Why you should buy a Keurig

Edit: Imagine my horror today when I discovered one of the main reasons we hated the Vue was *still a problem* with the product Keurig sent to replace. The problem**: they added DRM to their 2.0 coffee machines! Not to fear, you can get around the problem http://www.keurighack.com/ Plus coffee + starwars, let’s just say the video is a fun watch regardless. And here is some CNN Money coverage of the topic.

**Not being in the market I hadn’t researched the product offered to me by Keurig. I still can’t fault their stellar customer service.

AKA how Keurig just made me a customer for life.

Put simply: they know how to turn frustration into an amazing customer experience.

In more detail;

We had purchased a Keurig about 6 months ago. My wife saw a “great deal” on Groupon for a fancy new “Vue”. We had loved our original Keurig machine. We discovered it via a friend. He loved his and when we visited we enjoyed it for the whole weekend. We *had* to get one. So we did. The K-cups were reasonably priced and there was a whole ecosystem around them. Third party brands, different types of coffee. You name it.

The “Vue” was none of that. Oh, yeah, it had the same benefits as far as automation is concerned, and some fancy new features. However within a few minutes of opening the box we discovered to our horror, the cups were different. Wait. What? Different? Why would they do this*. We had been conditioned by Keurig to think the K-cups were Keurig. We never expected a different cup. An incompatible cup. Cups that are hard to come by, are quite a lot more expensive, and in our case Costco never seemed to sell.

*to differentiate, add value and innovate and to their credit try be more ‘green’. Unfortunately in this case it seems to have back fired. The Vue doesn’t appear to have been well received, or successful and never really got great reviews.

This mornings caffeine related needs were the straw that broke the camels back. I decided to tweet my frustration, as I sipped a cup of English breakfast tea. Don’t be fooled, I was enjoying my tea. I love my tea. I love my coffee too.

The tweets;

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They replied. Then DM’d. Seven hours later I had a phone call. With a very kind offer. 60% of a “Keurig 2.0” system <reels of list of features>. When pressed he offered to throw in two free boxes of coffee. I expressed my appreciation but that frankly at $70 added to the $70+ I spent on the “Vue” that I wasn’t really a happy customer still. It was ‘ok’ but I didn’t want to spend any more money on a company and products I didn’t feel great about, at that time. I suggested that I would continue sharing my experiences and that I’d be more than happy to return the old unit to Keurig in exchange for a replacement, a “2.0” if you will. I’m not out to scam any one. I just want an awesome automated coffee maker. And to do business with great companies.

After asking for the serial number the nice chap on the phone asked if I minded being put on hold. Several minutes later he returned, and, voila. Keurig agreed that for the return of the ‘brew head’ from our “Vue” they would send me a “2.0” which is now on it’s way to us and should be here in 5-7 business days.

And that leads us to this post.

The reason why this matters is, put simply, as follows; In today’s customer centric economy there are simply too many options for you to afford losing any customers. Let alone treating customers in a way that will result in them bashing them to their friends, and quite frankly their thousands of twitter followers, LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends. You have to aim for AMAZING. “Good” is just that, it’s OK, it’s good, it’s as our friends in the valley so like to say “table stakes”. It doesn’t retain you, it certainly doesn’t make you loyal and you as a customer are primed to jump ship at a moments notice… Good isn’t good enough, not any more.

If you want to be REMARKable, to be REMARKED upon in a positive manner in this highly connected over saturated world where opinions matter and spread like wild fire then you have to aim to create AMAZING customer experiences.

Kudos to Keurig. They just won a customer for life. And I’m happy to share this experience with you.

What was your best recent customer service experience? Or worst? What did it leave you feeling? What was the outcome? What was the company involved?

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When is an infographic not an infographic?

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it did. The concept of the infographic was hijacked to mean “any colourful (colorful) representation of data”.

And I know you could ‘argue’ that it’s ‘information’ in a ‘graphical form’. It’s an argument that is as developed as the thinking behind what the “infographic” has become. And if you use it I’m going to assume that you are in the group of marketers who are making the sort of “infographics” I’m critiquing. It’s OK to create cool, beautiful graphics with stats in them, just please I implore you not to think of them as or call them an infographic.

An infographic conveys a lot of complex data in a visual story that captures your attention at a high-level then draws you in. Subsequently delivering further layers of information in a consumable manner that would otherwise make your eyes glaze over. The result? You come away from it with some hitherto unknown insight into said topic.

An Infographic (click for readable source):

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Not an infographic, but that’s OK (link) just don’t call it an infographic Smile

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That’s right, just putting numbers or a chart/bar graph on a poster doesn’t magically bestow it infographic status.

Little known fact: some of the best Infographics are about coffee.

And this is one (below) of my favorites by The Oatmeal. Note how it’s not just a bunch of stats prettied up and how it mixes in all sorts of interesting information visually that helps you remember… such as the coffee belt bit.

Now, what do you think? And what is your favorite infographic?

Surviving the death of traditional marketing

(cheesy overload of information © Matthew Woodget www.fluidpixel.com)

You probably won’t read this whole blog post. It’s true, CMO.COM recently had a great post on this; distraction. I’ve come to terms with it 🙂 This post will cover a lot of [very important] ground, I promise, so it will be worth it. Without further ado; welcome to the year of Blade Runner (2014). Building sized billboards and all.

