How to Surprise and Delight Your Customers

Posted by Jim Belosic on 30 Mar 2015 / 0 Comment

Monday through Friday, my company ShortStack sends out an email to thousands of our subscribers with that day’s blog post. On a typical day, we get around 20 kickbacks from subscribers who have set up autoresponders to notify senders that they’re out of the office. Most of the kickbacks come from people who are on vacation. But sometimes there are messages like “I’m recovering from surgery” or “I’m on maternity leave” or “I’m at a conference.”

We used to ignore these emails, but recently we started responding to some of them. We send along well wishes for the most part, but sometimes we share a link where the recipient can “order” a free company t-shirt.

Of course we still get a few autoresponders for a second time, but we also get a heck of a lot of happy thank you notes when these folks return to work. We’ve also gotten a handful of really nice shout outs on social media. Responding to autoresponders, as funny as that may sound, taught me a few key lessons about where to look for PR opportunities:

1. Constantly be on the lookout for ways to “surprise and delight”

Once you start actively looking for way to surprise and delight your customers, you’ll realize the opportunities are infinite. If there’s one company from which I’ve learned about the value of spontaneity,  it’s MailChimp. They’re constantly looking for the littlest opportunity to make one of their user’s day. I got to witness one of their small acts of delight back in November of 2013 when one of my employees, Chelsea, excitedly told the office she got an email from Palmer Houchins, MailChimp’s Brand Manager (who I like to think of as their Chief Surprise and Delight Officer). In a Facebook post, MailChimp promoted a book one of their employees had written. Chelsea made a comment on the post and the next day she got an email from Palmer who wrote, “I noticed your comment on MailChimp’s Facebook about John Foreman’s Data Smart book.  We have a few extra copies of the book around the office, and we’d be happy to mail you one.  Just send me your mailing address, and we’ll get it in the mail to you.” Beyond having an amazing product, this is one perfect example of why MailChimp has so many raving and loyal customers.

2. Create opportunities for your business to do amazing, special things for your customers and fans 

If you’re not happening upon opportunities to delight and surprise your customers and fans, create your own opportunities. You might remember in 2010 when Amy Jo Martin, the founder of Digital Royalty, worked with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal to start “Random Acts of Shaqness” on Twitter. They created this opportunity for themselves and as a result made headlines around the world. Another great example of a brand creating their own opportunities is when Zappos and Gary Vaynerchuk both sent pizza to twitter user @mehwolfy in Reno, Nevada.

The story goes like this: @mehwolfy tweeted, “I’m hungry. I bet @zappos isn’t going to do s#!$ about it.” Another twitter user chimed in saying, “@mehwolfy careful. I heard @zappos ordered some people a pizza once.” @mehwolfy then responded saying. “There’s no way @zappos would send a pizza to 533 Lander Street, Reno Nevada 89509. @garyvee might though.” This twitter conversion prompted both Zappos and Gary Vaynerchuk to send pizza to Twitter user @mehwolfy. Could Zappos and Gary have ignored the tweets? Sure. But because they didn’t, they were able to surprise a fan, create some excitement in the Biggest Little City, and most important, create a positive association with their brands. A handful of people will undoubtedly help keep that story alive when talking about the importance of listening on social media.

3. Deliver human responses, always

When we respond to our subscriber’s autoresponders, we don’t copy and paste a pre-crafted response and send it off. We respond in a way that any human would. If we respond to someone who was on maternity leave, we tell her congrats! If we respond to someone who was on medical leave, we tell the person we hope they get well soon. What we found, not surprisingly, was that people respond really well to genuine human interactions. And when interactions like this come from a brand, they’re often surprised –in a good way. I can recall in 2013 when it was announced that the company MediaTemple was going to be acquired by GoDaddy. As soon as the news broke, MediaTemple started to get a lot of backlash on Twitter. One Twitter user @thekevinjones tweeted, “I’d hate to be a customer or twitter support for @mediatemple today.” MediaTemple’s response was perfect. They said, “@thekevinjones We’re still happy to be here! #sendcoffee *NH.” So Kevin did just that — he sent coffee. MediaTemple responded two times more with the most humble, human responses. You can read  the whole story here , but the point is: MediaTemple had a real conversation with one of their Twitter users and it made it an impact. As Kevin pointed out, “They didn’t try to sell me on their acquisition and they didn’t pitch me on their product. They just spoke with me. They treated me like a person, not a user. At the end of the day, that’s all I want.”

