Mark S. Hi everyone and welcome to Episode 16 of the Custom Apparels Startups Podcasts. My name is Mark Stephenson.
Mark V. And I am Marc Vila and today we’re talking about Customer Experience Matters.
Mark S. And we’re also talking about Customer Expertise Matters.
Mark V. Customer Experience Matters. (Laughing)
Mark S. We’re going to talk about both of those things. One reason is I hardly ever read any of the trade magazines, like Print wear, Stitches and Wearables and things like that; I hardly ever read them because between Marc and I we pretty much know it all. But this time there was this wonderful article in here, called the power of a positive customer experience and I look at it’s by Marc Vila.
Mark V. Yeah!
Mark S. Which I was so excited to read and decided we should base a podcast on it.
Mark V. Yeah, yeah and you found it coz I shoved it in your face.
Mark S. That’s true, otherwise like I said, I don’t read those magazines.
Mark V. I do, I flip through the magazines and read them a lot, I try to just always trying to think of new ideas and new things and how our customers can learn and do better and I’ll tell you I was inspired by visiting Disneyland.
Mark S. Okay, that’s now you’ve got kids, so it’s not just you by yourself just wandering around Walt Disney World in a creepy way.
Mark V. That was just me.
Mark S. Okay that was just you.
Mark V. Because the Walt Disney and the crew over there in Orlando, Florida. They’ve mastered this concept of customer experience from the music to the smells, to the door knobs it is an actual experience and that’s one thing I mentioned in the article but specifically it really does matter in our industry as well, that how we can deliver this awesome experience which will create lifelong customers.
Mark S. And I really never thought about it- frankly until you start here, not thought about seriously; because you always think what impression do your customers have on your business, but there is a huge effect that keeps customers coming back or doesn’t and I think Colman & Company does a particularly good job of this, in making sure that customer service and the personality of the organization comes through. So tell us a little bit about it, Mr. Vila, since you are the authored expert about customer experience; tell me about what customer experience is.
Mark V. Okay, so it is literally the experience that they have when they deal with your organization, when they deal with your company, so what is it like working with you and your company, what does it feel like and I think customer experience is more, it’s not customer service, which is different. Customer service is serving them, it is taking care of their problems and their issues and smiles and all these things, but the customer experience is what they feel while they are experiencing living through customer service while they are placing orders, while they are getting products, it’s what they feel and if they feel awesome, if they feel that they like you then you have succeeded.
Mark S. Because you can get great customer service from a company and you don’t respond to it personally, especially here in central Florida, people have an emotional connection to Disney world, everybody absolutely knows, we’ve all had season passes in the past, everybody knows what it’s like, you get the phone calls beforehand, you get terrific service inside the rooms, you get the character breakfast, there is a personality to Disney world that people carry their whole lives. So you feel ‘x’ way when you think about Disney, now you folks out in California, I am not talking about Disney Land, that’s a completely different experience, it’s not the same at all.
Mark V. And which is true and it’s the personality I like and I like when you had mentioned that, it’s the personality of the company, so I think we could talk about, so what do you mean specifically, I understand the personality of Disney world what that was, what would the personality of a T-shirt shop be?
Mark S. I don’t know but when you (I have to use this example and I know it is a terrible one) when you got to Abercrombie and Fetch, when you go to those retail stores, you are going to have a consistent experience, you are going to run into basically androgynous models wherever you look, you are going to run into the 20 something good looking, the apparels are certain way, the services are certain way and it has a defined personality and it’s the same way when you go into a local Prestel shop, maybe the guy behind the counter is a real character, the things that he is going to… actually I’ll use a better example, my wide is from Trinidad in the West Indies and they have a particular flavor of Indian food and they also have personality to the culture, so there is a little roady shop here in Tampa and when-ever you go there, there is a woman that cooks all the food herself and she has a lot of personality and it’s all borderline rude, when you order a drink, she will ask are your hands broken, can’t you got to the thing and pull out a can of soda yourself ? So I am not saying that is a good personality, I really respond to it, but it is personality of a business, and you can expect that. If I were to go into Abercrombie or go to this roady shop, in Abercrombie I would see this middle aged guy with glasses that’s running the counter and speaking in certain way to me and if I were to go into the roady shop and someone was overly polite and walked me to my table and offered me extra butter then those would both be kind of disjointed, it would kind of interrupt that personality that cost more experience.
Mark V. Yeah, if you were to walk into say, Abercrombie and an older gentleman greeted you and it’s like “Good evening sir, how are you today?” it would feel very weird and it wouldn’t feel right, “you would be like that place was very weird” even though you had somebody greet you, nice and they had the clothes you wanted and maybe the price was right, everything was right but then the personality was wrong because the person at the counter was different than the person… it felt weird and you would walk out and say “that was weird”.
