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Episode #160: Building a Better Pancake Batter

Grad Conn

September 29, 2021  •  17 min read

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Three customer experiences for the price of one. We start with a brilliantly-designed pancake batter container, move on to a customer support story featuring missing bricks, and end with a not-so-great headphone repair. 

It’s pancakes, pieces, and pods as we explore how small interactions can make a big difference.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Welcome, welcome, welcome, and welcome to the Unified CXM Experience. I’m your host, Grad Conn, CXO, Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr. We don’t talk too much about that word unified in front of CXM, its Unified CXM, it’s kind of exciting, and I’m going to spend a bit more time on in the next few weeks. But unified CXM, it’s a whole new category of enterprise software that Sprinklr is innovating on, but many others are following, following quickly. And it’s based on this really simple idea that if you’re going to deliver a great customer experience, you need to know everything you’ve done with the customer, you need to know the whole of the customer, you need to know the transactional data that they’ve generated with you. You need to know the behavioral data they’ve generated with you that comes from systems like Adobe, Google. And you need to know the experience data they have around you. That comes from Sprinklr across all the different social and network platforms. And so if you get that view, you can operate in a way that the customer feels like you really know them.

I’ve used this analogy before, but I often feel like we operate in a Fifty First Dates model in marketing. If you’ve ever seen the movie Fifty First Dates, it’s a wonderful movie. very underrated, I’d say. It’s got Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in it and Adam Sandler is romancing Drew Barrymore and Drew Barrymore has a brain injury. And the result of that is each morning when she wakes up, she remembers nothing. So every day is a new day for her. And so for Adam Sandler every day he learns more about her as he dates her. But for Drew Barrymore each date is like a first date – Fifty First Dates. I feel like we do that in marketing. Every time I go into a store, interact with a retailer… I was just buying some graphic novels on Amazon. I love Amazon. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Amazon’s amazing. So I’m not trying to criticize Amazon. But Amazon should know what graphic novels I want to read. At this point, I mean, they should know. They do know the color of my underwear. Like, they know the color of my underwear. Amazon knows everything about me. There’s no reason why I have to be specific on my searches. But I still have to be really specific; I still have to get recommendations from others. Something’s not quite right; there’s still too much amnesia in marketing. If you get a unified CXM system in place you get rid of the amnesia, it’s a non-amnesic marketing system. There’s something there actually, I might play with that a bit. Randy, make a note of that. No more amnesia. Something there. Maybe there’s some word like marketing plus amnesia. Markinesia. Okay, okay. I’ve seen the wave off on that one, no problem. But we’ll figure something out. Amnesiating? No, that’s not it either. Alright, so I have two stories I want to talk about today. And today I want to talk about two great examples of customer experience. One is more of a packaging innovation, which is so glaringly and blindingly obvious. I feel like the people who came up with it and sent it out into the world must have been smacking their heads the entire time wondering why in gosh name did we not think of this a million years ago. So I can take you through that. That’s a great example of, I think, great customer experience, but expressed through packaging, and in a pretty, just so incredibly clever, it’s just this wonderful. So I’m going to do that one first. And then the second one is my favorite brand – Lego. Everyone knows I’m a Lego fanatic. And it’s just a great story. And it circulated through the networks about a week or so ago. And you may have read the story or seen it if you’re following all this kind of stuff on Twitter, or whatever. But I am going to go through it just briefly, because I think it’s a fantastic story and just reinforces everything I love about Lego. And you know, it’s a motion available to all of us. We may not make things with plastic bricks, but we all do things with customers. And so just customer interaction from a company that sells stuff. And we could all be doing this but when Lego does it, we all go “Of course, Lego”, but that’s just because we’ve come to expect that from them. We should be expecting it from all of us.

