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These days, many companies reach out to their customers to get feedback on their products and services, as well as their overall shopping experience. You may find an invitation to take this kind of survey on the bottom of a receipt, in a post-purchase email, or even on a website pop-up window, among other places. And to encourage shoppers to participate, there is often a small reward for doing so, or a chance to win a bigger prize.

Survey - Excellent CheckedThe big question is, do these surveys make a difference? Are the answers properly evaluated? Are the questions even relevant? Is proper follow-up done? Continue Reading »

If you walk around Toronto, Vancouver or any other Canadian city today, or any other day in late October or early November in any given year, you’ll notice something. Most people walk down the street, into business meetings and pretty much everywhere with poppies attached to their clothing.

PoppySo what do the poppies represent? They’re a symbol of remembrance. Just like November 11 is Veterans Day in the US, in Canada it’s Remembrance Day. Both serve the same purpose – remembering those that fought for their country during World War I and II. But the way this day is seen in Canada is different. Continue Reading »

It’s not coincidental I’m posting this today, March 23, when there are two major nationwide giveaways. Of course, free is good for us customers. But getting customers in once when you are giving something away for free is one thing…getting them to come back and pay for it next time is another.

So first, to the free offers. Starbucks is hosting free pastry day at its US and Canada stores. Download the coupon to receive a free pastry until 10:30 a.m. with the purchase of a “handcrafted” beverage. They’re also using the event to promote the other ways in which their pastries are “free” – that would be, free of artificial ingredients.

Ben & Jerry’s is hosting their annual free cone day. Anyone can come in and get a free cone between noon and 8:00 p.m. No coupon or purchase is required (though you can probably guarantee you’ll have to wait in line!). Ben & Jerry’s has been doing this for years – as a thank you to their customers.

The intent is clear – besides the good PR, they’re hoping you’ll like it so much that you’ll come back to pay for more. Continue Reading »

For much of February, many of us, even those who might not normally watch sports, watched as the world’s best winter sport athletes competed for gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Like most host countries, Canada spent a lot of time and money not only to showcase the host city, but also showcase the success of their athletes. They did this through a program called “Own the Podium” (OTP). Depending on how you looked at the Games, Canada succeeded. Or they failed miserably. Continue Reading »

It’s important that companies be consistent in their practices. This includes in the products they offer, the procedures that apply to customers and their marketing programs. If I, as a customer, don’t know what to expect – which is exactly what happens if a company keeps changing things – then I’m likely to go somewhere where I know what I’m getting.

Let me explain through some examples of inconsistencies that have been apparent to me. Continue Reading »

If a company is trying to sell a product or service, it makes sense that they would want the purchase process to be easy. I’m not talking about just having the right product at a fair price. I’m talking about ensuring that as customers check out, they don’t have any problems, aren’t asked too many questions and can seamlessly make the purchase.

This goes for both a bricks and mortar store or a Web retailer. There are many ways it can be made difficult. Take my experience last week in helping someone to buy a United Airlines ticket from Cincinnati to the Bay Area of California.

Continue Reading »

These days, it’s cool to be going green. And there’s a good reason. If we want to sustain the world for our children, and our children’s children, we need to do things differently. Things like reducing waste, consuming less energy and reducing pollution.

All of these things are certainly do-able, though we have to make some sacrifices. These sacrifices, for the most part, aren’t large. The tough part is changing our habits.

plastic-bag-noGovernments have also been getting into the act by creating laws, particularly ones that encourage citizens to reduce waste. In this spirit, in November 2007, San Francisco banned plastic bags from being distributed by large supermarkets, with retail pharmacy chains being covered under the ban since May of 2008. In July of this year, residents of the rural town of Bundanoon voted to ban sales of bottled water in their community. And in Toronto, since June of this year, plastic bags can no longer be given out by any business for free – they cost 5 cents each.

Now, there are pros and cons to every approach. And with a law or not in place, I do my part to be as green as I can. I try to only have the lights on at home when I need them. I’m fortunate to be able to drive a hybrid car. And I use reusable bags for shopping whenever possible.

However, being in Toronto with my family for the last couple of weeks, I constantly forget about the new law. Though the law frustrates me, it’s not the intent – I believe if done the right way, this is a great thing. However, the way the money is handled and how far it reaches is something to think about. Knowing this, the question I have is, is this the right means to the end? Continue Reading »