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    Published on: March 13, 2012

    by Michael Sansolo

    According to the simple philosophy of Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, these days we often see a sad corollary that with great power comes no responsibility. This, too, is part of the world of the social web.

    We see it demonstrated all the time, whether it’s cyber-bullying in American schools or portrayed on the television show “Glee,” incredible rumors about celebrities or politicians e mailed to us constantly, or even a sudden web phenomena around a Ugandan warlord. In a world where everyone is a fount of news, how do we know what is and isn’t true?

    The social web is an amazing force of social change. Just consider all that has happened around the globe in the past year fueled in large part by social networking. While Facebook isn’t solely responsible for bringing down leaders in Tunisia, Libya or Egypt, it sure helped.

    Then comes the story of Joseph Kony 2012 and the Invisible Children’s campaign. If this were a simple story, I’d be writing today about the incredible power of the social web and how a viral video managed to snag 50 million views in a matter of hours (70 million in a few days), in the process shining a light on a nightmarish situation in Central Africa. In the course of the video, an official from the World Court even talks about the power of social networking to right societal wrongs and bring a criminal like Kony to justice. But as we all know, the world is full of stories that seem simple until you do just a little checking.

    So it goes with Joseph Kony 2012. Clearly, he’s a horrible guy who deserves a jail cell at best, but the story wasn’t quite as straightforward as presented. The situation in Uganda is more complex than any of us know, the danger posed by Kony today might be incredibly overstated and the altruism of the video’s authors might well be questionable.

    And that’s just one day on the social web. Yikes.

    The reality of the social network is that as usual we have to take everything with a grain or two of salt. Remember the saying, you should believe half of what you see and none of what you hear?. It’s time for a new adage regarding the social web and the percentage of what we should believe is dropping daily. If you don’t believe me, I know some Nigerian princess who has a lot of money to send you. (Yet another common web hoax.)

    There’s no denying the power of the social web. The Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) study I’ve been writing about for weeks here on MNB details the incredible pace of use and the power to influence and partner with shoppers like never before. (The study, which I’m an active part of delivering, can be found here.) The social web is a reality and it demands the attention of every business in more ways that we can imagine.

    With more than one billion people using social networks worldwide, it’s clear that we are seeing the birth of a transformative technology. But in many ways it is also like the wild west; undeveloped and alluring, yet lawless and dangerous. It appears that we all have a lot to learn and we must do it on the fly.

    The reality is that you can’t possibly navigate this new world with your eyes closed. You need them wide open, just cautious to everything they see. Transformations are never simple or easy especially when they happen in real time around the world.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    Not by Kevin Coupe

    Got an email yesterday from MNB user Larry Monahan, who noted that his daughter recently wrote her college application essay on the subject of innovation, and used the supermarket shopping experience as the canvas on which to sketch her thoughts. Monahan was proud of his daughter’s efforts and wanted to share them with me...and I, in turn, want to share them with you. See what you think...

    It all starts with a list. Each week you keep track of what you will need next time at the grocery store. Inventorying your shopping list is time consuming, and there are always items you happen to forget. Furthermore, clipping coupons is a hassle along with looking through weekly ads for the best deal. Existing technology such as bar code scanners, smart phones, and voice recognition can be combined to generate an efficient weekly shopping list.

    Here’s how it would work: multiple bar code scanners would be strategically placed in the consumer’s kitchen, especially near refrigerators, pantries, trash cans, and recycling bins. Ideally, it would match the architecture of the house on a wireless network. When a product is getting low or empty, the consumer would simply scan the UPC on the scanner to add that item to the list. Voice recognition could be another way to make a list for items lacking a UPC including fresh fruit and vegetables. Finally, a consumer could physically type in the items needed on an application for a smartphone. The ongoing shopping list could be accessed from any computer or television with internet access. Every member of the family would also have the opportunity to add items to the shopping list. This would eliminate the primary shopper from canvasing everyone for their individual needs for the week. Placing the virtual shopping list on a wired or wireless network provides around the clock availability to the consumer for spontaneous product needs.

    Once the weekly list is complete, the consumer wants to find the best deals. This can be achieved by linking the lists to grocery store ads found on websites. Also, by linking the lists to individual manufactures, the consumer can take advantage of online coupons. With the consumers preselected store list, the program will review the best pricing and provide a shopping recommendation for the consumer. The list may be divided up based on preference for shopping through best pricing and quality. It also recognizes some shoppers are more inclined to shop at multiple stores or enjoy the convenience of just one store. Now the consumer has a couple of options. The first is the choice to go on the traditional shopping trip with pre-printed coupons. The second option is electronically sending the list directly to the store for either pick-up or delivery, based on the schedule preference of the consumer. The store employees would shop for the consumers order. Once completed the consumer would be notified for the delivery options or establish a weekly delivery time.

