one: - Customer Disservice

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