I bought a bar of soap for my bathroom. I opened up the box and put it on my sink. And like the diligent young woman I am, every time I used the bathroom, I washed my hands with the soap once I was done.
And every time I put the soap back on the side of the sink, it would squirm its way to the edge and eventually slide down into the sink bowl.
To remedy the problem, I took a saucer from the kitchen and put the soap in there. Now the soap didn't slide down into the sink but water kept collecting in the saucer making the soap turn mushy and greatly diminishing the life span of my bar of soap.
I knew I needed a soap dish. I'd known it since I bought the soap, I just hadn't had the motivation to search for a soap dish I liked.
Eventually, as part of my commitment to buying from small business owners, I headed to Etsy and found a beautiful green ceramic soap dish made by Megan Louise Ceramics, who hand crafts all her pieces in her small home studio in Southampton, UK.
My soap dish arrived around 4 or 5 working days later. And let me tell you, everything about receiving the package was a delight.
The parcel was wrapped in plain brown paper. On it, a heart-shaped stamp marked 'fragile'. I'd never seen a 'fragile' stamp like that before and I thought it was a nice touch.
When I opened the package, I found a box tied up in a bow with simple purple string. It wasn't necessary, but it made me smile. Along the sides of the box she'd used some colourful tape, complementing the string. And inside, on the delivery note were a few lines of handwriting, thanking me for the order and for saying hello on Instagram (because after finding her on Etsy, I connected with her there to say I was looking forward to receiving the dish.)
I then went ahead and left her a rave review on her Etsy page and I'm now thoroughly enjoying the joys of having non-mushy, non-slippy soap.
Megan's attention to detail wasn't necessary in practical terms for the delivery of my product. It didn't need to have a pretty 'fragile' stamp. It didn't need to be wrapped up in purple string or colourful tape. And she needn't have taken the time to write a little note.
Would I have still loved my dish? Yes. Would I have still given her a nice review for her product? Yes.
But would I have written a gushing review like the one I gave her? Unlikely. And would I be writing a whole blog post based on what I learned from interacting with her business? Of course not.
As we go about building our businesses, we have an opportunity to do so much more than create a product or service and deliver it. We have an opportunity to delight our customers in ways they wouldn't expect.
It might take a little extra time and effort, but what's clear from this example is that it's worth that time and effort. When you're willing to go above and beyond, your customers will do your marketing for you.
All too often, businesses are too busy focusing on the bottom line to remember that they're dealing with people. And no matter how digital our world gets, what we all want (perhaps now more than ever) is to be seen, heard, valued and understood. We want to feel special. And if we can make our clients and customers feel special, they're almost certainly going to do business with us again and recommend us to their friends.
It's the difference between playing the long term and the short term game. The short term game might be attractive right now, but it's not a strategy that allows business to thrive over the long term.
So today, maybe we could all take a little time and think about how we can bring a little more beauty into our businesses and how we can show our clients and customers just how special they really are.
Love and courage,