    Through this process invention, the consumer’s purchase history and product preferences would be data based. This information could be used to alert the shopper of special deals and recommend orders similar to Genius on Apple products. Customized support coordinated based on consumers’ needs and willingness to pay would assist one in choosing exact locations for bar code scanners, preference for stores, and pick-up or delivery scheduling.

    At the store level, the ability to anticipate planned purchases prepares their own ordering and inventory. Not only can this technology be available to consumers to alleviate inefficiency, but the grocery store might want to invest to build loyalty with their customers. Food manufacturers also might want to increase their supply with the new technology, as they would benefit from having a new way to reach their consumers. As every transaction is done electronically, it would eliminate the need for paper lists, store advertisements, and hard-copy coupons. This invention would save gas for those shoppers that routinely forget items and have to make multiple trips to the store. The application of this invention is not only convenient for grocery shopping lists, but also food pantries, and businesses themselves. At food pantries, the same approach would be used to inventory and identify the higher usage categories. For the consumer, the benefits of this systematic innovation is not limited to grocery store shopping but also clothing stores, hardware stores, and other various consumer needs. However, the application might not be for everybody due to its price, and might take a while to integrate each level in the system.

    A large initial investment would be required for the whole system including the hardware and programming and consumers would need some training in how to use the technology. Overall, despite the system challenges, the case for innovation is clear, consumers want to leverage technology to save money and time, especially with their weekly shopping experience.
    KC's View:
    Forget college. Somebody ought to offer this kid a job.

    Just kidding. (I don’t want to get the reputation as being anti-college.)

    What’s impressive to me about this is the extent to which she has thought it through and finds this way of interacting with food retail completely relevant to the way she wants to live her life. If retailers are to achieve any kind of long-term relevance, they also need to be thinking this way. Or, at the very least, hiring young people who think this way.

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    The New York Times had a piece reflecting on the fact that the generation of shoppers raised on e-commerce may not put the same premium on personalized customer service as their parents did ... but that some retailers are seeing in this shift an opportunity to meet these younger customers on their own terms.

    “Some stores and brands are embracing the change by creating new personal touches that feature gadgets rather than a doting sales staff,” the Times writes. “Bobbi Brown has touch-screen televisions to demonstrate the perfect smoky eye, something that was once the exclusive domain of makeup artists. The basketball star LeBron James’s shoe store in Miami has 50 iPads to describe its merchandise. Macy’s is testing cosmetics stations where tablets offer reviews and tips. And at C. Wonder, shoppers use a touchpad to personalize the lighting and music in dressing rooms (there is also a button in case, olden-days style, they need to call for help).”

    The Times continues: “Companies are adding the technology now because it has gotten cheap enough to make it feasible and because Apple and other tablet and touch-screen makers are increasing their sales efforts. Stores also don’t want to risk losing those customers who are not content shopping from home but nonetheless prefer Pinterest recommendations, Zappos reviews and Fashism feedback to interacting with someone behind the counter.”

    And it goes farther than that.

    The Times reports that “in Nordstrom’s case, customers have surprised the retailer. Nordstrom introduced an app in the fall that executives expected people would use remotely to order items while they were watching TV or waiting for a train. In addition to that, though, customers used the app while shopping at Nordstrom rather than approach the sales staff ... Nordstrom has added Wi-Fi to almost all its stores, in part so its app will work fast, and is testing charging stations and clusters of iPads and computers. It does not limit what people can do on the in-store devices.”

    Erik Nordstrom, the company’s president of stores, tells the Times that “how the customer is defining service and wants service to be delivered is changing pretty rapidly, and a lot of that is driven by technology,” and he says he has one overriding goal: “to have our stores be relevant.”
    KC's View:
    I’m intrigued by this paragraph from the story...

    The replacement of salespeople with screens is not without its detractors. Some people worry about jobs, though stores say that for now they are not getting rid of employees to accommodate their digital counterparts. And Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that shoppers lost something intrinsic to the human experience when they avoided salespeople.

    It seems to me that part of the reason some shoppers are choosing technology over people is that the personal interactions weren’t all that pleasant to begin with; this ought to be a wake-up call to retailers that have not put a premium on the importance of front-line employees.

