Evergreen Breakthrough on the Search for the Perfect Taco

Scott Porter has uncovered the secret to providing an extraordinary brand experience, and it’s not rocket science — but it is invaluable. In his presentation at Avalaunch Media Google Day 2020, he revealed this secret. Learn below how to create humanized experiences at every touchpoint and how caring about your customers can help you earn a raving customer fan base. 

I am so obsessed with tacos. I’ve been on a worldwide search for the perfect taco all of my adult life. I have a taco Instagram account. I’ve led taco tours to Mexico City for a long time, and I sometimes wonder if there’s a taco out there dreaming of me, too. I want to tell you a little bit about what this is all about for me. This is more than just insanely good tacos, even though that is reason enough to be talking about it. It’s more than that for me. Tacos are about real human connection. What I’ve noticed in all of my taco-eating experience is that there are remarkable things that happen, micro-interactions that create amazingly fierce loyalty.

The Impact of Micro-Interactions

One of my favorite taco places in East LA is El Pecas. It’s amazing. I lived in LA 10 years before I moved here. It had been about six months, and I hadn’t been to this particular taco truck, which I now know was a tragedy. So I went here and I stepped out in front of that door right there to place my order. Ernesto greets me and says, “Scott, where have you been for the past six months? Do you want your al pastor tacos the same way you always liked them? Extra-crispy meat with extra pineapple?” And I’m thinking to myself, “How did this just happen?” 

What did you notice that was amazing about that micro-interaction? What are some things that made this an extraordinary brand? He knew my name. He knew and remembered what I liked. He personalized the experience. This is the second-largest city in America. Yet, thousands and thousands and thousands of tacos later, I walk up and he remembers me. Now here’s something that’s extra special about this experience: Ernesto’s not the owner. What does that tell you about their culture? What does that tell you about El Pecas? They love what they do. They love the people, and the owner is focused on building relationships. He wants people on his team that are creating evergreen relationships that will last forever. 

I’m going to share a recent experience that I had in Mexico City. A couple of months ago, they had the first-ever national taco festival in Mexico City. You’re thinking, “How has this not happened ever before?” The most amazing day of all time. I got to go and it was like I was living my best life for a 24-hour period with 50 of the best taco places in all of Mexico in one single location. I had an experience that is galvanized on my soul about something that happened there. They made me feel like part of the family. They took an interest in me. We took a picture together. This is the warmth of the Mexican culture and the magic of the taco experience. All of a sudden, it became something personal. 

How do you get every one of your team members on board with delivering on this exceptional experience? How do you create something that builds memories and lasts and lasts a lifetime — something that’s evergreen? Imagine if all of us, in whatever area of influence we have in businesses, cared this much about creating an exceptional experience. What a difference we could make in people’s lives! We live in a world where like anxiety, depression, and unfortunately, even suicide rates are the highest we’ve ever seen, and who knows what’s going to come as a result of the self-quarantining and social distancing that’s happening? We are going to be longing for real human connection. We already are, and it’s going to be dialed up with what’s happening with the Coronavirus even more so. So when you’re thinking about evergreen content, let’s zoom out and think about architecting your entire brand experience at every touchpoint. 

The Importance of a Humanized Experience at Every Touch Point

We’ve talked a lot about digital touch points, but do all of your digital touch points aim towards this extraordinary humanized experience? 

I’ve run a couple of nursing homes. I started an airline and I run a churro business. When I first started in the nursing home business, I became obsessed about how to create an extraordinary humanized brand experience and studied what some of these other titans have done in creating these types of experiences that build loyalty. How many grocery stores do you guys pass by between your house and Trader Joe’s? A lot. So why do you continue to go to trader Joe’s? It’s because they have created an experience that makes us want to share it. 

Let me tell you a little bit about my experience at Trader Joe’s. As I lead into this, 70% of us buy based on how we feel about a brand. So as you are looking at creating all of this evergreen content, what are you doing to architect the feelings that all of your stakeholders have? What are you doing to create a positive experience? This is the year where customer experience overtakes price and product as a key brand differentiator. We’ve moved out of a transactional economy and we’re in a relationship, based experience-based economy. What are we doing to create these types of experiences people are talking about?

