Archive for January, 2010

Garden ups and downs

Much has occurred in my attempt at a Japanese garden in the months since I last wrote about it.  I’m sure you’ve been wondering.

Fall was beautiful.

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The Thunderhead Pine survived my hack job earlier in the year and might be starting to look like something.  In 30 years or so, it could be great.

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Winter had its good points as well, with several camellias and Winter Daphne (smells amazing).

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Then, disaster struck!  For years, my girls (the three of them older than two years) have been begging for a trampoline.  But what little back yard we have is occupied by the garden, much to their annoyance.  They would prefer to have a “normal” yard.  Anyway, a few months ago, their jump rope teammate announced that she would be moving, and that her family’s beloved trampoline could not come to the new house.  The family very generously offered to give us the coveted item (really a very nice gesture).  So, Santa brought Ruination to the garden.

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The girls, their Dad (admittedly) and Mom, and their friends have had a great time on the tramp.  But I think it is safe to say that it doesn’t add much Kyoto ambiance.  It is of Asian origin, at least.  I have yet to derive a clever bamboo camouflaging structure, so I’m open to ideas.

The latest threat is cold.  We’ve had some warm weather recently, and as I drove up the driveway today, I noticed the Japanese flowering apricot starting to bloom.  Beautiful, and wonderfully fragrant…

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But alas!  As I write this, snow is falling outside, and we’re expecting 10”, along with 16 degree weather.  This same thing happened last year:  premature flowering of three different new plants that I’d been eagerly awaiting, immediately intercepted and extinguished by a cold snap.  This year, I wrapped them in sheets or plastic.  I hope it works.

Update
Five inches of snow so far.  Things look lovely.  The flowers on the weeping apricot might be OK, but my engineering was flawed.

That’s an eight-foot tree lying on the ground.  Fortunately, it is young and pliable.  I shook the snow off the plastic, and it sprung up to something akin to its previous state.  Since Japanese garden aesthetic favors trees that look like they’ve clung to windswept cliffs for 100 years, I might be in luck.

Domino’s delivers branded experience

I talk and write frequently about achieving brand intent through customer touch points.  In fact, I just submitted a book chapter on this topic, which I hope you’ll see in a few months.  Domino’s online ordering app is an example of doing it right.

I imagine their brand intent includes associations like Yummy, Fast, Responsive, and Accurate.

I recently went to the Web to look for the phone number for my local Domino’s as this was the vendor of choice for my 14 year old.  I then remembered that I could place a Cyber Order and skip both the phone call and the figuring out which of five local stores serves my neighborhood.

I went to the Online Coupons section and found a deal that sounded Yummy – Fiery Hawaiian pizza.  It was very Fast to get through the ordering options, and each choice had a Yummy picture.  I noted the time on the clock prominently featured on the website (confidence).  Once I placed the order though, I got some browser error.  So I called the store (number provided on the site) and was able to confirm quickly that my order had indeed been received: very Responsive.

Upon restarting my browser, I found this cool order tracking screen, which showed in colors that my order had been prepped and was baking.  Mmmm, I could just smell it.  I could even see the name of the guy who made the ‘za.  Scrolling down, I confirmed that the order was Accurate, and noted Domino’s well-conceived request for feedback.  I then noticed the Connect 4 option (below left in the picture), one of my favorite games!

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I clicked on it and played what I think is a Wii version of Connect 4 (I won).  Finishing the quick game, I noticed the progress bar had completed, and my pizza was en route, in the capable hands of Jerricca.

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A few minutes later, I went downstairs and looked out the front door window, and found Jerricca herself about to ring our doorbell.  She received a good tip, and my family and I enjoyed a Yummy dinner, acquired Fast, Responsively, and Accurately.  They exceeded my expectations at every point, and even added Fun to their brand associations.

Well done, and thanks!

Update:

After this good experience, which I related to several friends (word of mouth advocacy: priceless), I noticed a TV spot for Domino’s.  It showed video from focus groups or customer interview research, with people expressing criticism for Domino’s (e.g., “rubbery”).  It then cut to recipe work that had been done to address the issue, and then to the food scientists (food service industry people who develop recipes) visiting the same person at home, with the new and improved pizza.  A Wow moment ensues.

I remember several occasions sitting on the other side of two-way glass, listening to people’s wishes or complaints, thinking “you know, we should address that, and bring the solution back to this same person and film their reaction.”  But I never did it!  Domino’s apparently did.  I might have disbelieved the story represented in the ad, but my online ordering experience earned credibility.

Authenticity, responsiveness, transparency.  Again, well done.