Maybe it was MTV that messed us up. Maybe it was something else. All I know is that despite my four year olds apparently distracted behavior (I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that he’s simply not listening to me) he’s actually very focused on what he does. When I try show him a trailer for a movie three out of four times he’s left confused and dumfounded (I’ve probably done it a maximum of four times). Go watch a trailer right now, come back when you are done. It leaves my son feeling uncomfortable, confused, he genuinely doesn’t like the experience. Brash, speeding images, a rapidly sped up narrative. As a father of young children I’m faced with the fact I’m part of a society in which this is par for of the course. Whatever caused it, we need to accept that distraction is paramount. We are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages a day. Research by Huge says 5,000 daily, in urban environments, double what it was three decades ago (as above). That’s just marketing messages. You think you consume all of that? You brain goes into auto pilot, it’s why you often can’t remember you work commute. Our brain is unimaginably complicated and deals with an even more impressive array of ridiculously tiny things each day. It’s good at filtering out the crap and getting us to where we are going. Thankfully it does this with the marketing noise too.

That’s my point. It’s NOISE. I turned up the volume on that on purpose 😉 We live in an attention economy, well covered by Jeremy Epstein. We have limited time, focus, bandwidth, hours in the day. When it comes to communicating with our customer are we going to keep fighting this fact? Or are we going to start with a strategy that engages? Whether or not you realize it you have a complex set of filters to deal with all of this noise. The thing is your filters break. What’s that? I hear you cry? My filters break? That brings us full circle to why we need to respect distraction and leads us to how we can deal with it. Jeremy has been banging on about this since at least 2007. CMO.COM blogged about it this summer. At some point this thing is going to reach critical mass, and blow up.

Good content needs a good story. It doesn’t have to be 500,000 words long. It doesn’t have to be an NPR series on the creation of a tee shirt in the current global economy (a great story by the way). It can be as simple as effectively conveying a feeling and a sense as can be done in a single photograph that invokes thoughts and ideas that you end up filling in the blanks to complete the tale. It does have to have a character(s), tension, depth, meaning, it must reveal something and needs to have a narrative. Different mechanisms can be employed to convey this. Storytelling is a cornerstone in our ability to get ideas to stick. It is the informational genetic code that enables an idea to survive and be passed on from one generation to the next. It’s why religion, Santa, the boogeyman, organ theft, and love stories all virally spread between and stick with us.

Push marketing is dead. Advertising is dead, banner ads on websites, radio ads, billboards, popups that appear before you can load a site, popups that appear as you start reading a site (and by pop up I mean the ones that are ‘in’ the webpage, not the 1999 version of a separate window adding itself to your desktop clutter. Yes, unfortunately those still exist). They are all dead. It’s only a matter of time before the last tombstone in the last graveyard of advertising is set in the ground. Blade Runner I love you but our future will not include those bill boards. There will not need to be. And I disagree with the assertion that it’s not dead, it’s evolving or simply changing. The point here is that push marketing is dead. And that to all intents and purposes the future doesn’t include advertising as we see it today. Marketing is often mischaracterized as being only about promotion, advertising et al. It’s so much more than that, it’s about a deep understanding of the people who might want your product, your product/service, how those things intersect and how you communicate about that.

One day there will be no advertising. Not as we know it today. There will be content. Content that you want to consume. That is shared because it has value in and of itself. Content that appears in relevant context to what you are doing and connects you to new things, services, experiences that you probably want. It will be more effective. Less annoying. With the evolution of big data and the internet of things it becomes broadly real sooner than you think. If you are a fan of Stephen Hawking you might enjoy watching Grand Design – The Meaning of Life. Where he covers that all of our choices may well all end up boiling down to a complex predetermination any way. If anyone every figures out a Theory of Everything they can monetize it by selling it as a marketing service. That’s a bad physics joke and I’m aware of how beautifully cynical it sounds, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it covered somewhere by Douglas Adam, Terry Pratchett or Ian M. Banks.

It all boils down to is Propaganda vs. Relevance. The crafting of propaganda has existed for as long as humanity itself. I’m told that after practicing law it’s the third oldest profession. Every conflict, war, work related butting of heads uses it as a tool. Its essence is that of one human being trying to convince another so it doesn’t comes across as such. If you are truly relevant and able to convince your customer to do something without them realizing it then you attain that mythic status immortalized by the quote "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist". As evil as that may sound really it’s all about a respect for your customer, reaching them in a relevant way to connects them with something which they will be care about. Not wasting their time. Not adding to the noise.

Putting this into practice takes progressive engagement (Gartner, Hank Barnes). It’s about leading a horse to water. Stepping stones. Phases. Conversations. Moving forwards through and to something. I love presenting and I feel like I can always do better, so when I’m given the opportunity for "presentation skills training" I lap it up. Sometimes it’s screwed me up, made me over think myself. But it’s all good. One time I was preparing for a presentation, that I never actually gave because I ended up getting horribly sick and missing the whole event. The guy who did the training laid on a really salient point that interestingly maps to this topic. He said "What do you really think you can get across in an hour?" Great question. Right? Think about that for a second. You can’t educate, much. You can’t deliver all the details of your subject. It might take you ten times that amount of time to prepare the presentation. Aside: arguably if there are 100 people in that room then you owe it to their time investment to invest a hell of a lot of time in the prep, that’s another blog post entirely. The point is you can’t get it all across at once so don’t try.

The same goes for "marketing" or "advertising". Give your audience enough to want more, to come back, to take the next step, the "next action" where they consume your content and embark on a journey of relevance with you. The future of marketing is about storytelling via content that creates progressive engagement, not one of billboards.

If there is one thing Ridley Scott got right with Blade Runner it’s that in 2014 we’d still have billboards. What do you think? What sort of science fiction of marketing and advertising can you dream up? Leave it in the comments…