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I recently had a consumer experience that impressed me and I wanted to share it. My wife and kids were having dinner at her mom’s house one night while I had to work a bit late. They’re not big seafood lovers and I think shrimp is my favorite food on the planet, so around mid afternoon that day, I started formulating this loose plan to cook a new shrimp dish that I had been putting together in my head for a while.

I finally finished the projects that I had been working on, checked the fridge to see what we already had on hand (see the actual evolution of the recipe here) and determined that all I needed were some shrimp and some shredded parmesan cheese. I trotted on over to our local Publix market where I knew I could buy a half pound or so of previously frozen, but wild-caught shrimp for under $9, which was within my budget. I made my selection and the nice guy in the seafood department put them in a plastic bag and wrapped that in nice white butcher paper. He sealed it with a label with the weight, price and barcode on it and handed it to me and said, “Have a great meal!”

As I walked over to the cheese section for the Parmesan, I glanced down at my neat little package of shrimp and I stopped in my tracks. I had just realized that there was printed a full recipe for Shrimp Alfredo. Now, I just have to say that (even though I already had a recipe in mind) the first thought that struck me was, “Wow. That is really thoughtful of them. And creative, to use such a potentially dead space to add real value to the purchase.”

It occurred to me that it’s things like this that make truly great relationships between customers, service providers, families and friends. Going the extra mile, above and beyond, surprising and exceeding expectations. I can tell you that the little extra service created an instant loyalty to Publix in many ways.

Here are some other “little extras” I’ve seen in the marketplace that typically cost very little to implement, but add a disproportionately greater value perception to the recipient:

  • Red roses given to ladies on Wednesdays at Gerald’s Tires in the Charleston, SC area.
  • The 11th blank envelope in a 10-pack of notecards – just in case you make a mistake on an address, you’re not stuck with an envelope-less notecard.
  • Stores that use frosted or perforated covers to mask any suggestive magazine covers at the checkout lanes. That keeps awkward or untimely questions from our young kids to a minimum.
  • Free WiFi is a refreshing added benefit at any food establishment or hotel.
  • In my early years, I worked for a copy company that had bowls of bubble gum and a fresh popcorn popping booth in the lobby for customers who were waiting for their orders. By popular demand, popcorn and bubble gum treats began accompanying delivered orders too. It was always funny to me to walk into a big Broad Street law firm and have them ask, “Did you bring the popcorn?”
  • I love going to get my oil changed and have my car come out washed, vacuumed and smelling great, too.
  • Stores that offer a free expresso or glass of wine while you shop.

The thing with nearly all of these little extras is the element of surprise. They are typically unexpected. They create a great feeling for the recipient. They strengthen the relationship between a customer and an organization and, ultimately, I think that’s what it’s all about.

Let me know some of the little things YOU enjoy from the businesses you value…


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