Bunn: An American Customer Experience

This is an off cycle post for me but after speaking at the Argyle Customer Care Leadership Forum last week I thought it would be appropriate to share an American customer experience. It was 2008 when I was in the market for a new coffee maker and with the economy in the tank I was determined to buy American made. However, it wasn’t as easy as I thought. So, I went to my local hardware store and started looking at coffee makers. I didn’t need anything fancy just wanted to make a pot of coffee and something that I wouldn’t have to replace after a few years.


What I found out was there is only one coffee maker made in America, Bunn. When I struggled to find a coffee maker at the store I asked a clerk and he said “Mr. Coffee”. Nope. Not even the iconic Mr. Coffee with the all American icon Joe DiMaggio as a spokesperson wasn’t made in America anymore. The clerk and I were both shocked so I settled on the Bunn. Bunn is normally known as an industrial coffee maker and if you have ever gone through a Dunkin Donuts you will notice that is all they use to make their coffee. It was more expensive than the others but it was made in Springfield, Il and I couldn’t help but support a business near where I grew up.


So, three years have passed and we have enjoyed the fact that an entire pot of coffee is brewed to perfection within 3 minutes. But as with anything, things break. And to be honest I think I may have contributed to the thermostat shorting out by pouring water in and then remembering to turn it on to heat up the water. So, I called Bunn. I got right through to an actual human being and the warrantee process was about as simple as it gets. No sending in the warrantee card, just read the number off the bottom of the coffee maker. I could have sworn it had been more than three years but the customer service professional said. “Yep, it is under warrantee and we will ship you a new one in 5-10 days. All I ask is you pack up the other and ship it back.” I was amazed and graciously agreed to ship back the old one in exchange for a brand new Bunn coffee maker. Try doing that with a coffee maker made in China.


5 Days later I received the new coffee maker. I went through the steps to setup, filling the reservoir with water, rinsing the carafe and plugged it in to begin heating the water. It is this type of simple service that creates loyal and brand advocates and it all starts with the front line. And the fact that Bunn actually wanted the broken maker back to be recycled was even more impressive. In this disposable age where we throw items out and replace it with the next one for $29.99 it was refreshing to see the benefits of buying American. I don’t know about you but I will gladly spend more for a quality product, superior customer service with a company that is passionate about recycling versus disposing any time.


Most consumers are more likely to write negative comments then they are positive so I felt I owed it to Bunn to let them know they got it right. Congratulations Bunn! You delivered an amazing American customer experience and return earned my loyal advocacy. I will never own another coffee maker. Thank you for delivering a quality product, excellent customer service and more importantly keeping the fine folks in Springfield, Il employed.



Social Intranet: Plan For Success

It was funny after all the team did to prepare and plan for any type of risk or failure during our social intranet rollout we forgot to plan for success. I guess we all assumed that something was bound to go wrong and many things did but we actually didn’t think, worry or plan for what would happen if the social intranet was wildly successful. And it was. Even before we had completed bring the site online we were already getting questions from employees. Where can I find employee resources?. How do I post? Can I upload a new profile photo? Can I create a group for my team? Yes, Yes and Yes! This is exactly the type of interaction and excitement you want to create around any engagement marketing program. The problem was we actually, didn’t factor in how much that demand would be and how much time it would take us to help field all the requests.

Thankfully, our power users who we kept engaged throughout the project really jumped in and to our surprise employees started answering each others questions. We had hoped that this would be the case but it exceeded our wildest expectations. All the benefits we had communicated to the executive sponsors around cross team collaboration, breaking down communication silo’s, nurturing teamwork and fostering innovation was happening much faster that we anticipated. We had expected this would be the case but there is always the wild card factor and that is the employee. If the communication isn’t clear and excitement isn’t there may not be the motivation for employees to adopt a new and modern way to work. But there was, is and continues to be.

In the last three months the social intranet has been adopted by all 65,000 employees worldwide and have made it their own. The phase from the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come” doesn’t work often when converting traditional marketing programs to a modern social platform but in this case it was true and worth all the effort and frustrations to see through the teams success.

I’ll be speaking more about this and customer experience at the Execunet Event this Friday October 17th at the Waltham, MA Conference Center. Look forward to seeing you there.

“Get Shit Done!” Social Community Marketing

I have been thinking about writing a Social Community Marketing called Get Shit Done! I had planned to write about 60000 words but now I’m thinking less is better. The name was the unexpected result of a conversation I had with my team three years ago. I had just joined a new company and took over leading community strategy which hadn’t had much attention. It was pretty clear that the team was frustrated, wasn’t able to make any progress and couldn’t get consensus on where to start. As I listened to the discussions I said something rather innocent but would serve as the teams motivating rally cry.

I think it started with something like, “First life is to short not to enjoy what you do and we should be able to have fun doing it. What makes what we do fun is having a sense of accomplishment and seeing you are making progress. And at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how big your team is, or how big your budget is or how important your project is the company. The only thing that matters is who get’s shit done! That’s it.”