Mark S. And It does and it doesn’t matter, but what we’ve talked about maybe three times so far is that first time of contact with your customer and how that experience plays out, but before you do that you really have to just like the roady shop and just like Abercrombie and Fetch and Disney world, you pretty much have to decide on a personality for your business, and if you are a one man shop of you are a one woman shop then the personality is you or what you create, so we’re kind of talking about the two extremely different personalities and that’s one where you try to be ultra professional, so maybe you’re a screen print shop and you deal with fortune 500 companies or you’re even a small home based business but your demeanor is very professional, you want things to be crisp, clear and very good looking and everything happens on time and that’s kind of the approach that you want to take.
Mark V. Like someone might want to describe it like a corporate field.
Mark S. Right, and the other one is kind of like a home based business, where all of your customers know that you have a embroidery machine in your back bedroom and you work after your kids go to sleep, so the personal of your business may have to do something with taking care of your kids, the fact that you work out of your house or maybe a homey feel but either one of these are going to inform every step of your process and if you’re consistent the people that gravitate towards you and do business with you will be lifelong customers.
Mark V. And a great little exercise to do, I always like little exercises and homework and things.
Mark S. I hate exercises,
Mark V. But I think what you do is personify your business as if it is a person, and say what would I like the personality to be and it could be anything right down four or five words, edgy, cool, funny, hip, professional, corporate. Write down all of these…
Mark S. Corky, nerdy whatever it is.
Mark V. Yeah, write down a personality and then every step you’re going to create which we’re going to go over make sure that it aligns with that personality, if it doesn’t currently then change it.
Mark S. because the more consistent you are and the more your customers know what to expect from you and their experience is the same in every step of the way the better their feel about your business and more likely they are going to talk about it, if you have a very professional business then your customers are going to appreciate that and they may refer to you in that way, like you’re looking for a real pro for direct to garment printing then talk to this guy; you should talk to this lady she is hilarious and she also does good work. You’re going to get a lot of those kinds of things and it will benefit your business in the long run.
Mark V. And I love all that stuff, and I think this is a fun part of creating a business.
Mark S. Absolutely, so let’s kind of break down the steps are you ready for that? So what we’re going to do is we’re going to go through the initial call or contact and how your personality of your business and your customer quality might reform that and the following ones; taking a order kind of mid order doing a progress report, if there are any issues how would you handle those, filling an order the packaging that you’re going to use, and how you handle packaging and the delivery then the follow up, how do you handle asking for referrals or coming back to the customer over and over again.
Mark V. Alright, so the first thing that you said is the initial call.
Mark S. Initial call or contact, that can be somebody coming in or E-mail or phone.
Mark V. Or a website, that’s the first thing that you need to think about is how are your customers going to experience their initial contact with you, so what I see too often is somebody that I talk to on the phone that is really cool person and i like them. Everything about their personality is great, and you can say, you can just go on my website and there is a quick little form which you can fill out about what you want to order and then the website is terrible and it doesn’t matches their personality at all.
Mark S. I didn’t even think about the website which is funny but that is very important especially if you’re billing yourself as the pro as a professional then you have to have a solid polished website. If you’re billing yourself as kind of a home based business (with a lot of personality and kids) then your website should reflect that as well.
Mark V. Or you might not even have one. And sometimes it is better if there is a part of your personality that doesn’t shine well, sometimes it is better to hold that back. And it could be a website we’ve talked about websites…
Mark S. Yeah, yeah, please-please listen to all those, coz most of you have terrible websites.
Mark V. (Laughing)
Mark S. I have to be honest with you, you really do have bad websites, and it is not doing you a service. for example if you have a home based business, all of your customers come from referrals and you should use your Facebook page, post pictures of your dog and do that personal touch with all your customers.
Mark V. What we’re saying really is the initial contact, the initial call, and this is I think a lot of these things are just concepts and ideas but how are you going to answer the phone-call?
Mark S. Right.
Mark V. Will you have a certain greeting that you’re going to say, if you’re corky and nerdy you might have something that falls along with that, maybe you have star trek music playing in the background.
Mark S. “Hi, thanks for calling Marc’s T-shirts – where nerds rule!” or “We really don’t care what you do for a living, just buy a T-shirt.”
Mark V. All that, all of that and if it is really professional have a very professional greeting. So have a greeting, have an initial way of answering the phone call, and that should come with the website, that should match as well and if you have a store front, it’s the same thing.
Mark S. If you are walking through the mall and you see a T-shirt shop and all of the T-shirts are nicely decorated, you may or may-not walk in. But if you have a T-shirt shop in a mall and you got Sci-fi T-shirts all over the place, you’re going to attract a certain audience, if you’ve got funny ones; if you are walking around in a mall in your fuzzy slippers and pajama bottoms and you kind of got that home based feel no matter where you are then you’re going to attract different set of customers and people are going to respond to that.
Mark V. Yeah, so it’s huge, it is really important that I think that the initial way that they come in contact with you, like you mentioned storefronts too, the signage on your store and where it is located; all these things all becomes a part of that initial experience, do they like you right away, people make decisions and make judgment calls really quick and if you can get somebody, like “wow this lady is so cool, this lady is so nice” immediately within that first minute because of your website, your E-mail address whatever it is, then that will set the pace for the rest. The rest is easy almost.
