Exclusive: Mrs. Fields On What Matters Most When Serving Customers
“Gamechangers” within the customer experience space can take many forms. They can be organizations that use cutting-edge technology when serving customers. They can be businesses that employ creative best practices when developing contact center strategy.
Or, quite simply, they can be organizations that make meaningful, unforgettable connections with customers.
The notion of truly connecting with customers represents a priority for nearly all businesses. Few of those businesses, however, have successfully established those connections. Few have turned aspiration into reality.
An organization that has figured out the key to customer loyalty is therefore doing something undoubtedly desirable but exceedingly rare. It, without question, deserves to be called a gamechanger.
Mrs. Fields is one such gamechanger.
The baked goods organization prides itself on its rapport with customers, and Founder/Chief Cookie Lover Debbi Fields has spent decades actualizing the vision. She believes in her product, believes in her brand, and believes in a strong, long-term connection with her customers.
She will share her wisdom during the Gamechanger Keynote at this year’s CCW Winter in New Orleans, LA (January 17-20). In advance of her presentation, she joined us to discuss her visions for business, brands, and customer connections.
Part one of our interview follows:
Your brand is beloved by so many. It is famous for its quality, likability and customer service. But how did you get there? What factors did you prioritize *early on* in order to ensure the company you developed was a successful, customer-centric one?
Debbie Fields: Caring about customer service was a critical part of the recipe when I started Mrs. Fields. Why it was so important to me came from my personal experience as a customer. I had such limited financial resources that whenever I could afford to make a purchase, every purchase really mattered. And what mattered most in the end was how I was treated. That, alone, was the deciding factor as to whether I would ever return.
Upon starting Mrs. Fields, I wanted to build a great company with purpose. A purpose to make the best products that would consistently delight anyone who would take a bite and to sell it in a way that created joy for the recipient. I knew from the very start that I was sharing love and it came with every morsel of goodness I could generate.
To me, the greatest measure of success was never found in a cash register, but instead on the most important measure of all: a customer’s smile. My philosophy was simple, make the best product with the highest quality ingredients, serve it fresh, warm and hot, and deliver it with one pure intention: make the customer happy. We measured success in smiles. I knew in my heart that I clearly knew my purpose and why I created Mrs. Fields. A cookie was my extension of affirming love and happiness.
I also believed that we had to earn each dollar that we took in, which meant that we guaranteed quality and customer happiness. If we didn’t deliver, we didn’t deserve to be in business. There were no customer service manuals. The training was simple: make the best products and do what it takes to make your customers happy. Everyone in the organization was given the responsibility and the authority to ALWAYS DO WHAT WAS RIGHT.
What were some challenges you faced along the way? Were there any moments where you feared your brand was not "clicking" the way you hoped? How did you overcome any doubt or hurdles?
Just deciding to pursue my dream, packed with every limitation, was a daily challenge. I never had to be reminded that what I wanted to create was a ludicrous idea. Armed with zero experience, no money and endless hope, I never took a day or a moment of success for granted. I knew that luck and timing played a huge part, but in the end, I fought daily to make Mrs. Fields the best it could be and created the motto “good enough never is” which meant that I/we could never compromise or settle.
We created a company on purpose to stand for quality and service, and we had to honor our reason for existence -- with each cookie, with each customer, with each store, with each day. The good news is that we never lost sight of our values and we fought hard every day to make each moment better as we tackled all the hurdles that come naturally in life and in business. The key is to not stop but to learn how to overcome with resilience, knowledge and an optimistic attitude.
There is a "humanity" to your company, and it goes beyond the fact that your name is the brand name. Your company seems to sincerely connect with customers. Have you gone about fostering that connection - that "human touch," if you will? And why has that been so beneficial?
No business can exist without customers and I wanted my customers for LIFE. How that was fostered was, first and foremost, to develop a relationship by removing risk and being the first to nurture: I found customers by reaching out to them with a plate of fresh baked samples to tantalize their taste buds and allow them to fall in love. I called it “Try & Buy.”
If they liked what they tasted, I never had to hard-sell them to purchase. Not only did we put my guarantee and promise of delivering pure happiness on my bags, but we also developed our own secret shopper program by involving both our most loyal customers and those we had disappointed. They were our Cookie Ambassadors and our ground force. They did the recognizance and kept us informed on how we were doing.
Granted, I knew that neither I nor my company was infallible. We made mistakes, but the key was how we dealt with them. My intention was to create Cookie Amnesia: if a customer had a bad experience, our philosophy was to go overboard to fix the problem so they could only remember how much we loved them and how important they were to us/me.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Debbi. And make sure to join us at CCW Winter to attend her eagerly anticipated keynote.