Accounting Can’t Control Customer Experiences

Accounting Can't Control Customer Experiences

Here’s one for you today. Are your customer experiences being controlled by the accounting department?

I don’t have a beef with accountants. By large they are lovely people.

But if your customer experience and marketing is controlled by what costs a nickel less, are you sure that’s a good idea?

Here’s what I mean by this.

Any Moron Can Decorate A Shirt

It’s not that hard.

Sure, some people do an exceptional job. Maybe that’s you.

(And by a moron, of course, I’m talking about your competition)

But do you think anyone is walking around the mall going, “Hey check this out…Dude, they totally nailed the registration on this shirt! Perfect PMS color match too!”

Not really.

It’s only the decorators that suffer from the disease of feeling every print like it’s going to magically communicate some hidden braille message about quality to us with our fingertips.

I’m not railing against injecting quality into what you do. That’s not my point.

Your customers don’t remember that stuff.

They certainly always remember the last crappy thing that happened to them when dealing with your company.

How did you make them feel when they opened up that box of shirts?

Did Angels Sing?

How was that customer experience?

Was the box neat and crisp? Maybe branded with either your shop’s logo or your customers?

The epitome of perfection?

What you want is when the top box flaps are peeled back and the customer sees what’s inside for the first time, an instant smile blooms on their face.

Was the decoration visible, or did your crew box them upside down? Were they neatly organized, with a packing list enclosed?

On time?

If the order was for a group, was each person or size clearly identified so nobody had to do that step?

Did you include any extra fun items in the box? Maybe their logo is sewn on a few hats that match the order or a fleece jacket for the person who placed the order?

Sure, they didn’t ask for it.

And yes, it’s a cost.

But what do you think your customer would say?

What is the lifetime value of one of your customers anyway? Stop thinking transactional, and start thinking long term.

Customer Experiences Are About Emotions

Robots aren’t buying stuff from you. People are.

And people want to be cared for and catered to with unique experiences. How much surprise and delight are you shipping every day?

The truth is that I don’t know you. I don’t know your customers either.

But I’ll bet they like fun surprises.

The unexpected.

That something that made them smile.

Example: Great Customer Experience

For ThreadX19 the keynote speaker is Aaron Draplin, who is a design hero for tons of people including me. I love his no-nonsense approach and design aesthetic.

He’s a rockstar in the design world.

One of his ideas he’s developed over the years is his set of Field Notes journals. Good stuff, but I never thought about ordering them. That is until the SGIA Expo this past fall when I noticed that some of the sales reps I was talking to were jotting notes and ideas down in little pocket-sized notebooks.


Why carry around a big padfolio, when I can scribble notes and phone numbers in something I can fit into my pocket?

Then I remembered Field Notes and decided to subscribe to a year’s worth of notebooks and try them out. I’m using them and they are great.

But here’s the surprise.

Unannounced in the mail was a new set of Field Notes called “Clandestine” and with it was a super secret code FNC-41E “Cipher Wheel”. I felt like I was eight years old again. It was awesome, and it came with a pocket-sized 2019 calendar and a pencil.


Sure, it cost them money. I absolutely didn’t order it.

But that feeling that they want me to have fun with their product is exactly why they have such a huge fanbase.

That’s right.


Treat People Better

That box of embroidered polos or printed t-shirts you are shipping today is not going to some anonymous person somewhere.

It’s a real human being. One that wants to be appreciated.

Can you imagine the impact that focusing on experience could have on your customer base?

What if instead of customers, you had fans? (Like Field Notes)

Who raved about receiving something from you and posted pictures and videos featuring your work on social media? How many of your current customers actually send you new customers?

“Hey, I gotta shop you should use. Call this number and they will take care of you.” Probably the best phrase ever uttered in the decorated apparel industry.

When you treat people better, good things happen.

Your customer experience matters.

Elevating Your Customer Experience

Ok, so that’s all fine and good but what you are you going to do about it?

To me, here are a few things you should think about before you get a headache trying to think up some ideas:

First, It Has To Be A Surprise

What makes it special is that it is unexpected. In New Orleans and around those parts they call that Lagniappe. It’s that something extra that makes the experience unique.

Surprise is a great tool to use.

The more unique the better. You want an attention getter. Who would have thought of a “Cipher Wheel” would have made such an impact? Now, that expense of sending me a small packet of stuff has netted them a lifetime customer and a blog article about the company to boot.

How does that reconcile with the accounting team?

Sometimes you do it anyway.

Second, It Has To Be You

Sure, that Cipher Wheel is a great toy and gimmick, but I’m not sending them out for my personal business. It doesn’t make sense.

How would you describe your company?

Youthful and fun?

Professional and experienced?

Cute and nice?


When your customer gets that order from you what do you want them to think?

Like on Family Feud…survey says the number one answer is: “These guys get me! I love what they do!”

You want that alignment from the company to the customer to resonate and be true.

Yes, I’m sure to some that Cipher Wheel idea looks stupid and childish, but to designer geeks and people in the maker community, it was incredibly awesome to receive. I think I talked about it for three straight days.

What can you send to your customers to convert them into fans and have the same reaction?

Third, It Has To Provoke a WOW!

That’s what you want.


If the recipients first thought isn’t, “Where’s my phone I need to share this!”, then you need to probably do something else.

Hey, if your accounting team is still pouty about it you can try it with a limited number of customers and gauge their reactions.

If it’s crickets, then you can try something else.

When it goes viral, keep doing whatever that is.

Watch this video that Roger Burnett shared at Shirt Lab Columbus. This is the reaction you want from your fans.

If you aren’t smiling at this reaction, call someone to check your pulse.

What kind of WOW! can you pull off?

Last Thought on Customer Experience

No accountants were harmed in the writing of this article.



“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” – Maya Angelou

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos

“So I think instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.” – Scott Cook




Hey, thanks for reading and actually getting this far down the page. If you’ve made it this far, perhaps you’d like something from me?

I have a few eBooks on my webpage that I know can help your shop. But they won’t work unless you download them and start using them.

So, while I can’t give them away for free, I’m happy to set you up with a fat discount.

Any of the eBooks, 50% off. Sssshhh! It’s our secret. Don’t tell the accountant.

Just type Lagniappe50 and use it as the coupon code. It only works for the eBooks.

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