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#49 Don Jackson on How to WOW Customers!
Denny Hatch -- Marketing Expert Denny Hatch -- Marketing Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Issue #49 – Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Posted by Denny Hatch
Don Jackson on How to WOW Customers!

Don and Betts Jackson—proprietors of the Jackson Consulting Group— were spectacular. Their niche was direct marketing insurance and one of every year’s highlights was their information—rich (and very classy) small conference in Bermuda where leading industry insiders revealed what happened the past year and advised what to do in the next 12 months.  
     In 1997 Don and I co-authored 2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success. It is still in print and (IMHO) is an essential guide to the basic secrets (rules) of acquiring and keeping customers.
Don’s Lexus Story
In the early 2000s, friend of Don’s bought a Lexus—a $45,000 piece of machinery. The guy could have easily afforded a Mercedes, a Jaguar or a BMW, but he bought the Lexus.
     The lifetime value to that auto dealer could be in the high six figures if he bought a Lexus every three years.
     Jackson's friend took delivery of his new honey and started to drive it home, luxuriating in the smell of the leather interior and the glorious handling.
     On I-95, he put the pedal to the metal and felt the slight g-force in his gut. The lights, the windshield washer, the gizmo cup holder that popped out of the dashboard, the seat heater that warmed his bottom on cold winter mornings—all of these he tried with mounting pleasure.
How the Car Radio Sealed the Deal
On a whim, the new owner turned on the radio.
     • His favorite classical music station came on in splendid quadraphonic sound that ricocheted around the interior.
     • He pushed the second button; it was his favorite news station.
     • The third button brought the old reliable talk station that kept him awake on long trips.
     • The fourth button was set to his daughter's favorite rock station.
     • In fact, every button was set to his specific tastes.
     The new owner knew the car was smart, but was it psychic?
     The mechanic at Lexus noted the radio settings on his trade-in and duplicated them on the new Lexus. Jackson's friend was delighted.
     Suddenly this was his car now—through and through!

Lexus Corporate Policy?
Whose idea was resetting the buttons?
     Was it the policy of the dealership, or did it come from Lexus on high?
     Apparently it was the technician's idea.
     Delight a customer and continue to delight that customer, and you will have a customer for life (which—for an auto mechanic and all of us working stiffs—translates into steady income and corporate growth).
The Cost?
What this technician did for Jackson's friend cost Lexus nothing. Not one red cent. Yet it solidified the relationship.
     Customer delight? More like customer delirium! During the coming years, Lexus would have to screw up big time to negate that divine moment and cause the owner to switch to a Jag, a Merc or a Beamer.

Takeaways to Consider
• "Always under-promise and over-deliver.”
—Marilyn Black, legendary direct marketing consultant.

• "When the product arrives, ideally it should be better than what the customer expected."
—Marilyn Black

• The secret of successful marketing and fulfillment is to get inside the heads and under the skin of your customers—think how they think, feel what they feel—and literally become your own customer. In that mindset, everything becomes obvious.

• When your product arrives, it should be ready to use. The customer should be able to plug it in and listen to it or watch it, wear it, hang it on the wall and admire it, drive it, fly it or open it and read it.

• A three-word deal killer: “Batteries not included.” If you’re buying a Tesla, that’s one thing. But on a small purchase, c’mon. What’s the convenience of a few AAs or AAAs gonna do to your P&L?

• When Peggy and I ran our WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and direct mail archive of samples, we always included a Business Reply Envelope with a bill. Why force a paying customer to come up with a blank envelope, address it to us, find a stamp and lick it? And then remember to mail it? Chances are the customer would lay the bill aside and mail in the payment when he got around to it. The 37¢ reply postage guaranteed we’d get paid quickly.

• Fast forward 8 years. When Peggy and I sold the newsletter and moved to Philadelphia to take over Target Marketing magazine. The geeky little corporate controller ordered no more BREs. The company had never done it before and these were a needless expense. The green-eyeshade gnomes wanted to show the new husband-and-wife intruders who had the real power.

• Before committing to a final fulfillment package, make up five dummies that include the product and all the accompanying literature and send them (on a prearranged basis) to five strangers with no skin in the game as a test. If all five get the product up and running with as little fuss as possible, go with the package.

Williams Sonoma’s SNAFU and Amazing Redemption

A highlight of the holiday season was the legendary gathering at the Jacksons’ farmhouse in Delaware. Always filled to overflowing with friends, relatives, business associates, neighbors and members of the local chamber of commerce—it was always a stunner with an array of foods, drinks and wines that would rival a Michelin four-star restaurant in Lyons.
     A number of years ago, Betts planned the menu, and the Jacksons gave each other $1,500 worth of kitchen gear from Williams-Sonoma as their main gifts to go under the Christmas tree.
     Don placed the order in plenty of time for Christmas delivery. The order never arrived. Christmas morning with nothing under the tree was bleak—made bleaker by the knowledge that Betts needed the new implements for the upcoming holiday party in three days.
     On December 26th, Don called Williams Sonoma and told his sad story to the customer service rep who answered the phone.
     The rep relayed that combination of factors was involved: (1) a Federal Express slowdown, (2) a computer glitch in Williams-Sonoma’s eastern distribution center and (3) unexpected snow all conspired to delay the order.

Williams Sonoma Saves the Day (and the Party)!
The rep on the phone did not even pause. "Here's what I'm going to do for you," he said:
• “First, I'm going to reassemble the order and get it out to you by FedEx overnight, so you'll have it tomorrow morning. Guaranteed.”

• “Second, I'm going to enclose merchandise return labels, so when the old order arrives, you can slap the labels on the packages and call Fed Ex to take them away.”

• “Third, I'm going to forgive all shipping costs—for the original order, for the returns and for this new order that you'll get tomorrow morning.”
• “And fourth, I'm going to send you a present—a thank you for your patience and for being a member of Williams-Sonoma family."

     Jackson hung up the phone feeling better.
     The next day, the merchandise arrived as promised, together with the return labels. A giant, top-of-the-line, blue-glass turkey baster was the free gift.
     The Jacksons were delighted. The party went off as planned and was a gas (as usual)!

Takeaways to Consider
 "When the relationship is as smooth as silk, the customer may feel unloved. For example, if everything from Williams-Sonoma had arrived in time to put under the Christmas tree, we may well have taken the company for granted. Would we not, then, entertain offers from Chef's Catalog or Colonial Garden Kitchens? Only when Williams-Sonoma blew it and then made good did we realize how much we were loved."
—Don Jackson

"Properly handled, disgruntled customers, can be your best customers."
—Judith Schalit, Contributor
   2,239 Testes Secrets tor Direct Marketing Success

• “Don’t assume people are happy if the don’t complain.”
­—Judith Schalit

"Times of adversity and customer screw-ups may be the only times when you can really show your customers how much you love them." —Malcolm Decker

“Always try to turn a marketing disaster into a marketing opportunity.”
­—Lester Wunderman

• Williams Sonoma’s fulfillment-system design had a built-in short-circuit contingency whereby in an emergency an order could be shot to the top of the list and filled instantly.

• Does yours?

• Imagine the consequences if the rep had said, "Oh, gee, Mr. Jackson, lemme talk to my supervisor to see what we can do, and I will call you back tomorrow.”

• The telephone rep was empowered to make a decision on the spot.

• Are yours?

• I remember the incredibly stupid manifesto by an online marketer of fresh flowers: "We guarantee to resolve every customer dispute within 72 hours."


Word count:1423
At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.

Denny Hatch
The St. James
200 West Washington Square, #3007
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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