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July 2009

The Forgotten Garden

Here's a good story to add to your Summer reading list: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.
It's the thoroughly engrossing story of a small child who is seemingly abandoned by her family at age 4, and spends a lifetime trying to reconstruct her personal history.

The mystery unravels across continents (England, Australia), decades, and generations of descendants who piece together clues from old scrapbooks, old friends, and some good old-fashioned sleuthing.

A lively, twisting plot keeps you turning the pages to the end, with the chapters rotating between the perspective of the small child who has grown up, her doting granddaughter, and the chapters of a book of children's fairy tales that hold the secret to her past.

The book itself is like a fairy tale, and is reminiscent of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, which was one of my favorite books as a child.

Kate Morton is a fantastic storyteller; you'll feel transported between 1913 London, 1975 Brisbane, and present-day Cornwall - with detailed, period characters and landscapes all along the way.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Altria Books division of Simon & Schuster as part of their promotional outreach, but that has not colored my review of the book - I really enjoyed it.

Kickass Customer Service

Online retailer Shopbop is the latest to impress me with some kickass customer service.

It all stemmed from an unfortunate incident last weekend involving a wedding, a new party dress donned for the first time, and a faulty zipper that decided to let go upon arrival at the church. While I still had the tags, they were no longer attached and 30 days had passed since I purchased the dress...thereby breaking the rules of Shopbop's return policy.

Nonetheless, I emailed them to express my dismay and this is the prompt reply I received:


Yay Shopbop!

Over the years I've saved similar examples of kickass customer service (I'm in marketing, after all) and have finally posted them all here. They are mainly from retailers who assisted me while shopping (I'm known to do that) but one is a recent, unexpected note from Herb Chambers, after I took my car in for service.

There are other notes which I've neglected to save - like one from shoe retailer Zappos, who upgraded me to free, next-day shipping just for being a loyal customer (I love Zappos...and they're doing a great job interacting with consumers on Twitter).

But even with all the new media channels available to brands for engaging with their customers, sometimes an old-fashioned, hand-written note is the most powerful brand impression of all.