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Day 12: Consider Logistics and Create Superfans

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Today's Prompt:

Use the discussion above to think about the logistics of your product – how your product or service will be delivered or presented to your customers. Create a simple, hand-drawn roadmap for the logistics of getting your product from B (you, the business) to C (the customer).

Think of occasions when you’ve experienced great customer service and what made you so happy. Make notes of this, and think about whether you can emulate something similar for your customers.

Ultimately, you will demonstrate that you’re providing value to your customer by differentiating yourself from the rest of the competition with good service.

The Superfan

Recently, my friend Dana told me (Casey) that, when she and her husband Zak were starting Henry + Mac, their photography business, her mentor told her not to focus on obtaining a mass quantity of customers. The mentor suggested that they should instead find superfans[1]. If they provided just a few initial customers with quality service alongside their already quality product, customers would become their champions.

These superfans would have such a wonderful customer experience that they would rave about it to their friends and family, and/or on social media, thus spreading the word about what Henry + Mac had to offer. This would provide them with free marketing and repeat customers. Dana and Zak did successfully create their own superfans (my husband and I became two of them after enlisting Dana and Zak as our wedding photographers). As a result, their business has grown immensely in a short time. Their initial superfans have spread their business through word of mouth.

This idea really stuck with me. I thought about the few times that I had negative service with a mediocre, or even good quality, product but wouldn’t return as a customer because of the service. I also told friends or family about the experience so they wouldn’t receive the same poor service.

I thought about the times I had an exceptional, personalized experience. I raved about it to friends or family and on social media.

I certainly can think of a few brands, restaurants, and websites that I am a superfan of as a result of my experience.

In today’s task, we’ll think about the basic logistics behind delivering your product to your customer so that you can create your own superfan.

Logistics – examples

We’d all like to think that being a producer of a product is as simple as creating the product that the customer then receives. But there are a lot of moving parts between B (business) and C (customer). (If you have a B to B business, this is still the case.)

Let’s use two different examples – the coffee mug I’m drinking from and the aeropress I used to make the coffee.

I purchased the coffee mug sitting next to me at an art studio in Cornwall, England. My husband and I were at a local coffee shop while on holiday. We loved the mugs we were drinking out of so much that we asked the shop owner where he had purchased them. He pointed us right down the street to the ceramic studio where they were made. We wandered over, chatted with the ceramic artist who made them, and purchased some for ourselves.

Her logistics are relatively simple. She is creating small, tangible products that she can store in her own studio for stock. She sells these products to local businesses (restaurants, bed and breakfasts, coffee shops) in the area that will use them to get the word out to tourists and residents like me, who will then come buy them. Additionally, she sells on her own website, which is promoted by local art galleries in the area. If someone orders online, she boxes up the ceramics herself, including shipping in the price of the product, and ships them to the customer. She is in control of nearly her entire logistical process.

The aeropress is very different. The creator of the aeropress wanted to create a coffee maker that was small, inexpensive, and universally accessible – so, largescale. The aeropress is created in a factory in the U.S., presumably by a large team of human workers and machines. It is boxed up mechanically into packaging, stored in a large facility, and shipped around the world. It is sold on the official aeropress website but is also sold through third-party retailers (coffee shops, kitchen stores, other websites) internationally.

Clearly, there is a logistical world working behind the aeropress, transporting them from the factory in the U.S. to my kitchen. (Truthfully, we own four of them…I’m a superfan of aeropress, and they’re so big they don’t even need superfans anymore!)

Logistics – questions to ask yourself about your business

Now that we’ve thought about how other businesses are getting their products from B to C, we can ask ourselves several questions to start mapping out the logistics of our own business.

Production

Are you creating a product where you’ll hold a certain amount of stock? When someone purchases your product, will they receive it right away because you’re holding it in stock? Or are you creating your product on demand?

This will largely depend on the space that you’ll be working in, if you’re using a studio to create it, and how big your product is, if it is tangible (ceramic coffee mug vs. massive dining room table…you’re probably not storing many of those, at least at first).

Is your product perishable (food, drinks, flowers, plants)? Then you likely don’t want to store a large stock, at least initially while you investigate demand, so that you don’t take a huge financial risk.

If you’re creating a product that’s being dispatched on demand, you’ll need to work out lead times for your customers. For example, if you’re creating hand-made jewelry and selling it online on demand, how long will it take you to make each item you’re offering? You can add this lead time in the description of the product on your website. Are you storing a stock of the materials, or are you going to purchase materials each time you get an order? Make sure to factor that into the lead time.

If you’re offering a digitally made on-demand product (e.g., making a documentary, doing a photoshoot), begin to think about how long a project like that will take you so that your customers will know what to expect with delivery times.

Platform

Will you be selling in a storefront/studio, in a retail store, on your own website, on a third-party website (Amazon, Etsy, etc.), or a combination of all these?

If you’re producing your product on demand, it’s probably best to sell on a site like www.etsy.com (an online marketplace for craftsman) or your own website so that you can interact directly with customers and prepare them for lead times. We’ll discuss how to set up an online store later in the 30 Days.

Customer interaction

Customer interaction may be the most important part of your process, because if your customers are happy not only with the final product but with your service, they’re likely to recommend you to other people and to keep coming back for more.

If you’re creating a custom or on-demand item, are you going to email directly with the customer about their requests for the product, or will you create an online form?

If you are sending out your product from a stock you are holding, you’ll at least need a confirmation of delivery email.

If you’re selling your product in person in a studio, it may be nice to think of a personal touch you can add, especially if it’s an expensive, high-end product. For example, it may be nice to include a small card about your business with a thank you to the customer.

Delivery

For digital products (e-books, photographs, videos), the delivery process is relatively simple. Have a think about whether you will be emailing the product directly (not recommended) or using some third-party host to transfer the files.

If you’re creating a tangible product and shipping it, you’ll have to think about several things: which service you will use (or how you will hand-deliver the product if you aren’t using a third party…which is unsustainable in most cases), whether you will include shipping costs in your pricing, and how you will package the product.

Customer experience

This is the most important part, in my opinion. This is where you create your superfans. Adding small touches, being extra-communicative, and including an artistic flare can go a long way with making the customer remember you.

For example, my husband bought me a knitting kit for Christmas last year from Wool and the Gang, and it included a pretty card and sticker with a hashtag on it to encourage me to share my knitting project on social media and a link to video tutorials on how to knit. This made me feel like I wasn’t just knitting a pair of gloves – I was learning a new skill and interacting with other people on social media who were having fun with this product.

[1] Rhoden, Matthew. Create Brand Superfans. https://hbr.org/2011/05/create-brand-superfans 27 Jan 2017.

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