The (Absolutely Vital) Secret Trick to Audience Engagement, Social Media Interaction, Positive Brand Perception, and Customer Happiness

I don’t understand people who don’t drink coffee.

I don’t mean that I don’t understand them philosophically, like why are they against such an awesome beverage? I mean that I literally don’t understand how their bodies are physically capable of functioning. Telling me you don’t drink coffee is exactly the same as telling me you avoid oxygen.

I’m even baffled by people who can get out of bed and shower before they have a cup of coffee. And those people who have their first cup at the office. When I check into a hotel and find that the rooms don’t come with coffee makers and instead I’m supposed to somehow manage to put something presentable on my body, operate an elevator, and use the power of my mind to operate my legs and feet in a motion that enables me to walk across a lobby, I’m completely stumped. How exactly does one do that without already having had coffee?

The absolute only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is the knowledge that coffee will be in my body in less than two minutes. (A few months ago, when my doctor wanted me to take a blood test that required me to not eat or drink anything before, I seriously considered booking a hotel next to the lab because I wasn’t sure how I would be able to not only get out of bed, but drive the 15 minutes to the lab in the morning coffee-free.)

You can see then, how alarming it was to open the drawer where I keep my Nespresso capsules to find that I had just brewed my last one.

Normally I have several backup coffee makers (two Keurigs, a french press, a standard coffee machine), but my house is being remodeled so everything’s in storage while I temporarily live in another location. I’ve had to go minimal. Hence just the one Nespresso.

Nespresso coffee is OK. I’m not one those fanatics who thinks it’s the world’s greatest. But it is the world’s fastest. Get out of bed, manage to find the kitchen (mostly through blind luck), press one button. Coffee. Done.

I normally order the capsules from the Nespresso web site by the case (a packet of 10 capsules last me 2 days at most) well before my supply gets too low, but I’ve been traveling a lot and had somehow lost track.

I immediately went online and rush-shipped 100 capsules. In two days, all would be well with the world. But how to survive those two days? Surely I can buy Nespresso capsules someplace in Seattle, right? I searched [nespresso capsules seattle]. The Nespresso web site page came up. Put in my zip code, find coffee near me! Both Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table are just around the corner. Disaster averted.

That afternoon, I popped into William Sonoma, innocent, carefree, and oh so naive. I walked around. I saw the machines but no capsules. Someone behind the register asked if I needed help. Yes! I just need some Nespresso capsules.

“Oh,” she said (so casual! as if she were saying nothing ominous at all!). “We don’t sell them. We only sell the machines”

She saw the expression on my face.

I explained that surely she was mistaken. I had gone to the Nespresso web site and typed in my zip code and was sent right to this store. The promised land of coffee.

Then she explained.

Nespresso doesn’t sell their capsules in the United States. The only way one can get them, if one is not say, in Paris or Barcelona, is to order them from the web site.

She saw the new expression on my face.

I told her the tragic tale of the empty drawer. She immediately went into code red mode. “You already ordered from the site right? And you picked next day shipping, right?”

Yes, yes, of course yes.

But what about tomorrow?

“Wait here.”

And then she was gone.

Moments later she returned. William Sonoma has a few of these capsules, you see, so that potential customers of the machines can try the coffee. As the capsules tumbled from her hands to mine, I could feel the panic lifting.

“Thank you, thank you.”

In my head, I thought, I will always shop at William Sonoma at every possible  opportunity.

Here’s the thing. You can run Super Bowl ads or email marketing campaigns or engage in social media or merchandise your stores just right, but in the end, one employee can create a loyal customer for life or someone whose new hobby is building a hate web site in your honor. Flyers judge an airline by the helpfulness of the agents at the ticket counter. Travelers leave terrible Tripadvisor reviews for hotels that spent millions on remodeled rooms but nothing on front desk staff training.

Who’s the person responding to those social media inquiries, answering the customer service line, running the cash register? As you invest in new technologies, don’t forget to invest in people. And a well-stocked supply of coffee for emergencies (obviously).

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One Comment

  1. Jeff January 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Vanessa – love this post. Agree about non-coffee lovers, but more importantly, the William Sonoma experience. One single interaction gains a customer for life – so many people forget that in their need for more business.

    Love your book too btw.

    Cheers!
    -jm

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