My friend, Cynthia Compton, owns 4 Kids Books and Toys near Indianapolis. Her store, as many toy stores do, offers to host birthday parties. The kids come in, do crafts and activities, have fun and (hopefully) spend some money in the store. Yes, there is a fee the birthday family must pay. But the true hope in a service like this is to get the kids (and their parents) into the store, a chance for them to try out the store’s products, and to make the kids and their families feel good about the store.
In another word – Branding.
In Cynthia’s own words…
Just got back from a “remote” birthday party. We offer on-site parties to our customers if they want us to do them. This family has two autistic kids, and the noise and stress level of our store is too much. So I did a party in their living room for the boys and 2 friends. I whispered for two hours. It was a very nice time…
…we had a rabbit party. I borrowed some rabbits from a kid who raises them for 4H. We spread a tarp on the floor, and I brought a bunch of cardboard boxes to make tunnels. I had two big fat white rabbits that were used to handling, and then a hutch full of little grey babies. The boys made salads for the bunnies, we rolled balls for them to chase, and we ate carrot cake cupcakes. Oh, and I had short white lab coats with their names embroidered over the pocket, and I borrowed some stethescopes so we listened for rabbit heartbeats. It was really fun. Something I couldn’t have done with a lot of kids, but 4 was perfect. One of the birthday guys is pretty hard to reach, but he let us put a rabbit in his lap, and hold one of the babies up to his cheek. Mom was pleased, the bunnies were good, and no one got bitten (which was my nightmare on Friday night.)
When Cynthia was asked how she came up with this idea, she replied…
I met the kid with the rabbits at the farmers market this summer, and so the bunnies have been on my mind. She brings them every week to her family’s stand (we get eggs from them) and usually has a different hutch of babies. I’ve been wanting to do something with them, and this opportunity just presented itself. The birthday boys don’t have any pets, and bunnies are quiet….. It just kind of came together. It was probably a huge business risk from a liability standpoint, but we all survived the day.
She didn’t get the kids into her store. She didn’t get the kids’ friends and their families into her store. She didn’t get to show off any of her products. But tell me… Do you think that family will sing her praises and promote her store to everyone they know? You bet!
That, my friends, is WOW Customer Service. How far are you willing to go to make a customer’s day?
PS I know Cynthia and, yes, she is simply that nice and helpful.