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    Intriguing piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day by Jonah Lerner, based on a book he has written entitled "Imagine: How Creativity Works.” In essence, he argues that “creativity is not magic, and there's no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It's a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it.”

    Some excerpts:

    “New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.”

    “Imagination was once thought to be a single thing, separate from other kinds of cognition. The latest research suggests that this assumption is false. It turns out that we use ‘creativity’ as a catchall term for a variety of cognitive tools, each of which applies to particular sorts of problems and is coaxed to action in a particular way.”

    “The new research also suggests how best to approach the thorniest problems. We tend to assume that experts are the creative geniuses in their own fields. But big breakthroughs often depend on the naive daring of outsiders. For prompting creativity, few things are as important as time devoted to cross-pollination with fields outside our areas of expertise.”

    The story makes the point that there are different kinds of creativity - the kind that comes from sweat and hard work, and the kind that comes suddenly, without warning, because the person in question has put himself or herself in a position to be receptive to inspiration. (Apparently, relaxation helps. So does booze. Though the combination is not a guarantee of creative genius.)

    Indeed, Lehrer makes the point that the human brain is incredibly adaptable and able to be creative:

    “If different kinds of creative problems benefit from different kinds of creative thinking, how can we ensure that we're thinking in the right way at the right time? When should we daydream and go for a relaxing stroll, and when should we keep on sketching and toying with possibilities?

    “The good news is that the human mind has a surprising natural ability to assess the kind of creativity we need. Researchers call these intuitions ‘feelings of knowing,’ and they occur when we suspect that we can find the answer, if only we keep on thinking. Numerous studies have demonstrated that, when it comes to problems that don't require insights, the mind is remarkably adept at assessing the likelihood that a problem can be solved—knowing whether we're getting ‘warmer’ or not, without knowing the solution.”
    KC's View:
    I’m particularly fascinated buy the 10 rules for lighting the creative spark offered by Lehrer; apparently, one is more likely to be innovative if one is relaxing in a blue room located in a big city,listening or watching stand-up comedy, after having just come home from a trip abroad. Go figure.

    At any rate, it is a fascinating piece, and it looks like a great book.

    You can read the entire article here.

    And you can find out more about the book here.

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    The Boston Globe has a story about how nine years ago, the concept of “portable computers that could scan bar codes and let customers ring up purchases as they strolled through supermarket aisles” seemed like it was ready to catch on in a big way, and yet today Ahold-owned Stop & Shop “remains the only major US retailer whose customers can use the hand-held scanners, which were designed by Modiv Media Inc. But the Quincy company says the surging popularity of smartphones could now make the concept more practical for retailers.”

    Roughly a third of Americans own smart phones, the story notes, which means that with the proper applications installed, they don’t need expensive store-provided wands to scan items - they can just use their own smart phones. And even “Modiv has converted its system to apps that let customers scan bar codes with their smartphones,” the story says.
    KC's View:
    I suppose that some might criticize Stop & Shop for being too early to the party, but I would not be one of those people - I think the industry needs companies that are willing to try new things and get out there in front of innovations. Sure, in retrospect it seems like it may have been a little premature, especially when you think about all the technology advancements of the past decade. But good for Stop & Shop for being willing to pioneer these systems and stay with them.

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    Technorati reports that Walmart is acquiring Social Calendar, a Facebook application that “allows you to get birthday and holiday reminders by email and SMS, and to post personalized photo cards and other virtual greetings on friends’ Facebook Walls on their birthdays.”

    The story goes on to note that “this is one of many such acquisitions for Wal-mart, acquired technologies and companies that can help add personalization, mobile, social media and other functionality to the buying process, including: Kosmix, Small Society, and OneRiot. The company also recently invested in Yihaodian, a B2C eCommerce company based in China.”
    KC's View:
    It is called building up an arsenal for the battle with Amazon.

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    Now that the merger of Bi-LO and Winn-Dixie has been completed, the combined company said that it eventually will establish its central headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, Winn-Dixie’s hometown, because it is “centrally located within its eight-state operating area. While both companies enjoy a strong heritage of support from their local communities, the Jacksonville -based infrastructure is best positioned to host the combined Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie support center, corporate office and distribution facilities. At the same time, the company plans to maintain a strong regional presence in Greenville both in regard to distribution and local store support needs."
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    • Supervalu announced yesterday that as part of its commitment to sustainably source wild-caught seafood, it “has entered into a partnership with the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) to implement a new, comprehensive procurement policy to ensure sustainable sourcing of farm-raised seafood. The company officially unveiled this agreement in conjunction with their participation at The International Boston Seafood Show,” saying that it will “will adopt Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification for the company's aquaculture procurement policy.”

