1. Phone Greeting. Call any of the 1000+ 24-Hour Fitness stores around the world and they’ll answer the phone with, ‘It’s a great day to get in shape!’ What are the very first words out of your mouth when you answer the phone? Something boring like, ‘Thanks for calling’? Come on. You can do better than that! Have some fun. Say something that reinforces your brand and makes people smile.
2. Phone Goodbye. Take a hint from Disney whose employees (er, cast members) close every phone call with, ‘Have a magical day!’ Or learn a lesson from QuikTrip whose cashiers always say, ‘Hurry back!’ What are the very last words out of your mouth when you hang up the phone? ‘Have a nice day?’
3. Phone Number. Figure out what word or expression your phone number spells. Instead of digits, use the letters on your marketing materials, business cards and in conversations. Imagine telling a potential customer, ‘Sure, just give us at a call at 548-LOVE!’ Quite memorable, indeed. Go to http://www.phonespell.org/ to find out what your number spells!
4. Entrance. At the Mac store by my office, the familiar Apple logon sound chimes every time you walk in the front door. At The Yetti Bar in Leysin, Switzerland (best burgers in Europe) the door handle looks like a Yetti paw! How could you make your entrance memorable AND reinforce your brand?
5. Computer Kiosk. The portable check-in computers at Jet Blue post revolving greetings like ‘Howdy!’ ‘What’s up?’ and ‘Welcome!’ The Continental kiosks show a hilarious image of a passenger carrying too many bags when you’re prompted for your luggage. Is your computer kiosk that cool?
6. Ticket. When I went to see Transformers, I got a free comic book with my ticket. I told everyone I knew about it. What else could you give YOUR customers with their stubs?
7. Waiting in line. When your line is out the door, what if a manager walked around and introduced himself to every customer? He could take an advanced list of customer needs, offer water bottles and play with impatient children. Sure would make the time go by faster! How do you make your impatient customers feel more welcomed?
8. Waiting for a while. If it looks like your customers are going to be delayed for more than 20 minutes, hold a contest. Reward the winner with a free gift. Keep the contest materials in a box, always ready for an emergency situation. It would be fun, cool, remarkable and ease the pain of the wait. TED Airlines did this while we were in a holding pattern. We had to guess the weight of the aircraft, baggage and passengers included. The winner got a free first class upgrade for a future trip!
9. Waiting room. What if, in your waiting room, you had a TV playing non-stop movies and a popcorn machine to offer snacks while people wait? You could even have a schedule on the wall: ‘Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays: Comedies. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays: Dramas.’ You could even name it as if it were your own company TV station!
10. Announcements. Southwest Airlines was the first company to actually have fun with their standard PA anncouncements. Instead of saying, ‘In the event of a water landing,’ they say, ‘Should our flight turn into a cruise liner…’ People love it! And they actually listen, too. What’s more, SW has been written up in magazines for this memorable moment! How much fun are you having with your announcements?
11. Welcome in! Every time you walk into a Gates BBQ in Kansas City, the woman behind the counter actually YELLS, ‘HI MAY I HELP YOU!?’ It’s hysterical. And people from around the world come just to experience it. How memorable are your very first words when customers walk in?
12. Desk Greeting. 99% of the hotels in the world greet customers with, ‘Next in line!’ ‘Checking in?’ or ‘Last name please…’ What if you tried, ‘You finally made it!’ ‘I’ve been waiting for you?’ or ‘Welcome to paradise!’ People would talk. And talk about a great first impression, huh?
13. Email. When people ask me for my email address, I say, ‘Sure, it’s email@example.com.’ 90% of the time it gets a laugh, a comment or a question. Is your email address cool?
14. Subject Line. Amazingly, some people don’t even WRITE anything in their subject line. Big mistake. This is the perfect place to have some fun and engage your recipient. Consider asking a question like, ‘You wanna laugh your butt off?’
15. Hold Music. My friend Jeffrey has a looping recording of his various speeches as his ‘hold music.’ Not smooth jazz or Muzak. It catches the ear, reinforces his brand and delivers value. What could you say on your customers’ hold time?
16. Next Time. Let’s say you’re a locksmith. What if, every time a customer called about getting locked out of his car, you offered him a free blank key (with your logo on it) to make a new copy so it doesn’t happen again? How are you saving your customers from Next Time Trouble?
17. Voicemail. I met a pastor who changed his voicemail every morning. Each day, he shared a different bible verse. And congregants called all the time, just to hear it! Are people calling YOUR voicemail just to see what it says?
18. Website Counter. Seriously, nobody cares how many millions of visitors have been to your website. Instead, use your Noticeable Number in your counter. Think McDonald’s: 241 billion hamburgers served.
19. Uniform. I once saw a waiter at a bar whose shirt had the signatures of every one of his customers on it! They actually wrote directly on his shirt at the end of the meal! How cool is that? Do your staff’s uniforms encourage customer participation and memorability?
