Learn the Secrets of an Extraordinary Customer Experience from a Rare Flower, the Blue Tulip

by Diane Berenbaum

Blue flowers are rare, but a blue tulip is rarer still. So, when I heard that a new store, called Blue Tulip, opened in our town, I wasn't sure what to expect.
 

Like its namesake the Blue Parrot Tulip (a magnificent ten-inch wide tulip with frilled blue petals brushed with bronze and purple), the store elicits oohs and aahs from even the most unsuspecting shoppers. I first ventured into the store when my husband realized he needed a 50th birthday present for one of his college roommates. Well aware that his tolerance for shopping was usually limited to ten minutes, I agreed to accompany him to be sure he bought an appropriate gift for this momentous occasion.
 

To my surprise, my husband sauntered happily around this particular store admiring the assortment and spotting several items of interest. Blue Tulip had figured out how to accomplish what I thought was nearly impossible: it managed to put a smile on my husband's face while he was doing one of his least favorite things.
 

What Makes Blue Tulip Stand Out?

They are masters at personalized customer service. Their goal is to create a superlative customer experience every time - and they certainly do. Here are some other secrets to their extraordinary customer service success:

  • Rare, Personalized Service Approach: After completing a customer transaction and placing the items in delightful blue boxes and blue bags, store associates walk all the way around the counter to face you and hand you the package, as if it were indeed a special gift. They even call you by name as they thank you for visiting the store. Now, that's rare!
     
  • Shopping Assistance for Businesses: Personal shopping assistance is available for local businesses. With access to some of the greatest gifts of the world, they can help you find the right one for every occasion.
     
  • An Adventure in Every Visit: There is always something new and wonderful in the store and you never know what to expect. We ended up getting a mug that says “Genius” on it for my husband's friend.
     
  • Personalized Gifts for Every Occasion: Many items can be customized for anyone or any event. You name it; they do it, in a short timeframe, at a very reasonable cost.
     
  • Comfortable, Welcoming Atmosphere: Although there are five locations, it feels like a hometown store. Associates are warm, friendly, and look as though they could be your neighbors.
     
  • Events to Help You Find That Perfect Gift: They hold special events to get everyone involved in the shopping experience. While I was shopping with my husband, they handed us a flyer invitation for a men's only night where men have the store to themselves and get all of the shopping assistance they need. There will be some very happy women and children after that event.

There is no limit to what you can do to attract attention and create an extraordinary customer experience. 
 

How Do Others Stand Out from the Crowd?

Blue Tulip isn't the only company out there doing things differently to create an extraordinary customer experience. No matter what industry you work in, there are ways that you can put a personal touch on the service you provide that will help you stand out. Here are just a few other companies who have figured out how to get noticed.

  • Nugget Markets' Employees Make Your Day
    This California-based grocery chain emphasizes fun on the job. They encourage clerks to hand out free roses to shoppers who are celebrating a birthday or experiencing a bad day.

    This special touch pays off. They were recently acknowledged as one of Fortune Magazine's, “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
     
  • Texas Children's Hospital Encourages Playtime
    Discovering ways to help sick children and their families feel better is a core value of this Houston-based hospital. They know that sick children need time to play to get their minds off of their illness, so they built a playground with sandboxes that are accessible to wheelchairs and gurneys. The hospital also created their own radio station, Radio Lollipop, where kids can play their favorite CDs, tell stories and win prizes. 

    Patients come from all 50 states and 40 countries to get treatment at this customer-focused hospital.
     
  • Stew's Lets Customers do the Picking
    Stew Leonard's realized that people like to have their pick of the crop. So, they let customers pick their own strawberries as opposed to buying them in little plastic cages. They also created a country farm atmosphere complete with costumed characters and free samples. To add to the excitement, whenever a customer spends $100 or more, the register “moos” and the customer is rewarded with a free ice cream or cup of coffee.

    Stew Leonard's has certainly seen the benefits of these small touches, as they have grown to become the World's Largest Dairy Store with more than 300,000 shoppers visiting each week.


How Can You Stand Out From the Crowd?

Develop your own Blue Tulip. The benefits of creating something truly noticeable and different are clear. Have some fun and brainstorm ways you can stand out by offering an unforgettable customer experience. Soon, your customers will be oohing and aahing about your service. As the word spreads, stand back and watch your business bloom and your revenues grow.
 
Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .
 
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