Mark S. So, let’s say the initial, you married and you run a home based business and it’s all about Bling. So when you pick up the phone and say, “hey! Thanks for calling Mary’s home of Bling, this is Mary at my home how can I help you?” If it is professional like Mark said “Mark Stephenson here from big time custom apparel, we have special today on 5000 T-shirts; how can I help you today?” So the personality has to come to that initial call.
Mark V. And when you do that right, when you have that good personality in the beginning or it reflects the personality that you want your business to have and to embody then you move right along from there.
Mark S. And the next step is taking the order, but the other thing that I want to point out about this is initial call about defining your personality is that if you’re not true to your personality then it will show up as some kind of failure in communication or expectations later on. If you are Mary’s home based Bling shop then you try to come off like a corporate entity then that’s going to be difficult to maintain throughout the process, at some point somebody is going to find out that you work in your garage or your bedroom or in a house out back and it’s not going to match the perception and you’re not going to see true, you’re not going to see that you want to do business with untrue.
Mark V. Yeah, authenticity.
Mark S. That’s the word, thank you.
Mark V. Authenticity is important, I’ve read an article a while back of saying I and we in business and when it is appropriate, and the author kind of just said that, say we when it is we, say I when it is I. So if it’s just you, don’t be afraid to embody that and if you have people that help you then let them know that too. Even if you want to go out for that corporate environment, remember that whoever you’re selling to is another singular person too, often. Match with that person and let them like to know that you’re going to represent them with their apparel as well.
Mark S. So, that’s the first step in customer experience, what happens when a customer first experiences you and your company, it’s a website, it’s an E-mail it’s an incoming phone-call or an outgoing phone-call just make sure that it matches the personality of your business.
Mark S. The next thing is taking an order.
Mark V. This is the first step where I think most businesses start to fail. it was right at the beginning because they don’t have for one besides just matching the personality because that’s always going to be a theme through the whole thing is matching the personality, however in taking the order you have to make sure that honestly it is easy and comforting and non-intrusive, it’s got to be something when you are helping the customer take an order, for one it shouldn’t be a big form that they have to fill out that’s work.
Mark S. It can’t be hard for them.
Mark V. It can’t be hard for them you want them to be able to say, it was so easy to order shirts, like it was just – I called up, I spoke to so and so, they answered my questions, I went online, they had really easy forum, I filled it out while they stayed on the phone with me when I did it; you want to make sure that when you customer is placing an order, that they don’t walk away from it that they don’t abandon the order or part in the way through; never mind, this guy he sends me E-mail with this word document, that I open it up and it is not formatted correctly, he said that I have to fill out the whole thing if he wants me to do an order. I called up someone else down the road, they just took my order over the phone and it took like 15 minutes.
Mark S. Right and now we are done.
Mark V. And now we’re done. Maybe filling out a forum is the right way to go for your business but make sure that it is nice and easy and comforting and gives the customer an excellent experience in placing the order.
Mark S. Right, and what we want to avoid too is the, we send out a lot of E-mails here at ColDesi (I’m sorry if you get 5 a day) a lot of the auto-responders that we get from companies (I know it is one of Marc Vila’s pet peeves as well) have 2 paragraphs of disclaimers. Like we only take orders of over this, don’t send us bad artwork, if you’re calling on Friday we really don’t want to talk to you after 2. There is all of these negative things, there are all of these rules for them to do business with you. If that’s the personality that you’ve decided that that’s your personality for your business- think about it like that, is that really your personality? Someone must place an order with you, do you immediately respond with all of the things that they can’t do, or when you take that order, it is, okay, this is great, this is great, this is a great price, this is the deal that I’m going to give you, terrific, just send me the artwork and we’ll get this all taken care of for you.
Which one is it, which one would you rather do business with?
Mark V. Yeah, that is just so important, it is one of those things that always drives me a little nuts in doing business with somebody. The thing that I always say is that I am trying to give you money, please take it in an easy way for me. I want to give you money, you want my money, and can we just do this in a way that’s not a pain in my neck.
Mark S. I will say to this that don’t confuse a casual personality or having a home based business or even a big professional business with begin able to skip steps or leave things out or being un-professional. You can have a great personality and still be professional, for example if you take an order on the phone, be easy be fast but then send them a confirmation E-mail, to make sure that-that’s all correct and give them the expectations of delivery date in writing, that’s the experience that they’re going to want. Yes I talked to you on the phone, I am definitely going to do it, I am going to send an confirmation E-mail just to make sure that I got all that stuff right.
Mark V. I need you to respond to that Email and then confirm.
Mark S. And then we’ll get started.