    • The Sacramento Bee reports that that Sunflower Farmers Market stores scheduled to open in the near future now will have those openings delayed by weeks or months as the company moves ahead with its takeover by Sprouts Farmers Markets.

    "It doesn't make sense to open them as Sunflowers, then three weeks later change the names and all the signage," Sprouts President Doug Sanders tells the paper.

    • Coming on the heels of the recent announcement by Campbell Soup Company that it will end the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in its cans, Kettle Cuisine is publicizing the fact that it is using BPA-free packaging in its 10 varieties of soups, chilis, and chowders.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    • Safeway announced yesterday that Steve Frisby, President of its Portland Division, will assume added responsibility for the company's Seattle Division. He replaces Greg Sparks, who is leaving to pursue another business opportunity.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 13, 2012

    We got a number of emails responding to yesterday’s piece highlighting the Los Angeles Times column by Michael Hiltzik about what he described as a horrible customer service ethic on the part of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team.

    MNB reader Tim McGuire wrote:

    I fully agree with Michael Hiltzik's comments on customer service, and your commentary on the same - but surprisingly for a man addicted to the internet in all forms, I think you missed the root cause of the problem in this situation.  "The fiasco involves advance ticket packages. These come in the form of vouchers that have to be redeemed in person for seats in designated sections."

    Why would any organization enable the easy part of the transaction online (buying a package of tickets) but then require the complex portion (choosing individual dates, games, sections and seats) to be completed in person?  Every one of those 7,000 fans could have easily done their selections in the comfort of their own home - at even lower cost to the Angels than staffing half the ticket windows - with a much higher level of customer satisfaction.  This type of transaction is why Al Gore invented the internet!

    Excellent point.

    MNB user Clay Dockery wrote:

    I couldn’t agree more!!!!  Whether it is the airline industry or the banking industry, the conclusion is that their time is much more valuable than yours.  I was in circular hell with United last week.  I went to their website to change a flight and after putting in all requisite information, was told that I needed to call the 800 number.  I called the 800 number and again had to punch in the duplicative information.  After punching the keypad for about 4 minutes, the friendly recording told me that the volume of calls was too high and I should make the change on line.  Then the phone immediately disconnected!  Equally absurd is the banking industries practice of having you put account numbers, SSNs, date of birth, challenge questions, etc and then immediately upon being transferred to a live individual, asking for all of the information again.

    The first company that can figure out that we contact them only when we have a need (and part of that need is QUICK resolution to a problem) and they address it quickly will have a business model built for success.

    But another reader made what I think is a legitimate point:

    In response to the article about the poor customer service from the Angels.  I have to first fully disclose that I am an avid baseball fan and a diehard Angel fan my whole life. 

    You have to view the entire Angel experience under Arte Moreno as opposed to looking at one individual item and rendering a decision that they don’t care about their customers.  One of the first things Arte Moreno did when he bought the Angels was to lower beer prices, find an affordable hat for $6 that anybody could buy and make it affordable for the average family to attend a ballgame.  With these changes, the Angels attendance has soared since Moreno has taken over and continually ranks near the top in all of baseball.

    The fans love Arte because he cares about the two most important things to a baseball fan…..the fan and winning.  Taking one incident and painting a broad stroke over the entire organization is not only inaccurate but careless.  I do not doubt the frustration the people felt about the ticket process, but one bad day does not make a bad person or bad organization. 

    The real test is how the organization learns from a mistake.  My guess is you would want your blog to be judged by the entire body of work and not one isolated incident.

    True enough. And I appreciate the context.

    But...the sad reality is that we often are judged by the last thing we did ... especially if we screwed up in a really public way.

    I actually think that it was perhaps the Angels’ biggest mistake was to be - in Hiltzik’s words - “truculently defensive,” as opposed to apologetic, when confronted about the situation.

    Organizations and people can recover from mistakes. But the first thing you have to do is own them ... and then move fast to repair the damage.

    Lots of email continues to come in about so-called “pink slime” in ground beef...

    MNB user Stewart Sundholm wrote:

    For me - the issue is the labeling. Product using that ammonium hydroxide process can be labelled as 'beef' - with no mention of the other ingredients used in the process.

