Magic Moments in Service Marketing

Customer experience, Branding | Nick Wake | 29 January 2014

Who needs a big team of marketers in-house, when you can have an army of (unpaid) advocates on the street, selling your business to everyone they meet?

Having been in retail marketing most of my working life, I know the value of a magic moment. That second when an unexpected element in the experience turns a customer from being wholly satisfied into a lean, mean marketing machine….on your behalf! Who needs a big team of marketers in-house, when you can have an army of (unpaid) advocates on the street, selling your business to everyone they meet?

I’ve just taken on another of these unpaid marketing jobs myself, on behalf of Harvey Nichols, or more precisely their Brasserie at the Oxo Tower. Here’s why.

For a long time, the Oxo Tower has been on my list of places I’d like to eat at, but subconsciously felt I couldn’t really afford (two hungry teenagers, university on the horizon etc, etc). However the advent of a significant birthday and a well-timed email with a suitably enticing ‘meal deal’, providing we didn’t mind sitting down by the less busy time of 6pm, was all the Sales Promotion I needed to move me swiftly through the buying process. This was made all the more easy by an efficient online booking process which I completed with a few clicks of my mouse while relaxing on my sofa at home.

From the moment we arrived and stepped out of the lift, it felt like a special occasion. The young lady who first took our coats and then escorted us to the table, politely enquired if we had eaten here before. I replied no, but that it was my birthday and, in the vain hope of a flattering reply, invited her to guess which one? She responded with a charming smile and diplomatically advised me that this was a question she couldn’t possibly answer. I was more than happy to settle for the smile. But her offer to fetch me some slippers was a tad cheeky……..

Anyway, enough of that. The meal was excellent, the view of the river stunning and the service simply spot on. The value proposition stacked up in every way, even without the magic moment. But the magic moment is the reason I’m now writing this blog, one consequence of which may be a surge in Cambridge Marketing College students requesting the Oxo Tower experience as the reward for completing their studies. Parents are advised to check for the meal deal.

This was the moment: When my pudding arrived there was a candle in the scoop of ice cream and the words Happy Birthday written beautifully in chocolate across the plate. Nice. Impressive. Brilliant.
Nice because that’s what I thought immediately I saw it. Impressive because the only person who knew about my birthday was the most junior member of the team as a result of some spontaneous banter on arrival, yet she chose to on-communicate and this prompted an action. Brilliant because the only cost involved was the candle. The rest was just People and Process.

Reflecting on the experience from a loyalty theory perspective this is what happened: A well-timed email, with an attractive offer, moved me from a Prospect to a Customer. A swirl of chocolate and a candle moved me from a Customer to an Advocate.
From the top of this ladder, I’m now shouting Oxo Tower. That’s clever marketing.

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