Make Them Love You: Customer Service Lessons from Alice

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Recently, I stumbled across a new service called Alice that lets you buy all of your household essentials online, things like toilet paper, toothpaste, trash bags and so on. Alice is awesome, and as soon as I figured out just exactly how awesome Alice was, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew about the service.

Identify Your Customers’ Pain Points

I hate grocery shopping, especially for household items. I can be out of aluminum foil or coffee creamer for weeks before finally convincing myself to go to the store. There are many reasons why I dislike it so much, but here are the main two:

  1. I hate making grocery lists. It takes too long. I have to think of everything I’ve been running low on or out of for the past month or so, and I inevitably forget something, which means I either have to go without out the item until the next time I convince myself to do this chore, usually two or three months later, or I have to go back to get the item. Plus, the list must be organized, or else I’ll end up running from one end of a 20,000 sq.ft. store to the other (which, let’s face it, ends up happening at least once per shopping trip anyway, because of some big conspiracy going on at the big box stores).
  2. I hate the experience. I have to get ready and drive out to no less than two stores, because it’s impossible to get everything at one place, unless I go to one of the really unpleasant big box stores, which is a nightmare. Once I get there, I have to deal with parking, rude people, frustrated employees, long lines, price checks, loading the cart with the groceries, unloading the cart to check out, reloading the cart after checkout, and finally unloading the cart into my car, and then I get to go home, unload my car, and put all the groceries away, only to realize that I’ve forgotten something and to be discouraged, because I spent more money than I had planned, and a week later, I’ll need to do the entire process all over again.

Remove the Pain and Make Them Love You

Enter Alice (cue sound of choir). Alice solves my problems:

  1. Alice knows me very well. When I signed up for my account, I got to go through and pick out all of my favorite and commonly-used household items and put them into my own custom, always-there product shelf. When I’m ready to shop, all my favorite items and brands are waiting for me, and all I have to do is load them into my cart and check out (if I haven’t scheduled them to be delivered automatically).
  2. Alice will shop for me — automatically. I can set up my products to be delivered at specific times (say, toothpaste every two months and coffee filters every three). Alice will send me my items at preset times so that I no longer run out of things. Even if I do forget something, it only takes two or three business days for delivery, which is usually how long it takes me to convince myself to go to the store anyway.
  3. The price is right. Manufacturers can sell directly to me through Alice and as there are no inventory costs as with regular retailers, the savings are passed on to me. However, even if the items were priced the same, I still don’t have to take time out to worry about restocking the toothpaste. Plus, there are no shipping fees, so I save on gas, not to mention the aggravation.
  4. Alice looks after me. Just before checkout, Alice offers me some custom deals and coupons that I wouldn’t have otherwise found. Even if I don’t need the items just yet, Alice will save the discounts for me for a set time so that I can use them later.

But is It Real Love?

I could go on and on about Alice, and that’s really the point: I love this service and plan to tell everyone I know about it. Rarely do I get so excited about a company that I can’t wait to rave about them. That rarity is something that, if we’re smart, we can capitalize on within our own companies.

Make sure your customers love you, and I mean really love you:

  • To the point that they literally have trouble listing all of the ways,
  • To the point that they can’t wait to tell friends and family about you at every available opportunity, and
  • To the point that they would hate to have to live without you.

Find your customers’ pain points and solve them. More than that, turn something they once dreaded into something they actually enjoy.

What companies do you love and rave about at every opportunity, and why?

Photo by Flickr user aussiegall, licensed under CC 2.0

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