Trader Joe’s: Exemplary in Creating Brand Experiences

I have one or two quick examples from Trader Joe’s. I went to Trader Joe’s in Salt Lake. I was looking down the aisle and I saw these like coconut crispies. Alex, who is next to me stocking the shelves, says, “Hey, have you tried those before?” I responded that I hadn’t and he said “Open them up and give them a try.” So I try them and I think they would be great on my Greek yogurt every morning, so I pick up a couple of cases. As I’m going to pay for them, the manager passes me and he whispers over to Alex and says, “Hey Alex, one of our customers has a flat tire. Can you help her change her flat tire?” So he puts his stuff down and he goes out and changes her flat tire. I was amazed. So I follow Alex out to the parking lot. I want to see what this is all about. I find Alex, and he had a big ol’ smile on his face as he was changing her tire. I asked him, “Why are you doing this? This isn’t a part of your job description.” He says, “Oh, this is just what we do at Trader Joe’s.”

What does this tell you about Trader Joe’s? They have a culture of service. This is probably not in his job description. So when you are looking at architecting your brand experience and creating memories with everything that you do, how do you make sure that your values are reinforced by everyone at every level on a continual basis? 

Followup story. So I tell this story at a conference like this and Emily comes up to me and she says, “Hey, you’re never going to believe what happened to me at Trader Joe’s.” Okay, try me. She said, “So my husband and I were at the cashier and the cashier asked how our day was. We were honest and told them we had just bought a car. So the cashier reaches behind them, grabs a bouquet of flowers, and says congratulations, giving us the bouquet of flowers.”

Trader Joe’s has empowered its employees to do that. There was no, “Let me go ask my manager. I really want to give you flowers, but I have to clear that.” No, what did Emily do? She just happens to be a micro-influencer, so she posted about her flowers. How many followers does Emily have? How much does Trader Joe’s pay for that type of publicity? She just spent $35,000 and got free followers from Trader Joe’s.

How to Create Relationships With Customers

As you’re looking at creating, you’re building relationships. This is our new economy. How do we create these relationships? Weeks later I was scrolling in my email or my Facebook and I see that a friend of mine posted about her father passing away. She mentioned that to the cashier, so the cashier runs out and gives her flowers. Does this happen all the time? I don’t know. But it happens when there is an empowered culture to create amazing experiences. Now this doesn’t have to be something that happens in person. In our churro business, we cater for weddings and parties. 

Our events manager received an email that said, “Hi Camille. I’m no longer getting married and in need of your services. Thank you.” Camille responds, “Hi Lauren. I’m so sorry. I’ve had two engagements, and I know it’s not all roses. No matter the circumstances, I hope you’re doing well and feeling hopeful about your bright future. Come get a churro on the house next time you see us. Tell them Camille sent you.” Lauren responds, “Thank you Camille. I will forever be a customer of San Diablo Churros.”

If you’re thinking, “Gosh, that’s really nice of Trader Joe’s,” what’s happening? These people are about more than just a business transaction. They care. I never told Camille what to say and do if anyone cancels their wedding. If people know your mission, your values, and what type of experiences you provide, you will create raving fans. 

As you’re looking at architecting a type of experience that would be evergreen content for the rest of your business existence — experiences that will outlive you — these are the types of questions that I’d like all of us to contemplate: 

  • Is your team empowered to bring your mission to life? 
  • Have you intentionally designed an overarching, consistent and human experience at every touch point? Is it congruent? 
  • What makes your brand experience so different that it builds lasting relationships and creates fiercely loyal evangelists?

Customers Who Feel Cared About Spend More

I want to end with one other story. There are some hard business results that come when we create meaningful human experiences. When we create a positive customer experience, we can expect our customers to spend 140% more. Your revenues go up, costs go down, loyalty skyrockets, and so does happiness. That’s what this is really all about — making a lasting impact as business leaders and as brand stewards in our areas of influence. How can we connect and embrace the new economy that we are all a part of and connect with people on meaningful levels, human levels? 

My father suffered a stroke over a year ago and is currently living in a nursing home. Now I’m on the other end of that experience. I was running a nursing home for about four and a half years, and now I’m on the other end as a family member. I can tell you that I just want them to care. They’re going to make mistakes. I know this business and how tough it is, but I don’t care if they make mistakes as long as they care. 

As we embark in business and in life, that’s the thing that I would like to leave with you. I hope we are all intentionally creating a culture of care to humanize our brand experiences. Thank you very much.

Presented by Scott Porter