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September 30, 2011

What a Canadian Brand Can Teach You About Customer Experience

2 minute read, in Marketing


This is the best customer experience idea I’ve seen in a while.

Maplelea Girls, a line of Canadian-themed dolls for girls is the (way better) Canadian version of American Girl. Their latest doll is Salia from Iqaluit the capital of Nunavat.

Beyond the dolls, Maplelea has a customer experience program that is sheer brilliance. It’s called the spa program and it goes like this. If misfortune befalls your Maplelea doll, you just send her to the spa:

  • Fill out a spa admission form and undress her
  • Ship her back to Maplelea
  • Pay a doll replacement fee (which includes shipping)
  • Get a brand new doll (that you paid for) sent to you dressed in a fluffy terry cloth robe and slippers
I’m guessing the reason that Maplelea adopted this clever service was to avoid parents having to tell their little girls (who dearly love their dolls) that their BFF needs to take a one way trip to the dumpster. Saying the doll’s simply getting a little bit of primping at the spa is so much easier. And it works for Maplelea who makes it easier for parents to purchase another doll.
I vividly remember when my daughter left her Elmo doll at the community centre. I couldn’t get a replacement fast enough. And of course I had to be very creative in explaining where Elmo had been for the past few days (he was at a casino in Aruba).
Think about how Maplelea’s customer service approach could be applied to other areas where people are either loathe to part with an object or hate the idea of paying a replacement fee. This spa approach would soften the blow if you needed to replace:
  • Your cracked iphone
  • Your broken sun glasses
  • Your bike

Just imagine how adorable your iphone would look snuggled up in a tiny bath robe?

On one level I’m of course jesting. But I’m very serious about the thinking behind this program.
When designing customer experience initiatives, ask yourself:
  • What do you know about your customers that could help them when they most need it?
  • What could you do to ease a problem your customers are having–even if it has nothing to do with the quality of your product?
  • How can you make something painful (like getting a replacement) more fun, interesting and engaging to engender greater customer  loyalty?
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