Sometimes in can be difficult to be human, considering so many of us work in a mostly virtual world.  But it’s not impossible. When is the last time your business did something to surprise and delight a customer and/or fan? Let me know what you did and how the person responded in the comment section below.








If you love French delights with a true taste of the cultural country then Brasserie Blanc is the place for you. There are many branches dotted around London and each one endeavours to deliver a meal resembling a homecooked French dish (hypotehetically speaking- your mother is a great French cook). This comfortable space is great for an evening meal with family or friends, especially if you love a touch of authentic France.


Three Words: Authentic, Sincere, Comfortable

The Lowdown: Any foody worth their salt cellar will have heard of Raymond Blanc, the inimitable French chef who has become one of Britain’s favourite cooks and is owner of the double-michelin star awarded Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. In 2006 he rebranded Le Petit Blanc Brasserie in Oxford as Brasserie Blanc, and since then we’ve seen little pockets of France appearing all over jolly England, ready for those that want to indulge in the true taste of a country famous for its gastronomic delights.

In 2012 London’s Charlotte Street became another home to Brasserie Blanc, and it promises all the warmth, comfort and simple yet delicious food that these restaurants have become known for.

Location: Charlotte Street is a buzzing and lively row of eateries and watering holes in Fitzrovia. Just wandering past the glowing restaurant fronts will have you salivating and desperate for a cosy bolt-hole.

The Occasion: This place is perfect for a date night – romantic, intimate, and French is after all the language of love. It’s also ideal for this time of year – when it’s chilly outside, the indulgence of French food is perfect.

Decor: Wood panelling, low lighting from wrought-iron lamps and leather-lined booths tick all the boxes for your classic bistro. Manuscript pages framed on the walls make you think the literati could have been here figuring out who their latest doomed heroine would be, while sipping on cognac and nibbling a croque monsieur.

Atmosphere: Romantic, intimate and just refined enough to make you feel like you’re having a special night out without feeling intimidated. In the daytime it’s also the perfect place to drop in to grab a coffee and croissant, or treat yourself to a lunchtime nibble.

Dining room

Culinary Concept: This is French cuisine through and through, using fresh ingredients and introducing the odd exciting twist to classic dishes.

What we tried: For starters it has to be the twin French staples of snails and steak tartar. The escargot arrived sans-shell, delicious little orbs of garlicky goodness, dressed with a vivid green herb butter that had just enough savoury edge to cushion some of the richness. The tartar arrived in a pink mound of prime meat, with the glowing egg yolk shimmering atop – one knife pierce and it was running onto the plate in liquid sunshine. Simple but selective ingredients combined to great effect.

When it came to mains, the rare steak cut like butter, and was served with a tantalising béarnaise sauce so good that the dauphinoise potatoes were almost unnecessary (but still greatly enjoyed). A dish of whole spiced gilt-head bream was sensational – huge chunks of snowy coloured fish accompanied by the aniseed tang of fennel and star anise. A chocolate soufflé to finish was fluffy heaven – sumptuous but not claggy.

For next time: The ‘Six Hour’ Beef Short-rib looks like it could be a real winner – slow cooked and served with a red wine sauce and mousseline potatoes, it’s pure autumn comfort food.

Veggie delights: The French aren’t necessarily renowned for catering to the vegetarians out there, but Brasserie Blanc has some tempting options that even carnivores might consider. Nothing beats a cheese soufflé to start, while the main of Crepe Francomptoise with mushrooms, spinach and cheese is sure to fill up your veggie dining partner.

Al Fresco

Best of the booze: Brasserie Blanc have an exciting new addition to their fizz menu, in the form of their very own sparkling wine. The Blanc de Blancs is light, refreshing, and a great foil for the well-known Italian prosecco. Its flavour bursts with green fruit and is a perfect accompaniment to the rich cuisine.

Fun Fact: Raymond Blanc was never professionally trained – he learnt much of what he knows from his mother, and has now trained some of the top chefs in the country.

Basically: Brasserie Blanc offers the chance to try superb French food without the eye-watering price tag – along with the laidback Brasserie style that makes for a great evening. Perfect for the coming chilly weather, it’s an ideal place to hole up, order some sparkling wine, tuck into some tremendous dishes and pretend you’re tucked away in a little bistro in rural France.

8 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2LS
020 7636 4975

BOE Magazine