After not being able to make any progress, our little three person team was able to scrap up $150K budget and proceeded to do more in the next 6 months than had been accomplished in the previous 4 years. That got some peoples attention not to mention that the team began to feel really good about what we were able to accomplish and were excited to start planning out the next program and roadmap of items to address. So the next year our little team got some assistance with an executive sponsor and were able to add headcount and increase our budget significantly. But be careful what you wish for that meant there were expectations to achieve and achieve rapidly.

Well we did that as well knocking out the quickest social community deployment in history of the company within 4 months from the time we signed the contract to go live. BAM!… That has led to many other fun projects but the rally cry is still at the heart of what we do. Get Shit Done!…

So, I thought it would be good to write all this down and actual share from someone who has actually done it. I don’t know about you but I am tired of these so called Guru’s who what to give you advice when they haven’t ever even managed a marketing program ever let alone had to launch a social initiative. Oh and for the record. If you refer to yourself as a Guro or a Social Media Expert, your resume immediately goes in the trash. Because no one is the master of anything and if you aren’t still learning then you aren’t trying.

Stay tuned for more… I am researching self publishing even though I have a few contacts but will start releasing chapters here as I feel the are ready for reading.

Amy’s Baking Company: Social Media Disaster or Pure Marketing Genius?

So is the old saying true “even bad press is good press”? If you haven’t seen the latest viral social media meltdown from Amy’s Baking Company it is nothing short of entertaining like watching a train wreck. Clearly all the buzz in the #SocMed industry is what not to do when dealing with critics but I have a slightly different point of view. Is this a disaster or pure marketing genius. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to visit and get insulted and kind of reminds me of the “Seinfeld: Soup Nazi” episode.

Clearly, this is not the way to treat your customers but imagine if this was all on purpose and or staged much like many of the viral videos are now on the intranet. If this is all an act then it is pure marketing genius as they now have more than 86,000 likes on their Facebook page and wouldn’t doubt if their business has increased since this meltdown began last week. Interesting as I just now check they are claiming that their Facebook page was hacked, which is entirely possible but again how convenient to be able to create such a buzz and then deny and remove any posts that supposedly occurred.

Obviously, I don’t advocate for cursing your customers but you have to admit that being a little edgy has it’s appeal. The Dollar Shave Club did this brilliantly without offending any potential or existing customers

I created a series of augmented reality videos that was a spoof on “Nacho Libre” about 5 years ago and some narrow minded pinhead in our company said they were offended and it was shut down by legal after 800 views in 4 hours… I’m tempted to resurrect it out of spite as I think it was pure marketing genius. As it becomes harder to tell what is real and what is staged anymore on the internet it will be interesting to see if this type of colossal disaster becomes normal for social media marketing and then have the convenience of plausible deniability and blame it on the hackers…

what are your thoughts?

Web 2.0 is Dead

You Don’t hear much about web 2.0 which was all the rage a few years ago. The concept of having a dynamic content management system for frequent updating to keep the content of a website dynamic and fresh is no longer sufficient. Technology moves fast and you can’t get any faster than real-time dynamic user generated content. This is why web 2.0 is dead and community 2.0 is alive and thriving. The introduction of Twitter and the mobile evolution has changed the way we consume data. We expect it to be dynamically served to us based on our preference and then we will engage when we find something interesting.

A recent Havard Business Review blog post by Bill Lee Marketing is Dead made me really start thinking about tis as I thought traditional marketing was dead 4 years ago. The more I thought about it the more I realized that not only is the way we market dead it has changed to how we engage and build relationships. So, what is next? Peer review and collaboration and I don’t think you have to look further than Amazon.com to find example of this as rudimentary as it is. Taking the web 2.0 platform and integrating a robust community experience is where digital marketing is headed. We as consumers don’t want to receive email blasts anymore and we don’t want to download your latest whitepaper. What we want is to search, find and discuss and you can’t do that with a static website.

If we look at consumers (inclusive of B2B as well) buying process, what we find is a desire for confirmation that the solution we have found via search is indeed the best fit for our need. That confirmation comes from peer review and user generated content. When I find a product that I believe has the specifications to suite my desire I want to talk to someone else who already bought the product and can verify if it was good, bad or ugly. What you will see companies doing very soon is integrating their social and community member discussion into their product pages on the website so there can be this dynamic user generated content to help confirm a prospects solution.

This accomplishes a few things. It opens up the transparency of your company product line to peer consumption and advocacy engagement with other potential prospects, ultimately shortening your sales cycle. Traditional marketing use to spend hours of effort finding and writing case studies for customers, then hoping others would read them. The case study is dead. Eliminate the middle man and put your prospects in direct contact with your brand advocates and let them sell the solution for you. While you’re at it put your customers in direct contact with your product engineers for dynamic product innovation.

This isn’t all without effort, but it will be a more efficient use of marketing dollars and with an infinite return on investment. A robust community, community management , content curation and strong advocacy program will be needed but you and your target audience will appreciate the direct access and honest engagement.