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Annette Franz

Customer Care

What’s the Secret to a Great Customer Experience?

Give ‘em the pickle!

Published: Monday, January 18, 2021 - 12:02

I’ll keep today’s article simple—and fun. Bob Farrell, founder of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors, shared the secret to a great customer experience in 1973 (yes, almost 50 years ago!), when he developed a motivational speech for new employees called “Give ’em the pickle!” It was based on a letter he received from a disappointed customer.

The key lessons of that letter? Check out this video to get the details on the letter and his speech.

What’s the extra or special thing that you do to make (and keep) customers happy? Certainly, Farrell advocates for you to make serving others your No. 1 priority.

And don’t be opportunistic. Don’t make a dime (or 75 cents) just because you can. That’s the point of the pickle story.

In my book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the Customer in Customer Experience (self-published, 2019), I wrote a chapter titled, “Houston, We Have a Problem.” In it, I detailed some of the reasons for customer experience strategy failures. One of those reasons is a misplaced purpose, which is often about maximizing shareholder value rather than creating and nurturing a customer.

One of the stories I share in the book is about this quote from Nirmal Mulye, CEO of Nostrum Laboratories, defending his decision to raise the price of a drug five-fold, to $2,400: “I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can... to sell the product for the highest price.”

Mulye says he’s in the business to make money. But what about customers? What about the impact on them? Does he even care?

Compare and contrast that to Bob Farrell’s pickle story. Yes, I know. One is 75 cents, while the other is hundreds of dollars (or more). The same principle still applies.

“The trick is to find out what the customer wants. Make sure they get it. That’s the pickle.”
Bob Farrell

So, what’s the secret to a great customer experience? Do what’s right for and by the customer. That’s the magic. It’s as simple as that.

First published Dec. 30, 2020, on the CX Journey blog.


About The Author

Annette Franz’s picture

Annette Franz

Annette Franz, CCXP is founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She’s got 25 years of experience in both helping companies understand their employees and customers and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience – so that, together, we can design a better experience for all constituents. She's an author (she wrote the book on customer understanding!), a speaker, and a customer experience thought leader and influencer. She serves as Vice Chairwoman on the Board of Directors of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and is an Advisory Board member for CX@Rutgers.