20. Forms. What if your customers signed their names on a graphic instead of a box? For example, if you sold tires, your ‘sign here’ line could be a road or a racetrack!
21. Banners. If you only see a few clients a day, what if you hung up a new banner, welcome sign or dry erase board for each person? Talk about a first impression! Or, what if all your employees wore nametags reading, ‘Welcome, Dave!’
22. Now that you’re here. I once stayed at a hotel in Hawaii. When I approached the desk, a stunning woman wearing a native Hawaiian dress and a flower in her hair offered me free glass of freshly squeezed pineapple juice! When your customers walk IN the door, what welcome gift could you offer that’s consistent with your brand?
23. Wait, before you go! A few years ago I ate lunch at a grill in Chicago. By the door they had a tub of cold bottles of ice water (with their logo on the labels) along with a homemade oatmeal cookie for my walk back across town. Unbelievable! When your customers walk OUT the door, what ‘until next time’ gift could you offer that’s consistent with your brand?
24. Signing bonuses. Once the contract is signed, what congratulatory gift could you offer that’s consistent with your service? My realtor gave me a $100 gift certificate to Pottery Barn after I closed on my condo. I told EVERYBODY about it! OTHER EXAMPLES: car salesmen could offer car wash coupons, clothing stores could offer free lint brushes, kennels could offer free milk bones and shoe salesmen could offer free lotion. The possibilities are endless!
25. Receipts. At my favorite restarurant, Canyon Café, every receipt comes with freshly made white chocolate tamales. They’re incredible! And there’s actually an employee whose sole job responsibility is to make those for customers, all day. Is your receipt that delicious?
26. PR Picture. When the media or a client requests a headshot or PR picture, is it the same Glamour-Shot-suit-and-tie-stuffy-corporate-right-hand-on-your-chin post from 1994 that looks EXACTLY like everyone else’s? Come on. Do something cool. Have some fun. I’ve used my, it’s raining nametags picture, along with my more recent, superhero nametag image. They not only get people talking, but they stand out on a page, brochure or conference guide.
27. Menu. Sydney Street Café, the Zagat-rated #1 best restaurant in St. Louis, doesn’t have menus. They have chalkboards. Each table posts a list of items on the menu, and every night, the servers take ten minutes to explain all the items. Ten minutes! Talk about an experience! How cool is YOUR ordering process?
28. To-Go Package. Tiffany’s doesn’t sell jewelry; they sell really, really expensive blue boxes. What if your To-Go Package was that recognizable?
29. Signage. At Jimmy John’s, signs on the wall read, ‘Your mom wants you to eat at Jimmy Johns!’ ‘Smells are free!’ and ‘Subs so fast, you’ll freak!’ They also print those on t-shits, mugs and boxer shorts. Is your signage that fun?
30. Accessories. At the bar by my office, the coasters have funny lines printed on them like, ‘My best friend is a napkin!’ and ‘Your beer is cold!’ How could you enhance the brand of your accessories?
31. Starters. While most restaurants serve dinner rolls, The Chocolate Bar serves freshly made cookies. Marisol serves pumpkin seeds. Kind of a nice change of pace, huh?
32. Order Process. At Dayton’s Pizza King, each table has a red phone. When you’re ready to order, you call the chef and tell him what you want. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. How could you make your ordering process unique?
33. Transaction Complete. When you finish telling the drive-through attendant what you want, he usually says something like, ‘Thanks for choosing Hardees.’ What if he said, ‘You’ve chosen wisely!’ or ‘The best burger in fast food coming right up!’ It’s the perfect way to inject personality and remarkability into a boring encounter. How do YOU conclude your transactions?
34. Can I help you? Go to Planet Honda in Union, NJ. Any customer who says, ‘I’m just looking,’ gets a little yellow smiley sticker that reads, ‘Just Looking!’ Salespeople are trained NOT to approach them. And usually, customers who are ready to buy will rip the stickers off and approach a salesperson themselves. Are you giving your customers permission to approach you first?
35. Condiments. At The Schlafly Tap Room in St. Louis, you can order homemade, cumin-flavored ketchup. It’s the most delicious ketchup in the world. It’s the reason I go back there. What side item, condiment or extra could you make unique?
36. Nametags. At Cleveland’s Rock n’ Roll Hall of fame, each nametag includes the employee’s favorite artist or band. Great for striking up conversations and discover the CPI between employees and guests. Are your nametags ONLY sharing your name?
37. Here it comes! At the Ft. Lauderdale Airport baggage claim, island music plays every time the bags begin to dispense! It’s amazing to see customers’ body language and facial expressions alter, especially if they’re having a long travel day. How could you reassure your customers!
38. Price tags. I once went to a thrift store in Portland whose price tags had a fictitious back-story about each piece of clothing. It was hysterical! And many people often left the price tags on, just to tell their friends about it. Are your price tags that cool?