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Monday, February 24, 2014

5 companies that go the extra mile

It’s no secret that customers want to be loved. Their biggest priority is to receive a quality product at a great value, but what keeps customers coming back is service that makes them feel appreciated. To cover your bases, make sure you’ve got knowledgeable staff and support, and a website that’s easy to navigate. Companies like Target, Etsy, iTunes, and Instant Checkmate offer an intuitive, simple setup for things like product comparisons, shopping carts or subscription cancellations.

Once you’ve got your basics down, add some extra perks. Here are five companies that go the extra mile, in simple and sensational ways, to make their customers happy. 

1) Taco Bell

Taco Bell branding
Taco Bell literally went 400 extra miles to deliver its services
Here’s a case of a company going the extra couple thousand miles. When word spread that Bethel, Alaska was getting a Taco Bell, people were ecstatic. Considering the closest fast food restaurant was 400 miles away, this was news worth salivating over. But the rumor wasn’t true, and Bethel’s heartbreak called Taco Bell to action. They airlifted a taco truck into Bethel with 950 pounds of beef, 300 pounds of lettuce, 150 pounds of cheddar cheese, 500 pounds of sour cream, and 300 pounds of tomatoes. How many tacos does that make? Ten thousand tacos. The real question is how they evenly divvied out 10,000 tacos to a town of 6,200.
Mellow Mushroom Pizza differentiated itself via flexibility in its business model
Custom delivery shows customers a business cares

2) Mellow Mushroom Pizza

A soldier’s wife was also a devoted pizza lover. Knowing she’d appreciate some pizza while he was on duty in Afghanistan, he emailed the pizza chain to ask if they could send a special delivery to Jacksonville, FL for her birthday. Mellow Mushroom delivered the man’s wife a heart-shaped pizza and balloons. Now that’s true love. 

3) Tide 

Community service brought Tide brand to the forefront
When Hurricane Katrina hit, among the slew of problems it created was that New Orleans residents returning to destroyed homes also had no access to clean clothes. Tide outfitted a truck with 32 washers and dryers. It drove to selected communities affected by the hurricane, inviting residents to bring two loads of laundry per day while the truck was in town. Tide staff washed, dried, folded and wrapped the laundered clothing each day. While they can’t show up at every major disaster, Tide’s Loads of Hope has washed over 30,000 loads, and covered ground from the U.S. to Haiti.

4) Whole Foods

Whole Foods marketing
Whole Foods offers unique customer service as part of its brand
Just try walking into Whole Foods without getting a little giddy. Between the free samples, the aroma of fresh-baked treats, and the abundance of goodies you’ve never tried, Whole Foods knows how to appeal to your senses. 

They’re a supermarket chain that doesn’t feel anything like the stale, badly lit, confusing atmosphere of their competitors. But the real appeal of Whole Foods is their over-the-top service. Ask a guy at the fish counter where the beer is. He’ll not only tell you where to find it; he’ll escort you to the beer aisle, and he’ll tell you about his favorite brew along the way. (Speaking from personal experience here.) You’ll never get a response of “Aisle 9” and a finger point. Employees’ support and smiling faces will lessen the sting of your hefty grocery bill. 

5) Sweetgreen

Sweet Green marketing
Sweetening people's day sets Sweet Green apart
This chain of restaurants dishes out healthy, local foods in the DC area. To keep up their goal of brightening people’s days, they created “Random Acts of Sweetness.” On a rainy day, they’ll put a shower cap over bike seats and slip a gift card underneath. 

Or they’ll put a gift card next to a car’s parking violation to lessen the disappointment of someone coming back to a parking ticket. Playing off the idea of reciprocity, Sweetgreen gives a little to their customers, and gets a lot in return–like 300 percent growth each year.

Image licenses: Anthony92931, CC BY-SA 3.0; 2. Sam DeLong,  CC BY-SA 2.0; 3.Gary Seidman, CC BY-SA 2.0; 4.  M.O. Stevens, GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0; 5. Elvert Barnes, CC BY-SA 2.0