So let me do my story first of what I think is packaging brilliance perhaps. You’re probably familiar with the product Bisquick. So Bisquick, if you’re not aware of Bisquick, it’s a product from Betty Crocker. And it is a pancake mix. They come in different flavors and stuff but the kind of classic Bisquick is a buttermilk pancake mix. And you can use it to make other things as well. Bisquick is a pretty magical thing. And you can use it to make waffles and all sorts of other things. But classically, people use Bisquick to make pancakes and you just mix it with water and bam, pancakes. It’s delicious, and everybody loves them. The only thing about Bisquick is it comes in a box, and you’ve got to mix it in a bowl, you’ve got to add, you know, it sounds crazy. But I think, just generally speaking, as things get more and more convenient, even the concept of pulling a bowl out and pouring stuff into it, and usually spilling some of it, and then putting some water in and mixing it up and then pouring it in and then having to clean the bowl … it’s just that extra step that you know, maybe we’re not having pancakes as often as we could be. And so my lovely fiancée came home the other day with just pure delight and excitement in her eyes. She loves pancakes. She loves making pancakes, she’s very good at making pancakes. She uses Bisquick all the time. And she showed me the most amazing packaging innovation. So what they’ve done, and this cost a penny. I know how much it costs to make these things. So this is about a penny of cost. So it didn’t radically change their costs. What they did is they took Bisquick and instead of putting it in a box, they put it into a plastic jug. And it’s got a curvy shape, so you can kind of put your hand in the middle of it and hold it really well. So it’s got a nice human architecture to it, some nice UI on the bottle. And you can see from the label that this is a very modern type of bottle because the label is imprinted into the bottle. That means that the label was applied to the bottle when the bottle was being vacuformed. What they typically do is they’ll put these bottles into a case and so there’s a thing called in-case filling where all the bottles are filled at the same time in a case, so it came from a high-volume production line. I’m just looking at this right now and these pancakes look delicious actually. They’ve got a four stack of buttermilk pancakes really beautifully browned with strawberries, a little sprig of basil and some blueberries and then a bit of butter you can see kind of under the edge and then syrup drizzling down on three sides. Some compelling … Anyway, they took Bisquick out of the box and they stuck it into a bottle and the bottle is only half full. There’s a bottle half full of Bisquick and what you do is you open the bottle, you pour the water in the bottle, close the bottle, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, and then you pour straight from the bottle into the frying pan – pancakes. To make a bottle like this is usually about a cent in volume. So it’s just like so freaking obvious. And I’m sure that they’ve got a little bit less Bisquick in there than they normally put in the box. I mean, I can’t even tell anymore, they’ve completely broken the cost price comparison because it’s just a completely different form factor. But what they did is they eliminated the step of pouring into a bowl, they eliminated the step of pouring in the water into the bowl, they eliminated the mixing in the bowl, they’ve eliminated the cleaning of a bowl, they eliminated the cleaning of a spoon, and they’ve eliminated the cleaning of the counter, which probably gets a bit of Bisquick dust on it. And once you make it, you can put it back on the refrigerator, you don’t have to use it all at once. So you can pull it out the next day and go shake, shake, shake and pour more so you can actually just have pancakes on demand for the weekend. It’s freaking brilliant. Like it is so beautifully simple and so incredibly brilliant and so smart, I’ve got to take my hat off to whomever came up with this at Betty Crocker, you are a genius. And I hope they gave you a giant, giant raise because it is a really great idea. So just add water, Bisquick, shake and pour. Okay, so that’s my first and I think that’s a great example customer experience because suddenly I’m going to use a lot more Bisquick and have a really good time doing it and be grateful to Bisquick for thinking this thing through. Super smart.

Okay, let’s move on to Lego. The title of the article in Inc. is a customer discovered their $350 Lego set was missing pieces. The company’s response was brilliant. So I’m obviously not going to read the whole article. In fact, I’d encourage you to search for it and read it. But it goes on a little bit about Lego. And then someone named John bought the Mos Eisley Cantina set at Target. By the way. I do not have this particular set (hint, hint) and I do really want this set. The Mos Eisley Cantina set is highly desirable, very hard to find (hint, hint). And it’s got a 400-page instruction book, it’s pretty awesome. So he bought this, and he opened it up, and he was missing a whole bag. Now, sometimes you miss a piece or two, but he missed an entire bag, which is actually kind of unusual. Bag number 14 was missing from the set. So he just went on to the Lego website and said he was missing the bag. And actually, if you are an experienced Legoer, you’ll know that you can order missing pieces pretty easily. And you can order pieces. Sometimes pieces break. That’s pretty rare but I once dropped a whole space shuttle on the ground, and I twisted and broke a couple pieces. So I got replacements for that. And you can get pieces that you need. Lego’s amazing that way. They’ll send an individual piece in an envelope to you in the mail. It’s actually incredible. So he sent a note saying he was missing the bag. And then he got a reply from Lego customer service. He actually posted the email that they sent him. And I’m going to read the email to you because the magic of this entire thing is not that they gave him the bag, which they did, obviously, because Lego has been doing this for a long time. And it’s not that they replied to him, which Lego always does. But you know, it’s uncommon still, you still have lots of really weird customer service experiences that that go wrong. And I’m going to talk about one from Apple in a second that was very surprising. And then you know, it was just done with a little bit of smile and it’s the smile, I think, that makes these things really work. So LEGO customer service, “Dear John”, (that could end in a very bad situation, a Dear John letter). So, “Dear John, thanks for getting in touch with us and providing that information! I am so sorry that you are this missing Bag 14 from your Mos Eisley Cantina”. Here’s where it gets fun. “This must be the work of Lord Vader”. Keep going, “Fear not for I have hired Han to get that bag right out to you. Your order number is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and will be arriving in the next seven to ten days or less than the twelve parsecs. Have a bricktastic day, and may the force be with you :-)”. Just awesome. You it’s just a little bit like you can just have fun with this. I don’t know if this is something that’s trained in the system, or someone just did it. But it’s a pretty impressive email and took what could be a pretty disappointing situation and turned it into something quite delightful. And so kudos to John for publishing it, kudos to Lego for all their great work and for continuing to do amazing things in the area of customer experience. So there were two highlights.

Here’s a lowlight. So I had an odd experience of Apple this week. And I don’t know how to feel about it. So my lovely fiancée, Rachel, has a pair of Apple AirPod Max headphones, which I actually got her as a gift. And they’re engraved with her nickname on them. And they’re her favorite color. And there’s a big deal getting these. And they just don’t work. They don’t connect via Bluetooth to her laptop, and she uses it for school. And so they’re kind of useless when they don’t connect. It’s not the laptop because I have a different pair, a different color, and different nickname. And they connect really easily all the time. So it’s the headphones, not the laptop. She goes into the Apple Store, presents them with the problem. They’re like, “Yeah, no problem”. It’s a good experience there. “We’ll get back to you”. They take them. And then a few days later, they arrived back in the mail. Here’s where it kind of gets weird. She gets the box in the mail, and she opens it up. And what’s interesting is, and she made this comment to me, she said, “You know, it didn’t feel like an Apple box, the box that they returned the headphones in, it was not the same build quality as a box you would purchase these in”. And I think it’s their special return low-cost return boxes, but it’s very interesting. It’s the first thing she noticed. she’s like, “I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel right”. And Apple’s created a real persona around the unboxing and around the quality of the boxes and they’re not very expensive things. These are still pennies. And by cheaping out on the repair box, it made the headphones feel cheaper. So that’s a big watch out. That was a very interesting insight to me because just because the item is being returned or being repaired doesn’t mean it’s less valuable. In fact, if anything, don’t you want to have trumpets surrounding it, “Ta da! we fixed your thing, it’s beautiful again”, like it feels like you want to celebrate that. And I was like, “yeah, that’s weird”. It’s kind of a weird cheap box and just paper inserts to hold it. And it was, it was held well, so it wasn’t jostling around. So it was functionally strong. But it was the experience of it, and the feel of it was very weak.

So she opens the box, first thing she noticed is that the headband that goes across the top, somehow, she’d gotten it dirty, and she touches everything so who knows, but they had said they would clean it, they didn’t clean it. So it’s still dirty. And it is a mesh, so it’s really hard to clean. And so that was kind of disappointing that already one thing they were going to fix didn’t get fixed. And then she looks at it, and she kind of turns the box over. And she’s like … aah. So the way these headphones work is that they have two ear pads, one for right and one for left and the ear pads are a pretty significant part. Like if you buy them separately, they’re like $100. And then the ear pads snap in magnetically into sort of this docking mechanism, which is where the sound comes from. But the beauty of it is you can remove the ear pads and put new ones in when they wear out or if they get dirty or something like that happens. So she opens the box. And they didn’t return the ear pads. So they’re no longer functional, they’re not even working headphones anymore. And she can’t even test to see if they’re working or connecting better. And the note, if you read it, you had to read it a few times to understand it, but basically what the note said is we couldn’t find anything wrong. So basically, “your experience, your negative experience saying that it’s not connecting, we’re not buying it.” That’s kind of what they said. That’s just a shocking Apple experience. We looked at each other dumbfounded, like, I didn’t even know what to say. And I actually said to her, “I’m really sorry”. And she was “why are you sorry?”. “I don’t know, I just feel really bad right now”. You know, I had nothing to do with this. But I just feel really badly. It made me sad for humanity. It was just awful. “Oh, here’s your headphones. They’re still broken. We couldn’t find anything wrong with them. We didn’t bother cleaning them. And oh, by the way, we stole half of them. You can’t use them anymore”. It’s like … wow. And in order to get this remediated, which I think she’s on the path to remediation, she had to call and then she had to explain it. And of course, it took forever to even explain to the Apple person on the phone what had happened because they couldn’t really believe it. And then I think they’re kind of like, “yeah, sure you lost the ear pads”. Like the whole thing was just like, “ay sharumba”. So I think the coaching on this one is, “Hey, if you’re going to take someone’s merchandise back to repair it or fix it, return it in better condition than you found it and return it from a packaging standpoint in a more exciting package than you found it. Make people feel like this is better than new. If you return it broken, dirty, and in a scuzzy little package it somehow degrades the overall quality of the product; it doesn’t feel the same anymore. Very interesting experience.

So that’s it for today. I do have a couple of other ones I want to talk about, but I’m going to save those for the future. I’ve got a very interesting FAO Schwarz story and a bit of coaching on that one for our friends at FAO Schwarz. Super disappointing. And then I’ve got some other cool ones that we’ll talk about as well. But for today, I’m going to wrap. This is the Unified CXM Experience. I’m your host, Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr and I’ll see you … next time.

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Grad Conn

Chief Experience Officer, Sprinklr

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