Mark V. And then we’ll get started, in this way there is clear communication, because communication is really what’s part of that order, is making sure that you’re communicating clearly and that it’s not a pain to do. I think those are the two things for me when placing an order is that it’s got to be a clear communication. Don’t send a quote probably ever by just E-mailing somebody with the prices.
Mark S. Right, hey 50 shirts, 150 bucks.
Mark V. You’re going to miss something, try to do everything in a quote and that’s the professional side of you – your personality can shine in the quote because you can have a silly image or a professional type of thing. And then the second part of it is to actually make it easy and I always think about, and everyone is probably going to relate to this, if you’ve gone to Walmart -what’s the checkout experience like? At any Walmart, it’s that they’ve got 40 checkout lines, so when you walk in you’re like so cool there’s never a line! But no they got like 3 open, they got like 3 out of 40 open and you’re in line and then you curse why I am here, but that’s not what you want to deliver to your customers, I hope not.
Mark S. I agree, I agree. So don’t make it hard, when you’re taking that order make it simple, make it professional and think about what your customers experience and think about what would you like and if you’ve decided on a personality for your business, make sure that shines through when take the orders.
Mark S. The next thing is going to be Progress Report and Issues.
Mark V. So, make sure your, that’s not just one thing or two, but really for me when I hear that and I think about that, make it sure that your customer knows what’s going on the whole time, that they know when to expect it, that they know whether you’re working on it, they know that everything is on pace especially if it’s going to take a while, if you’re doing an order that you’re fulfilling right away, like you’re a T-shirt shop in a mall or in a storefront where there is not too much going on, but if you’re placing an order for 500 shirts and 500 caps and it is costing them a good amount of money now.
Mark S. For an event.
Mark V. For an event that is happening on a date and you told them that you would have it ready by Tuesday and they’ve ordered it let’s say 10 days before that, it’s a great Idea, you’ll never regret just saying to somebody “hey BTW everything is on pace, just want to let you know”.
Mark S. They would love you, you know what? I would love that. Even if I get my car fixed, (even if it’s going to be there overnight) I would like somebody to call me in the afternoon and say just want to let you know that we have all the parts and everything is going fine.
Mark V. Yeah, so you can decide that how you want that to be, you can let him know that the shirts have arrived, the blanks have arrived and you can let them know that it is past production in art. There is a place where I’ve ordered stickers and art-form before and I get these little mini progress E-mails when it goes from one part of the company to the next and it says “Artwork approved” and I get a nice E-mail that says “my artwork was approved” I look at it for a second and I smile and I delete it, it doesn’t matter, however it is not my stickers aren’t supposed to arrive tomorrow and I am worried are they going to…
Mark S. You can apply personality to this as well, if you are the home based business and everybody knows that you’re the ‘mom bling company’ then maybe your progress report is – hey! they cancelled the PTA meeting today so I’m going to get your order out 5 hours early, or my kid got an A and I’m actually going to knock 10 dollars off your order, so something that kind of connects you-your life and your personality with the business and share that experience when you report about what is going on.
Mark V. Yeah, the nerd one E-mail says “Status update, T-shirts: Order has arrived”.
Mark S. Star date whatever.
Mark V. Put it all together and have a little bit of personality to it and just keep them in the loop and then the other part you wrote down there was issues, how do you handle an issue.
Mark S. And you handle that with the same personality. So let’s say the blanks didn’t arrive, I would much rather prefer to communicate that to somebody five days before the order to let them know there might be a problem because the blanks didn’t arrive, here is what I am doing to fix it, then it’s the day that the order is due and now I’m not gonna get my shirts.
Mark V. Yeah, and you can also, you can also find out, you can start to tree-age issue when you do this, let’s just say that you ordered a massive order of shirts from a company, you got three of four customers and you ordered thousands of dollars worth of T-shirt. You get a dozen boxes and you start cracking em open and it is all wrong, they didn’t send your order, they send you somebody else’s order, and this is say five thousand dollar T-shirts, how am I going to handle this, they are not going to overnight another, but if you call your customer and you just say, hey! I just want to let you know, your shirts arrived but they weren’t your shirts they were somebody else’s shirts. So I talked to them and they are going to have new ones by tomorrow, I should be on pace, if am a little bit late because of this, is that okay or… then just gauge. And they might say “I really, really need those” and to that you say “okay, no problem I am going to do yours first before anybody else’s just to make sure yours is on time” because you might talk to the next guy who might say, I’m not going to even use them until next Tuesday anyway, just have them to me by Friday.
Mark S. Or it could be something like if you go to place the order with your Blanks manufacturer and they don’t have that shirt, they don’t have enough of that shirt, so that’s your first issue in the progress report, hey, you know I went to order these polos and they are not available but I have a great substitution here, let me give you that status report, is this okay?
Mark V. If they turn around and say “I really want those shirts”, well I can’t get those till Monday which means I can’t deliver your product till Friday, is that okay? “no problem” And crisis avoided rather than you play this other game of not telling them, trying to do a dace like well, they said that they will be here till Friday, I hope there is no delivery delay, because if it is Friday I can work throughout the entire weekend. And get it on Monday and the customer won’t know any difference.
