Certain businesses deal with products that perish or become useless if not used by a certain date/time. This is often seen as a problem – a problem of generating demand to drive sales, and a problem of inventory management. I have yet to see this viewed, by Tops, as an opportunity to delight customers, and cultivate gratitude / loyalty between the customer and the business.
What am I talking about? Allow me to illustrate using a recent experience.
Recently, I booked a double room at the local Hilton (St. Annes Manor) hotel via Hotels.com. I made a mistake – I booked it in my name, and for only one adult. So when time came for my wife and daughter to go to the hotel I rang the hotel. The voice on the other hand was professional and warm. The young lady didn’t just change the booking. Once she learnt that the room was for two adults, she took charge, and without me asking, found a room with two beds. I found myself pleased and grateful. Later that evening my wife sent me a photo of the room – it was a room with two double beds. Delight – my wife was delighted, my daughter was delighted, and I was delighted. Along with this kind of room came four towels – ideal for those of us who needed access to that room merely to shower – until the major renovation work is finished in our home.
Think about it. What did the hotel lose by giving us that bigger (deluxe) room? Nothing! It was late in the day, the room was free, and if it had not been used it would have created no value for anyone. Through intelligent generosity the lady on the front desk did create value: for us (the customers) and also for that hotel. How so for the hotel? I am writing about the hotel right now am I not? Also, it was the first time any member of the family stayed there – those that got to experience it (wife and daughter) love it and have been talking about it – recommending it to others: the room, the peaceful / beautiful location, the spa….. I also suspect that sooner or later my wife will check us in there for a quiet weekend away from the children.
It occurs to me that every business that deals with ‘perishable’ inventory has an opportunity to exercise intelligent generosity:
If you are an airline then you can offer seats (that your analytical models show will go unfilled) to some of your customers for free – as a thank you;
If you are a hotel you can do as our local Hilton did and/or offer some / all of the rooms likely to go unfilled to some of your customers for free – as a thank you or as taster;
If you are a supermarket, you have an opportunity to give food that is reaching its sell by date to certain customers (you choose which ones) or to local community organisation / charity that supports those in need…..
I know that some organisations do something this e.g. airlines which offer free upgrades to certain customers. I know that some hotels do this also. What I am talking about here is this and more than this – in some instances giving perishable product away to customers for free – free flight, free hotel stay, free train ticket, free concert ticket……
The question I am posing is this one: what opportunities does your business have to exercise intelligent generosity – the kind of generosity that causes customer surprise / delight / gratitude, holds the promise of increased revenue and/or brand reputation over the longer term, yet costs you little or nothing today?
Before you dismiss the question that I have posed, I ask you to consider that if ‘perishable’ inventory is not used by its sell-by date then it is waste. Is waste a better outcome / way of showing up and traveling in life than intelligent generosity? All I can say is that the field of intelligent generosity appears large and largely unoccupied.
I thank you for your listening, until the next time…