It all started, as it often does, with Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton of Valuable Content. If you are not familiar with their work, check it out. They run possibly the leading content marketing agency in the UK and are fabulously talented. They have been (and continue to be) a real inspiration.
Part of what they do is to hand out a Valuable Content award to companies who, in their words, “create helpful, authentic content, written with passion, presented with the user in mind.”
The June 2015 award was to Beer Bods, which is an online beer club and subscription service based in the UK. Seriously, go and look at their website – this is a brilliant concept.
Being an avid beer fan, I took a look at the Beer Bods website and was very interested to see that one of the beers they had featured was Everards Tiger.
Back To The Past
From 1981-84 I lived in Leicester while I studied Chemistry and Physics at what was then Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University.) In my first year, I lived in a remote hall of residence which had its own bar, run by the students. There was a very limited selection of beers so I used to drink Ansells Best. Not a great beer but at 43p a pint and 50 yards away from my room, I wasn’t complaining!
If you were feeling flush on a night out in town, you drank Ruddles County which, at 99p a pint, was a rare treat on a grant. Otherwise, the beer of choice was always Everards Old Original.
At that point in my life, I had been drinking beer for about 4 or 5 years but Old Original was the best beer I’d ever tasted, a view also shared by a number of my friends.
Fast forward a few years and I was returning home to Dorset from a business trip with a colleague to one of the Yorkshire steel towns. We had been talking about college days and, on a whim, I swung off the M1 at Leicester and went looking for an off-licence so I could buy some Old Original.
I gave up after visiting four or five shops, all who claimed never to have heard of it or the brewery. I just assumed that they had been bought by someone else or gone out of business.
Imagine my joy at discovering that they were still brewing!
The Customer Service Bit
Off I went to the Everards website. Hmm, no ‘Old Original’ but something called ‘Original’. Could be the same thing but had a green pump clip instead of the red I remembered. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I used their online general enquiries contact form.
“Was your Original originally called Old Original? I was at Leicester Poly between 1982 and 1984 and I’m sure I used to drink Everards Old Original. Is this new one brewed to the same recipe?”
Back came the reply from their Communications Co-ordinator
“Thanks for getting in touch, yes Original is exactly the same as Old Original, just a slight name change.”
“That’s great news! I have memories of it being the best beer I had ever had. I may just have to make my way over to your online shop to see if it has stood the test of time (and the introduction of my taste buds to many more beers!)”
“Send me your address I’ll get a bottle over to you (if you are in the UK still?) so you can ‘try before you buy’ again. in our opinion it’s still one of the best! And it’s still going strong in pubs across the Midlands.”
After sending the relevant information, I sat back and waited…
A few days later, the doorbell rings and I take delivery of not one, but two bottles of Everards Original AND a branded beer glass. In fact, they had sent me a Beer Lovers Gift Bag.
If I was happy at the thought of receiving one bottle of beer, how happy was I at getting two and a glass? ‘Dog with two tails’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Was the beer as good as I remember it? That’s a tricky one to answer as over 30 years has passed since my first one and who knows how many different beers I’ve had since then? (Here’s a clue – since the start of 2015 I’ve tried 60 different beers and ciders from 43 different breweries. I said I was an avid fan!) However, it is still a very good beer with a beautiful deep copper colour, a rich and fruity flavour and a long, long malty finish.
Will I be buying any more? Hell, yeah! The only questions are how much and how soon.
The Helping Sales Bit
They could have left it at ‘yes, the new one is the same as the old one and you can buy it online or in pubs in the Midlands’, particularly as I had already mentioned their online shop. I would have been happy with that. But they didn’t.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that it has cost them very much to send me a couple of bottles of beer and a glass.
I also recognise that not many companies in the B2B sector have low cost, standalone products that they can easily give away to allow you to ‘try before you buy’.
But that’s not the point. What is the point is that exemplary service from someone who doesn’t work in the sales department has turned me into a customer who is willing to pay a little bit extra and wait a little bit longer for his beer. I’m never going to be a massive customer but get enough people like me and you will boost your business.
The key word there is ‘exemplary’ – “serving as a desirable model; very good.” In an increasingly noisy and homogeneous world, good is not good enough any more. Good is expected, that’s all.
In our blog post R.I.P. USP?, we talked about creating unique value propositions to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Outstanding customer service can provide a valuable contribution to this mix.
So here’s your challenge – what can you do differently to provide superb customer service to your customers? Get creative, brainstorm some ideas, steal ideas from other industries. Be different!
If you like this post, please share the love and add a comment. We would love to hear from you, if only to confirm that we are not a lone voice crying in the wilderness!