    Offer us transparency - and let consumers decide what we want to purchase.

    From another MNB user:

    I liked your comment on ammonium hydroxide being a natural ingredient. It made me recall that cobra venom consists of natural compounds and, depending on what the cobra eats, cobra venom may even be organic.

    From yet another reader:

    First, I am not in the beef industry, however, I can sympathize with their plight.

    First, the chemical issue.  I  understand that Ammonium Hydroxide doesn't exactly sound appetizing,but it is a bit overblown.  Example--- Would you dare process your pasta by boiling it in a bath of di-hydrogen monoxide mixed with sodium chloride and then serve this pasta drenched in chemicals to your FAMILY for DINNER!???!!!  Incredibly,  this just means that you would boil your pasta in water with some salt in it.... but you can see how certain wording can turn anything into a PR nightmare.  Bottom line is that all chemical names sound abhorrent to us, but everything has a chemical name whether it is totally natural and organic or if it is poison synthesized in a lab.  If they came up with a non-chemical name for ammonium hydroxide like "salt" or "lime" or "talc" or "lye" it probably wouldn't seem so awful.  Did you know that canned peeled tomatoes are commonly peeled chemically using lye (aka sodium hydroxide) to melt the skin off?  I don't see any outrage over this 60+ year old practice.

    Back to beef-- Well, it may not be the highest quality meat product, and the name "pink slime" is certainly not the most flattering, I do think that there is a place for this product.  They have found a way to utilize more of the animal and feed humans safely with a product that tastes good and is low cost.  Yes, it takes some processing and no one likes to see "how the sausage is made," but what is the alternative?  Throw this material out and waste it?  Feed it to animals? We have a growing world population, which is increasingly becoming middle class in developing countries, and demanding tremendous quantities of  protein-- and supplies are extremely tight.  So I believe we need to utilize as much as possible.  There is also a huge environmental impact of raising more cattle (carbon footprint is incredibly high), as well as the fact that consumers are already extremely strapped for money and may already be having a hard time affording burgers.  Bottom line-- I think the utilization of this material is quite a net positive in the overall analysis.  Sure, it's not Kobe beef, but then, I don't think it purports to be.

    Of course, I wouldn't disagree with your general philosophy that there should be transparency and that in this case, it could be labeled something to the effect of-- "contains up to 25% processed beef scraps."

    And, from yet another MNB user:

    The whole ammonium hydroxide / pink slime discussion is a pretty good part of the reason why my wife and I don’t buy ground beef. Ever. From anyone.

    We use a grinder (an almost forgotten part of everyone’s kitchen arsenal back in the day) and we buy beef. You put the beef in the grinder and you turn the handle and voila! Ground beef. Beef is the primary ingredient in our ground beef. The other ingredient is a modest amount of effort.

    Ground turkey and chicken and a host of other things pass through the grinder from time to time. It is a compact metal grinder which can mount with a clamp on the edge of the counter and we have used it for some forty years. We make it up in bulk and freeze it in advance.

    As we are both past 60 and turning the handle may be  a tad more difficult than it used to be, we are thinking about buying a motor operated grinder. They come in all sorts of sizes but cost a couple hundred dollars. So far it has been easier to just turn the crank once in a while.

    If we just had a better group memory we would know that the nonsense that some companies use to squeeze out a few pennies profit does not mean we have to take it. Grow your own, grind your own – same attitude.

    On another subject, MNB user Bob DeNinno wrote:

    When I read your piece on Walmart putting in more self-checkouts, I was reminded of my previous career with convenience store giant, 7-Eleven.  In the early 90's there was a huge push to install Pay-at-the-Pump services (credit card readers)  on the fuel dispensers.  Initially, there was concern because the customer wasn't going into the convenience store to potentially purchase other things.  What we discovered was that many customers (me included) just wanted fuel and didn't want a Slurpee or a Coke or didn't smoke (so no cigarettes) and liked the convenience of pumping fuel and getting on to their destination.  Well, fuel sales, and inside convenience sales increased at sites where the credit card readers were installed on the fuel dispensers.  I think the same thing holds true with other retailers.  I like going into a grocer that has self-checkouts.  Generally, I know what I want, I get it and want to get on my way.  In fact, I am less likely to return to a retailer when my first visit indicates no self-checkout.

    I think it also is worth referring to the New York Times we referenced above about how some retailers are using technology to provide more customized and personalized service. It all seems to be part of the same continuum...

