Sprinkles are Dancing Sugar Plums
It started way back in the 1600’s! Plums were gently and slowly rolled in sugar using a methodical process called “panning.” Because it took days to create, sugar plums were considered luxury items. They even found their way into our vernacular as a term of great value, as in, “landing a plum job.” And, the famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” spoke of the joy of children nested in their beds while “visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.” It is a fitting metaphor for the features of sprinkles added to your customer’s service. Especially during this holiday season!
Sugar Plum Service is Hand Made
My colleague Carrie Koens has a loving husband who wanted to get her a special gift for her birthday or maybe Christmas. He ordered her special gift from eFurb.com, a company that sells factory-refurbished items at a discount. But, the gift arrived missing a few of the accessories that routinely would come with the item when new. He contacted eFurb. Olivia, a true holiday “elf,” after hearing the story of the missing parts, had Carrie’s husband return the shipped item. She then ordered the same item (with accessories) NEW from Amazon at their expense and had it overnighted to the Koens.
But here is the best part! Elf Olivia heard Carrie’s husband mention birthday in their conversation and shipped 10 stems of Gerber daisies with a note that read, “Hope you have a great birthday, sorry for the delay! Sincerely, Olivia @ eFurb.” Carrie still does not know what her special surprise will be. But, the hand made sugar plum service she has already gotten from eFurb has made her wait even sweeter!
Sugar Plum Service is as Spirited as a Dance
Talk to 100 grandparents about how customer service has changed and you will get a common theme--the spirit of service has been removed. Probe a bit further and you learn that “spirit” is the soul of other-centered attention laced with generosity, true compassion, and an unmistakable desire to add value, not just fulfill an obligation. It is service powered by the energy of kindness. It is the power of the extra straw.
My business partner and I were conducting a focus group with family members who had a parent in an assisted living community of our client. We were searching for a deep understanding of the key factors that drove customer advocacy. The topic of conversation was a particular nurse in the unit that served dementia residents. “She gives my mother an extra straw.” Everyone in the room registered an all-knowing recognition of exactly the meaning of the compliment. Nothing more needed to be said. Service had been delivered with spirit.
Sugar plums were objects of luxury. In a similar way, service with sprinkles ramps up the worth of the experience. Like the power of the financially worthless “free prize” inside a Cracker Jack’s box, sprinkles can transform the plain “plum of service” into a priceless jewel of joy. Stop delivering service and start dancing service; cease pursuing mechanized, plastic experiences and begin creating personalized, authentic ones. This season make visions of sugar plums dance in your customers’ heads.
Photo credit: Daniel Go