Mark S. What’ll happen is your order will be late and all you’ll be able to talk about when your order is late is you didn’t get the order on time and your customer does not care.
Mark V. And they didn’t know and in the meantime, there might have been another customer that you could’ve not worked on because they didn’t care. I ordered these way early, these are like a month early. So you’re going to run into all of that. I had somebody recently who had ordered some rhinestones and they had ordered, it wasn’t a ton of stones but it was enough, they only needed to do only 10 shirts, but it was kind of a big deal of a client for them and it was somebody new that they were getting into, they had some clouds, so they thought if I can treat this customer well, I can get some big orders for them, so they ordered on and everything went well, however there was a storm or something, this was around South Carolina, there was really bad rain in South Carolina a few weeks ago, so obviously delivery trucks could not go through where they normally could. So their order by UPS, UPS said that we’ve got to re-route all these trucks I cannot deliver it by Monday, now she was -she felt like she was in this bind and that’s the situation where…she’s like I have to get it by Friday, because you should call that customer and find out because do you really need to what are your alternatives, you got to communicate with that.
Mark S. And that’s going to be even, you actually have an advantage in your customer experience if you have some kind of a problem that you overcome, some of our best customers are those that once had serious issues but that we’ve taken care of it. Wonderfully and the experience was so good that they become advocates for your business. You know they say these guys were late but there was a flood and fire and they ran out of T-shirts, and they got it to me like one day late, they are fantastic. If you’re going to illicit that kind of response because of the way you handled, in between when you take the order and deliver the order, just think of the business that you can build up.
Mark V. So it’s about providing everything is good and on Pace, your communication but also about how you’re going to handle the issues and respond to those issues.
Mark S. But I just want to do like a quick foot note in filling the order, because that’s next after progress, on my little list here, but honestly filling the order is the act of actually creating the shirts and ofcource you want to make sure that you do the best job that you can. Don’t get into the habit of making just checking the box, because the quality of the garment, the quality of embroider or the DTG or the bling is vitally important, so part of customer experience is checking everything before you pack it up.
Mark V. Yeah. and this all goes along with the personality of your business, it all goes back to that, if your business is – we do it fast, we do it cheap, we get it out the door, we got your shirts and it costs you almost nothing, then you gauged your quality based on that.
Mark S. Right.
Mark V. So, for you it’s like, no, I don’t have the most vibrant print, I don’t have the most amount of Rhinestones in my design, I do them a little bit less dense, but it’s because they are cheap and it’s cheap shirts and it is fast, so I could do these fast and cheap compared to somebody that says “we’re going to do awesome T-shirts” and therefore you’re going to put pre-treat on your light colored garments, I am talking about DTG printers so that they look more vibrant, but that takes you more time and money compared to somebody, so it’s all got to line up, in fulfilling the order, taking care of it fits with what the expectation.
Mark S. And that kind of rolls right into packaging, so let’s say you are the big professional organization and that’s your persona you’re tied a bit. Maybe the quality control aspect of the order is that you have a professionally printed checklist (the 10 point quality checklist of your order) and it’s on the company stationary or it’s on the post card or something and someone goes through and say’s the embroidery is high quality, there are no pulls and the underlay was done properly and all that is there and it is signed off by somebody with VP in front of their name and it’s dropped into the top of the box. That same thing for the home based Bling lady might be the grocery list, that say’s that here are all the things that I made true that you got today with your order, check, check, check and there is a nice flowers and a heart and a puppy with a signature or something along those lines.
Mark V. A real puppy?
Mark S. Yeah a real puppy! You know maybe you can write a little note “hey if you find my kid’s tooth in one of these boxes then let me know”. Whatever reinforces the personality of either kind of organization.
Mark V. Yeah and I think the packaging is quite possibly the most… Alright so first it’s the initial contact, that’s probably the most important thing because that’s going to be if they like you or not right away. To me the packaging it might be the next.
Mark S. I got into props again coz Colman and Company has done such a good job in the past year in upping their game with packaging. Now when you get Colman and Company rhinestone, you get crystalline with the beautiful high end packaging that lets you know that there is quality inside, when you get the ink that say’s genuine DTG on it, there is a Label there with a date on it. It’s all very well done and very professional.
Mark V. And you don’t have to be perfect in everything and you don’t have to be… when you get bring up Disney, when you get your passes they now give you these wrist bands and it’s in a very high end box with custom foam and it’s got your name printed…
Mark S. I mean but the ticket is $4000.
Mark V. Exactly, would it be cool if every single was individually wrapped, yeah! But are you charging for that? if you are not then just scale it down so it fits right within your personality, it fits in what they are paying for. But what I think that some little things you can do that will basically cost you almost nothing in time and money. But will really step it up like you said that checklist, whether it is hand written or pre-printed and thank you note, a generic thank you card, the cheapest one that you can buy with plain is almost good enough. If you want to step it up a little bit you can get your logo on it or you can get the message even pre-printed in it and you just sign it. But put that in the box, maybe, i’m just going to list out random ideas.
Mark S. Yeah, please because this is important stuff.
Mark V. So, maybe you categorize, you put all the sizes together in order that makes sense, XX on the bottom and small the top, maybe you should put a paper divider in between that actually shows the size, maybe you individually box the sizes as they come. If it is caps make sure that they are all neatly stacked into each other the way that a bunch of caps fit nicely together. Fold the shirts up in a way so someone could take it right out of the box and put it on and not look like a fool coz it is wrinkly.
Mark S. And fold them all exactly the same way.
Mark V. Yeah, fold them nice, you want to think of what happens when people are passing out T-shirts or anything. If you have somebody who has to pass them out who hates doing that, nobody loves doing that, it’s kind of annoying.
Mark S. Yeah, coz everybody complains.
Mark V. I wish I would’ve ordered a large, but you don’t have to deal with that side of it. But help to make that experience better for them.
Mark S. If you are the professional, maybe you include another brochure for your product in the top of thing or you put in a fly or a printed thank-you card or something along those lines, if you are the home-based maybe you take a chocolate-chip cookie and a thank you note and put it in, you put in a plastic bagging you put it on top of the shirt for the guy that has to pass them out. And you want to talk about being a hero, put a cookie or a brownie or a prize in the bottom of the box, whatever one’s of those things match your personality and watch people respond.
Mark V. There is a lot of cool things that you can do, if you have local print company or you go to an online print company go through and look at all the different options and sizes of the things that you can get printed whether cards or hand tags- whatever it is. Find something that will match your personality, whether it is an envelope shaped business card or just a simple nice clean letter head, that you can get a nice note or flyer or something about your business -a thank you type of thing printed on or that handwritten thank you note, get that in the box and I think that the one other thing that you can do is even get a tape with your name or logo or information on it. And don’t do that four corner fold up thing on the box – that when you deliver it to somebody…
Mark S. Yeah, it is hard.
Mark V. It is harder to open and it doesn’t look as nice. Fold the box nicely up again and tape it. But if you got some tape with your logo on it, it is even cooler.
Mark S. Yeah, it is not too expensive.
Mark V. It is not so experience, now all these things are not crazy, now if you really want to step it up then, you can individually bag the shirts.
Mark S. Yes.
Mark V. You can get those U-line cells of clear baggies.
Mark S. You could even get them customized; you can get your box customized. You can write a note on the outside of the box, saying hey! Thanks for whoever is receiving this.
Mark V. You can get boxes printed with pre-written notes on the side that look like the…
Mark S. But all that’s great, you’re talking about things that you can do, but you see where we are going here, right from that initial phone call to taking the order, to taking the order, to get the quote to get the E-mail to get the progress report, you fill the order and your packaging and it all works together, so you know that, I got this cookie from Mary, can we order from her again next year, or I really appreciated dealing with Marc’s big house of custom T-shirts because man! Everything was spot on! I got the box, the brochure and the shirts look great, and they were professional and I definitely want to do business with hem again.
Mark V. So now you have boxed it up but now you have to…
Mark S. deliver it, now one thing that I used to do with another company that I was with and this was before the sale but it applies to after the sales as well, is everything I sent I sent FedEx overnight and let me tell you 100% of the people in the world if they get an overnight package from federal express they immediately open it. There is no question. So I would spend the money and the time and the care in making sure that that delivery was correct and I got a response every single time.
Mark V. I think there is just with that with delivery it’s just communication, make sure that they know when they are going to get it. How they are going to get it? Are they going to pick it up? Or are you dripping it off? so, just make it very clear ahead of time too, that is why it is important to think of this step at the very beginning when you are communicating it all, and you are taking the order and preparing it, you make sure okay? You’re going to come pick them up at Friday afternoon right? or I am going to bring them to your business at this location between 2 and 5.
Mark S. And who am I asking for?
Mark V. So just make sure that everyone understands that how they are going to get it and that they are cool with that.
Mark S. Yeah, and if you are going to ship it or mail it, if somebody says I really want inexpensive shipping, just send it U.S.P.S. send it U.S. mail then say “okay, no problem I am just going to put on my quote that we have no idea when it is going to get there”. Just like make that match your personality, you could say if you were very professional since you realized that if I send it through the post office, they won’t guarantee the time, it doesn’t track as well and I have really less control of that, but I’ll do it if you’d like. If you’re Mary then say “okay, well I’ve sent a letter to my cousin Athela in California once and it still hasn’t got there, it’s been 3 years, are you sure that is okay ?”. So that’s delivery personality if you’re delivering it in person, which I highly recommend if you do local business, because you get to interact with your customers and make sure that you and the box and the delivery process reflect your personality as well.
Mark V. Yeah, and everything down to the way that you dress, if you smoke, don’t smoke in the car with the shirts in the passenger seat.
Mark S. Right, right.
Mark V. Because maybe the person that’ll get them won’t like that.
Mark S. And they’ll just open it up and smell tobacco.
Mark V. So, think about those little things, make sure that you’re dressed according to the personality, if it is corky and nerdy then show up in Jeans- rolled up and Star Trek T-shirt. That’s cool they’re going to love you for that.
Mark S. If you’re a home based business -show up with a box of cookies to deliver with.
Mark V. And you have to make sure that it doesn’t clash, if it is a professional atmosphere, even though your nephew might deliver for you and he is a kind of kid who’s got a mohawk dyed black, if your personality matches that then send them for the delivery.
Mark S. Right.
Mark V. if it’s a corporate.
Mark S. Don’t send that guy! Don’t send that guy!
Mark V. Don’t send that guy. We see that stuff happen all the time in business just in general, so make sure that the delivery just matches up with the rest of it and it’s a clear communication of how and when and where and again you should put all that in writing as much as possible.
Mark S. And it should be reflected on a packing slip, are you going to deliver the invoice at that time, are you going to collect payment, just be prepared for that and make sure that personalities match.
Mark V. And I think there is some other little things that you can do if you are delivering to an office and somebody is going to receive it and that’s not the person that ordered it, you can have them sign that they’ve got it with their name have it signed just like UPS does, this way you can say at 2pm Mary signed and she signed off for it. And then the communication comes back then after it gets delivered, if you’re dealing Wuan who works in the ordering department in a large corporation be delivered to the front desk, you deliver and you have a sign off on it and then you shoot an E-mail on your way out, just dropped it off, thanks for your business and that’s it. What’s next?
Mark S. The next is referrals and follow up but I mean let’s think about this, we’ve talked about the initial call, whether or not if it is through a website or phone-call or an outgoing call or an E-mail. Then we talked about taking the order and having that reflect the personality of your business. The progress report handling issues is to make your customers fell more comfortable. Filling the order and packaging once again referring back to that personality by the time you get to the delivery you’ve really cemented the customer experience, especially if it’s a fist time customer. What happened along the way up to this point and the quality of the garments when you deliver them, you’ve cemented what the person that you’re dealing with thinks of you and your organization, so think about that when you do each one of those things that this is it, you’re not going to be able to do it over to next time if you didn’t do a progress report if you didn’t track the order properly, if the packaging was all screwed up by the time it got to your customer, you don’t get to recover from those, that’s set.
Mark V. Yeah, you know what else is guaranteed if you do this right, you’re going to have more satisfied customers with the same exact quality of work if you didn’t do it right. Because once you start doing a bunch of things wrong and you have customers that are upset along the way, then they are going to start looking at everything with a sore eye, by the time they get it, they are going to look at it and be like “AND! The embroidery wasn’t even good on like half the shirts” compared to the same exact quality delivered perfectly across the way they already love it.
Mark S. Yeah, they love you, that’s a good point, I’ll use my mailbox analogy which I think I’ve used before is that if you love your neighbor and they back-in to your mailbox by mistake, no problem you’re just going to put your mailbox back in. If you hate your neighbor and they back into your mailbox it is war from then on, you’re setting fire to their bushes, you’re poisoning their lawn, their cat is missing, I think that applies to this as well.
Mark V. I don’t want to be your neighbor. (Laughing)
Mark S. If you’re creating a great customer experience then they’ll forgive the mistakes more easily and the next thing is referrals and follow-up will be multiplied tremendously.
Mark V. Ten-fold, Ten-fold. If you deliver an average experience VS delivering an excellent experience, you’re going to get a whole lot more people, people are significantly more likely to share a good story and I don’t mean a good story meaning that you ordered shirts, they were good priced and they looked good, I mean a good story like at home…
Mark S. Yeah, like this lady gave me cookies with the T-shirt, let’s order again!
Mark V. Or these guys are so hip and cool and they got cool mustaches and then the thing is that that’s the story so it’s not just a story that yeah, they make good shirts but it’s a story of dealing with this couple that handles the T-shirt from start to finish was just so good and it was so cool and it was so friendly and they are going to tell people not just because they are literally referring business but because we share stories all the time.
Mark S. Yeah, it’s a good story.
Mark V. I mean how often we share stories about the grocery store or anything in life. That’s what people do, it’s a Friday night they have drinks or tea, they go out to dinner and they share stories and make yours be wonderful.
Mark S. I agree, so that leads us to referrals and follow-ups and that’s what’s going to happen once you create the right customer experience and you’re true to it and it matches the personality of your business, they’ll talk about you and you’ll get more referrals and you’ll get more business and you can apply that same thing to following up with your customers. So after you do the delivery -maybe five to ten days later, you call them up or you send them a card or you send them an E-mail based on what your customer experience is designed to be and find out what did you think?, did you like it? if you’re the home based mom business then you’re going to call up and say “hey, I just dropped off my kids at soccer practice and I saw the soccer shirts and I want to find out how your’s worked out, if you’re the big professional then say this is your 10 day follow up call and we’d like to give you a quick customer survey to make sure everything went as planned and so you fill out the little form”, whatever it is, the follow up helps ensure that not only they remember who you are and associate you with what happened.