    Also regarding Walmart, but about another issue, MNB user Mark Morton wrote:

    Just a couple of comments on Wal-Mart and their position on sustainability. I think Wal-Mart does a fairly good job in leading the industry on these issues by supporting sustainability on packaging and shipping material and supporting sustainable suppliers that by from/and produce products from outside the US. The support of a politician that does not "vote sustainable" does not mean the retailer isn't a supporter of 'sustainable principles". There is more involved with the support of a representative. Issues such as taxes and taxation, regulation and regulatory enforcement, and other issues. To frame the issue as simply sustainable or unsustainable is simply too narrow a frame to look through.

    We continue to get emails about various kinds of customer service experiences.

    One MNB user wrote:

    We had what I thought was a small problem with what was probably a 2-3 month old Mr. Coffee coffee maker.

    The "strong brew" choice apparently wasn't working and we were looking for what we had to do to correct it.

    The net of the story was a pleasant Customer Service rep. told us, after asking a few questions, that we couldn't fix it, the machine was faulty. She arranged to send us a new machine, different than the one we had and probably better.

    It arrived a few days later with Mr. Coffee paying shipping charges both ways - shipping us the new one and us returning the old one.

    MNB user Donna Burns wrote:

    In early winter a local dry cleaner (Urban Valet) in my city advertised they would clean Ugg boots and make them new again.($25 charge)  Considering these boots are a necessity in our town I decided it would be cheaper to get my daughter's Uggs cleaned rather than purchasing a new pair.

    An important note to add:  I have never used this dry cleaner.

    I dropped them off and they told me it would be approximately 10 days to get them back as they were sent to an outside company for cleaning.

    They called 10 days later and told me they were ready for pick up.  I rushed down there as there was now snow on the ground and my daughter needed them desperately.  She wore them that night and when she came home she said there was a hole in them!  I checked and sure enough, on the seam there was now a gaping hole.

    I called the dry cleaner the next day and was connected to the Customer Service Manager.  She was amazing!  So professional and helpful.  She apologized for the damage and said she would REPLACE the Uggs at NO COST!  Remember, it is not their store that actually does the cleaning service on these items.  She asked me to ask my daughter which replacement pair she wanted up to the retail cost of a new pair of Uggs!  I could not believe it.  Sure enough 4 days later we received a brand new pair of Uggs!

    I have shared this story with all my neighbors and friends and now all of our dry cleaning will be done with Urban Valet.

    Great customer service and locally owned!

    Great story.

    MNB user Art Martin wrote:

    Some Big Box Store managers know how to act as if they were running their own, local store.

    We recently bought a microwave and while having it installed, discovered something had been dropped on it and dented the top. The installer called the Home Depot where we bought the unit and they did not have an identical replacement, but another store did. I agreed to buy a new microwave at the second store and return the original where my purchase was credited.

    In addition, the store manager credited my account an additional $100 for my "patience". That's the way to keep a customer coming back.

    And, on another subject, from MNB user Matt Nitzberg:

    I’m responding to the article on retailers wearing out their email welcome.

    While overactive email campaigns are an issue for customers (and therefore, for marketers), email frequency is not the core problem.

    The core problem is that the easy frequency provided by digital channels amplifies any underlying lack of relevance and respect.

    In other words, if your company isn’t committed to a customer-centric marketing approach, increasing your communication frequency makes that even more obvious and annoying to customers.

    As customers migrate from deleting individual emails (“I don’t want to read that”) to opting-out from companies (“I never want to hear from them again”), marketers face a significant risk:  Losing the ability to connect with customers.

    It can be helpful to consider that customers are becoming CMOs, defining their own marketing mix and deciding which marketers and messages will make the cut.

    In that onrushing future, only marketers who consistently put the customer first – in targeting, content, invitations, offers, and design – will be seen and heard.

    MNB user Bobby Martyna chimed in:

    I've often placed orders with e-tailers, resulting in getting on their list for an e-mail every day, sometimes more than one.   After realizing how much time I spend clicking the delete key,  I usually go through an unsubscribe exercise and kill off anyone that's been too annoying.

    But here's something worth noting:  when clicking on one unsubscribe link, I got to a page that allowed me to customize how often I receive e-mails.  That's a big improvement -- so instead of unsubscribing fully, I clicked on the once/month option.  What would be even better would be if I could click on the types of products or promotions I'm interested in seeing, in addition to the frequency.

    This is pretty easy to implement with modern e-newsletter and CRM technology -- and every e-tailer should step up to it.
    KC's View: