Idea of The Week: A zip lock bag, 4 Advils, a napkin & printed instructions?

with Neil Godin

>The Situation:

An email. From MD regular Vicky White, of Life Design Strategies. Telling me about her trip to the endodontist for a root canal. But she didn’t want to talk about the root canal – she wanted to share what happened as she left the doctor’s office. “I was handed a gift bag,” Vicky said. “Inside it was a bottle of water and a straw, an energy bar, a tiny little zip lock baggie with four Advil painkillers, a napkin, and printed instructions on how soon to eat.” This little surprise package impressed Vicky, but not as much as the call she received the following morning – from her endodontist – calling her personally – to make sure she was all right. To put it simply, she was simply blown away.

>The Idea:

The idea (again) is differentiation. Cutting ourselves from the crowd. Creating memorable experiences. Finding unique and meaningful ways to show appreciation. (And generating the kind of buzz that is just great for business).  In her Life Design blog, Vicky shares a number of suggestions that just about any business can use to create a special experience for customers (visit to check it out).

>The Risk:

There is a risk that even the best customer care program can become mechanical, and lose its luster. But Vicky’s doctor (Dr. Howard Bittner, of Langley Endodontists, here in Metro Vancouver), keeps their program fresh by asking patients to tell them what they could improve. Here is Vicky again: “I sent my endodontist a link to my blog post, and got the following note back: ‘Thanks for the kind words. We have devoted a lot of thought, planning, and creativity to creating the best experience our clients have ever had in a dentist’s office. A lofty but worthy goal. And it is nice to be appreciated. Now what could we do better?’” When Vicky wrote back with a suggestion, she received the following response: “I have emailed your thoughts to our team, and we will use it for our next meeting, and see if we can figure out a better way. This is the fun part.”

Vicky White’s Life Design Strategies blog

>The Reward:

By asking patients for feedback – and brainstorming ways to improve at team meetings – the Langley Endodontists crew aren’t likely to let their customer care program get stale. I like the phrase, “this is the fun part.” In my own experience (in working on marketing with companies of every size and kind), it’s always great to see everyone’s excitement and enthusiasm when we brainstorm ways to blow customers away. It is fun. And, of course, it’s just great for business.

>The Call to Action:

Why not take a moment to go (why not go now) to Vicky’s blog post, and check out the 12 ideas she offers for creating an exceptional customer experience. Here is the URL once again: . When you get there, you’ll see her remark that, “if a root canal guy can make his patients feel good, imagine what you could do!” (Yes. Go ahead and imagine.)

See you next time.


Ps – Jonathan’s workshop on “Social Media 101 for Business” is held each month, here in Langley, BC. These full day, hands-on workshops have been a great success, with over 50 local businesses attending – and now active on Social Networks. His last class before the summer is coming up on June 16.  This is a full-day hands-on workshop.  Bring your laptop and leave with everything you need to conduct a social media marketing program. For complete details visit  You can contact jonathan at or call 778.378.9100. But don’t delay – as seating is limited and every class sells out.

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