Mark V. But I am scared now.
Mark S. Why?
Mark V. What if they are upset?
Mark S. If they are upset that’s a great opportunity.
Mark V. I mean, seriously though (while laughing) what if I call them up and I could’ve left well enough alone now I called them up and I got somebody yelling in my ear.
Mark S. Well, that’s awesome because if you didn’t call them up you would never hear them yell you would never hear from them again, so you’d never have an opportunity to get that same sale next year, if they are yelling at you then you have an opportunity to take care of it and Mark and I and someone else went to a social media conference, maybe a couple of months ago now and one thing that they talked about was that if you get a customer that complains particularly online, if you are able to turn them around and become satisfied with your product or service then there is a good chance that they’ll become an advocate and talk more about you and your product then they would if everything went perfectly.
Mark V. Yeah, coz they were so upset and you turned it around, so I think sometimes it will open up a Pandora’s box, every once in a while where everything was cool and quiet and you made a phone call and you’ve found out that somebody was upset or bothered because you did the complete wrong color on the shirt. And now their event didn’t really clicked together like they really wanted to because the shirt was the wrong shade of blue and it didn’t match but it’s just part of the game, it’s part of the experience and you should do it every time because almost always they are going to say, thanks, especially if you did everything else before.
Mark S. Or you may genuinely help somebody, for example at ColDesi I hope everybody knows we sell commercial embroidery machines and bling machines and direct to garment printers and believe it or not, sometimes people have problems with the equipment and especially if it’s their first time in the business. So a phone call from us to listen to them yell about something about their embroidery machine will 99% of the time result in us going, well, you know? that’s an easy problem to fix just don’t forget to plug it in next time. It could be something ridiculous, it could be something really simple that you fixed and now you’re an immediate hero, because otherwise that person will just sit there with a box of the wrong colored T-shirts and every time they look they’re going to hate you coz they can’t use them. Or you’re going to be the hero that says “why didn’t you tell me, I’ll do that order again tomorrow and I’ll deliver them myself tomorrow night.”
Mark V. Yeah.
Mark S. What a hero, then you would’ve never known if you didn’t followed.
Mark V. And it just yields long term growth, you have to think of that as a long term client, I didn’t invest in equipment and start a business to be out of business next week, I did it to hopefully retire from or pass the business along to my son or daughter or whoever might take over, that’s kind of the dream is that you want to do this for a long time, you didn’t just planed to do it for six months and quit. So have that long term investment in it meaning that in other podcasts we talked about, by the way how is everything? Great! So when is your next event, I’d love to follow up with you.
Mark S. Do that follow up.
Mark V. Now that’s the long tail of the post, what I call the post delivery. The long tail of it is going through and making sure that you just communicate with them, know what’s going on, know what’s going on in the future, follow up with them, call them again, call them again when they “Hey, you told me your next event was on Valentine’s day! And here it is January, ready for shirts?”
Mark S. And you know what I got to say, because we do have at-least -five or six people that listen to a podcast and do some of the things that we recommend in it. I really can’t wait to see what people do with this; I am really excited to see what people take. Because a lot of our customers have really strong personalities, they are very passionate about certain things and that should be revealed in your business and your business practices. And I think creating a customer experience like we talked about in this podcast is a great way to do that.
Mark V. Yeah and I think that this experience that we’ve delivered today is…
Mark S. I think it is pretty good, I think we’re all done. The only thing we haven’t done is ask for referrals, so if you have enjoyed this CAS podcast Episode number 16 then please share it with other people that you think might enjoy it whether or not they are in the custom apparel business or not, we try to make everything that we say, everything that we teach and recommend apply to any small business,
Mark V. And really, this applies to every single business in existence from plumbers to coffee shops to apparel decorators and everyone should do this and every time I look at how we do it, I want to do it a little bit better, you should be doing it the same way and have goals, well next year I might invest in that really cool box if the business is going well. And you should do that and always think about it and consider it. We’ve talked about another podcast before, review it again, don’t do it once but review it again in months or years down the road as things come along so you can improve the experience that you deliver to your customers every single time.
Mark S. So join us on our Facebook Group, Customer Apparel Startups, it’s a Facebook group , you can apply to join and we will say yes or no based on the personality of your business.
Mark V. There you go.
Mark V. Yeah and I encourage that on the Facebook group for sure, we also do webinars, those are product specific but there is a CASWebinars (caswebinars.com) a website and those are specifically about certain products, different ways to actually decorate apparel, so keep in touch with us and let us help you the best we can and we look forward to the next time you listen.
Mark S. Yeah, thanks for listening and have a great business.