Customer Experience Heroes: Mr Collins the one legged baker

As a poor student I would visit our local baker, Mr Collins, to buy bread.  He was a kindly soul who’d lost a leg doing battle in the desert and remarkably had a wooden prosthetic. This would clunk on the floor as he walked around his bakery like a flour-covered pirate, carrying trays of hot bread, pies and buns whilst engaging in friendly banter with his regular customers. I’d always try to arrive just before closing time because that was when he reduced prices in order to sell the last of his stock for the day.  We’d have a brief chat and if there were any buns left he’d slip one into the bag for good measure.  How good I’d feel tucking into an iced finger bun on my walk home. 

Even though I have no doubt Mr Collins had never heard the phrase ‘customer experience’, he was a natural. 
  1. I was able to buy a great product at a great price.  Collins’ Bakery identified the needs of his student customer and offered products and prices to match (often personalised to how much money I had left in my pocket).
  2. He always took time to engage with me… note I say ‘me’!  We had a fleeting but personal relationship which he valued, as I did.  There was always an acknowledgement as I entered his shop. When it was my turn to be served we would have a chat.  It never inconvenienced anyone else in the queue; in fact each conversation amused the other customers while they waited.
  3. Mr Collins was remarkable, different, someone you could talk about to your mates.  This meant everyone knew him and made an effort to buy from Collins’ Bakery rather than the supermarket across the road.  Which raises the question; do we make the experience we give our customers ‘remarkable’?  Something they might comment upon.  Much has been talked about the importance of recommendation in recent years but in order to help people recommend your product or service it has to be remarkable, people need something to talk about, otherwise why would they bring it up in conversation?
  4. I got free buns, not every time but sometimes, which made me feel special.

Why not do something ‘remarkable’ today for your customer?  Give them buns.