All posts tagged Godin

  • Effective Tribe Management: 200 Nipples

    200 Nipples is an online t-shirt store with a twist:

    That’s how many nipples we assume will be covered by any single run of our high-quality shirts. (We’ll have the third-nippled buyer in there occasionally, but we didn’t want to count on it when naming the company; this is serious business, after all.) 

    One hundred shirts per month, individually numbered. Shirt prices range from US$1 to US$100 inclusive. First in, best dressed.

    I’ve had my eye on them for a few months, since they were mentioned on Seth‘s blog. Funnily enough, I can’t find the post where he initially linked to them.

    I received notification this morning, Brisbane time, that a new shirt was due to go onsale later that afternoon. I set a reminder in my calendar and went about my business for the rest of the day.

    At 4pm, I logged onto the site and found that their 100-item cart showed that no shirts had been bought. Weird. I proceeded to checkout and received order confirmation of my longsleeve shirt, which cost US$11 including postage. Sweet.

    Except that their shopping cart and database broke, and 76 users thought they’d snapped up shirts for a dollar or two. Whoops.

    This potentially painful ordeal was handled brilliantly by Wade, 200 Nipples’ founder. He replaced the storefront with a temporary ‘out of order’ page and kept hundreds of repeatedly-refreshing users in the loop by updating two blog posts.

    A couple of dozen users chatted amongst ourselves in the comments sections until Wade initiated a ‘do over’at 4.30pm. Best of all, Wade defused the fiscal situation by creating and publishing a 33%-off coupon, which was valid for an hour. 

    Shirts 1-30 were snapped up in minutes, but I snagged #11 for US$11.


    This year, Seth’s all about tribes. He posits – bolding mine:

    Tribe management is a whole different way of looking at the world.

    It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn’t an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.

    It adds to that the fact that what people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about.

    At a guess, Wade’s tribe numbers in the low hundreds right now. His tribe was brought closer together today, by sharing a disruptive experience that was elegantly and openly managed. 

    We ended up taking a $150+ hit on the coupon code, but that’s OK. Above all else, we always want to deliver a good experience to you, the users of the site. The overwhelming majority of our customers were very cool about it. Thanks so much for your understanding.

    Perfect. This is the kind of experience that gives Wade’s tribe a story to tell and something to talk about. You can bet I’m going to tell this story to everyone who asks about my long-sleeved shirt.. which mightn’t be worn for months, since it’s almost summertime in Australia.


    Tribes is a great concept and a book that I look forward to reading. 200 Nipples is an example of gathering a tribe around a niche concept – attractive, limited, (potentially) cheap shirts – and today, a great example of masterful tribe management.

  • Customer, Serviced #1

    Where?: Australia Post Office, 448 Boundary Street, Spring Hill QLD 4004, Australia.

    When?: May 6 2008, 12pm

    Who?: Female salesclerk (name to be confirmed)

    What?: I made the mistake of visiting the store during the lunchtime rush. The line was fifteen people-deep; the automatic door stayed open due to people standing under the sensor. I’d been uncharacteristically caught without phone credit, and as I was attending a show with a friend that night, I had to recharge to reply to his logistical query.

    Cue fifteen solid minutes of queuing. I silently lamented my lack of foresight to bring reading material, though I hadn’t anticipated the store to be this busy. I passed my eyes across crappy pink stationary a dozen times, and attempted – along with everyone else in the store – to block out the moronic blonde yapping on her phone. “Anyway, I’ve gotta go, everyone in the store can hear me, haha.” No shit.

    By the time I’m served, I’m understandably a little annoyed. I’m a patient dude, but I’d found Australia Post’s customer service to be rather lacking up until this point. It was as if they’d scheduled their employees’ lunch breaks at the same time every other worker in the suburb was on their half-hour, and attempting to post mail – or buy credit.

    I gave a cursory “g’day” to the female salesclerk and requested my service. She complied silently for a moment, before asking – apropos of nothing – how my weekend was. I was taken aback, as the tone in which she asked the question conveyed that she would actually give a shit about my response.

    I responded that I’d had a great weekend; I spent Saturday with my parents and brother, and we all went to a concert together. Though, I neglected to mention a largely unfavourable event I attended on Sunday.

    She enquired about which band we saw – she didn’t know them – then told me that she was glad that I’d enjoyed my weekend. I politely enquired about hers, and she related some brief details about spending time with her kids.

    This exchange took place while she scanned the bPay barcode and waited for the system to produce a serial number for me to enter into Optus’ prepaid system. The line was still fifteen-deep behind me as we shared a friendly moment together within earshot of every other customer.

    What’s remarkable about this customer service experience is that the salesclerk turned an unhappy, impatient person into a happy, smiling customer purely by ignoring the outside noise – fifteen equally unhappy, impatient customers – and listening. In an edgeconomy, listen + respect x trust = loyalty and partnership.

    Yes, this was just one salesclerk putting themselves second and the customer first. I’ll admit, it’s a step to extrapolate one man purchasing phone credit at a corner post office to an entire economic model.

    But – imagine if every customer was treated with equal respect. Imagine if every customer was listened to. Imagine if every solution was customised to fit each individual need. That’s the future we’re aiming for. If we’re not, we should be.

    “The goal of every single interaction should be to upgrade the brand’s value in the eye of the caller and to learn something about how to do better, not to get the caller to just go away.” – Seth Godin discussing telephone customer service, but his message is equally applicable in any related situation.

    Result?: I left the store with a smile on my face. Genuinely nice people are difficult to find – I don’t claim to be one, either – which is why it’s disarming and refreshing to encounter them.