Today I want to share one of my best customer service stories with you. This is a story by Marco De Veglia, Italy, titled: “the story of Yem and Arm”. This story is quite insightful and very important for improving customer experience management. As you know, today’s social customer’s kingship is more pronounced than it was before the advent of internet. They know more than you could imagine and you have one thousand and one competitors who are constantly throwing baits at your customers. So, your surest bet is to make your customers loyal and once you able to do that you can be rest assured that your customers will not jump into your competitors’ wagon no matter what.
“Customer Experience is very important for today’s sophisticated customers. But if you don’t develop a working Customer Relationship, customer experience won’t help you compete with the price guys. Always remember you are not in business to delight customers. You are in business to be delighted by them.” — Research Gate
And the story begins:
Once upon a time, there were two men, who sold apples. One, who was called Yem was very proud of his apples. In his Apple Heaven shop, he loved to put them in stacks of different heights and shapes, he liked to mix different types of apples and different colors and smells, so that his clients loved to stop at his little shop and have a delightful apple experience.
The other man, who was called Arm didn’t focus much on how his apples looked. In his Apple Connection shop, he mostly left them in boxes or in huge stacks he kept in the warehouse on the back. He never bothered to mix colors and type of apples. However, he knew his clients by name and always offered them their preferred apples.
It was a true apple relationship. Yem and Arm were good friends; they didn’t feel themselves as competitors. “I that it’s important how my apples look so they love to shop at my store” Yem used to tell his friend. “I think it’s important to know what my clients like, so I give them the right apple when they need it”. And the fact is, both had delighted clients. Clients of Yem, loved to look at the apples, loved to weight a Stark in their hand in order to feel the “appleish” shape, or to smell a perfumed Mcintosh, or occasionally to taste a Sayaka who Yem had sliced for clients to try. Clients of Arm, on the contrary, didn’t bother that his shop looked not quite as interesting as the other apple store. They simply loved that Arm knew their name, their preferred apples and that he almost magically knew how to let them try new apples they usually liked.
One day, in their town, a huge Applemart opened. It stocked more apples than the two little shops combined: in fact, more apples than Yem and Arm ever knew exist or have seen. They were apple experts, but the guys at Applemart were experts too and they had the resources to find the best apples in the World, and offer them at the best price to customers.
No, they didn’t care about displaying them artistic shapes or polish them or care about what apple their customers liked. They didn’t know their customers at all, but they were great at moving huge quantity of apples through their big Applemart store.
Yem started complaining “Those guys don’t love apples like I do. And my clients love apples like I do, they will keep coming”. Arm was more concerned about the price of apples at Applemart, because sometimes they sell for less than the price he could buy wholesale. However, he knew that their client took the time to extablish a relationship with him, took the time to teach him about what they liked or disliked so that he knew how to satisfy their apple needs.
And, in fact, Arm clients kept coming almost like the huge Applemart didn’t exist. He lost some clients, but they were the ones he had seem rarely, the ones that didn’t like to try new apple flavors, the ones who liked also pears, peaches and bananas.
Yem clients kept coming too to his wonderful shop. That shop was really a place to spend some time, at least for apple lovers. They still paid visits to the shops, tasted the new apple on demo, weighted the Red Delicious and smelled the parfumed Fuji. However, they started buying less. The experience was still tops, but they bought less. Or worse: they enjoyed the experience at Apple Heaven and then bought at Applemart.
On the other hand, Arm started to offer an automatic apple replenishment service, so that customers didn’t need even to go to his shop, they got the apple delivered automatically, with the right type, quantity and frequence. Customers loved that service and they spread the word. And word of mouth reached Yem’s clients too, who didn’t like the rather basic Apple Connection store and used to visit Apple Heaven.
Slowly, some of Yem’s clients started migrating to Arm’s store and word of mouth kept spreading about how great was to have the right apple when they wanted it. Admittedly, sometimes all apple customers just shopped at Applemart, because it was convenient, and it had great sales (they sold at a loss, but they would make it in volume). Yem kept improving his store experience; he added books about apples, apple pies, apple candies and even a trip to Appleland for real apple lovers. And some of his clients were really delighted, but at the end of the day, while the experience was great, they have many other things to do than visit Apple Heaven. Yem’s business was struggling.
So, one day, Yem approached Arm and asked if he wanted to buy his shop. He could so offer a true apple experience to his customers, who appeared to be so loyal to Apple Connection. Arm saw the deal, he always liked what Yem did just he liked more to focus on building a customer relationship and database. But Arm knew that only Yem could be able to keep Apple Heaven the true apple heaven it was, so he hired Yem as customer experience director for both shops. Arms would have kept focusing on customer relationship and together the two would have been a formidable competitor for much bigger Applemart.
And so they did. And Arm’s Apple Connection clients started enjoying the magic customer experience that Yem provided, while Apple Heaven customers would enjoy the personalized service that made Arm successful. The two shops were rechristened AppleLife and the last news we had is they are doing great, expanding their chain through their country.