When I grow up I want to sell kaleidoscopes! What could be more rewarding than helping customers purchase a product that brings such joy and pleasure? But, if you’ve been a small business owner longer than twenty minutes you know there is more to creating happy customers than ensuring they get happy products.
With the holidays upon us, and three young granddaughters with healthy appetites for unique animated things, I had been on the hunt for “the” present to light up their Christmas morning.The big boxes like Wal-Mart, Target and Toys “R Us had the usual predictable stuff. So I realized my find was going to come from a small business. One stop along the path to squeals was a small toy store on Main Street. It specialized in unique, hard-to-find toys. Once inside the story my eye spotted a tiny pink drone for $35. The picture on the box was of a girl about ten years old operating the remote controlled drone.
“Tell me about this toy?” I asked the storeowner. “It flies,” he said as if that thought had not occurred to me. “Is it safe for an eight-year-old?” I continued, trying my best to turn the corners of his mouth in a direction that matched the objective of the toy. “It depends on the eight-year-old,” he said without looking up. His unhelpfulness began to provide a clear reason his shop was so tiny…and, uninhabited except for me. “I’ll keep looking,” I told him as I backed out of his now chilly shop. As the door closed, I heard him cynically say, “Suit yourself!”
Later that day I logged ontoKaleidoscopes To You.com in Manly, IA. Just the name gave me hope this was a customer-centric enterprise. Bad visions of “Unique Toys for Me” were still in my head as I thought about how hard the shopkeeper had worked to make sure I did not buy his toys. Their website was colorful and fun; ordering was easy and simple. My order was for a unique combination of a kaleidoscope and a colorful liquid motion wand—the one with slow moving sparkly oil inside. The video on their website showed the image of colorful fireworks this combination created.
The order came faster than I expected. It was actually more attractive than the gorgeous photo on the kaleidoscopestoyou.com website. But, here is the best part. The invoice had a smiley face and a personalized hand written note from Karl that said, “Thank you and enjoy. Please do visit us again some time!” And, this was just a $16 item! It was a kaleidoscope response to a kaleidoscope order!
And, now for the rest of the story. My newest book coming out in February isentitled Kaleidoscope. I needed a special gift for the fifty or so people I am asking to help me with book promotion. “Why not a kaleidoscope?” I thought. So, I not only ordered fifty kaleidoscopes, I called kaleidoscopestoyou.com to thank them for their great service. Guess what!! The Karl who signed my invoice is Karl Schilling, co-owner of the company along with his wife, Jean. Now, that is seriously sparkly service!