My current criterion for judging someone’s hipness, taste and sense of humor is whether they’re a fan of The Fabulous Beekman Boys, a high-class reality TV show now in its second year on the Planet Green network. This highly entertaining show chronicles the adventures of “city boys” Brent Ridge, an MD and former executive with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and his partner Josh Kilmer-Purcell, a Manhattan-based advertising executive, as they renovate and try to make a living from their recently-purchased, 209-year-old Beekman estate and farm in upstate New York.
Their company, Beekman 1802 (1802 being the year the estate was founded), sells a variety of interesting products–many of which are produced at the farm–such as goat milk-based soaps and candles, as well as unique foods and decorative items. This past Sunday evening, I ordered several items from their website as Mother’s Day presents for my wife, who’s a huge fan and who–along with our daughter–had met Josh and Brent during a recent appearance on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. About an hour after placing my order, I decided to order a few more things. As I did, in the “special requests” section I asked that they combine these items with the ones I’d previously ordered so as not to incur a second shipping charge.
Amazingly, about an hour later–on a Sunday evening, no less–I received an email from Maria Vought, the company’s Director of Resources, explaining that she’d be happy to help me if I would call her on Monday. Then, at 5:41 Monday morning, I received another email from Maria saying she’d gone into work early and had already taken care of everything. She added, “I just wanted to write to you to let you know that it wasn’t necessary to call me today as I’m sure Mondays are busy for you.”
It gets better. After I read Maria’s email, I immediately went on the Beekman 1802 website to leave a message complimenting them on the wonderful customer service Maria had provided. Within 30 minutes, I received a response–from Brent. He thanked me for both the business and the compliment, and added a classic line: “Maria is pure awesomeness.” This didn’t really surprise me; over the prior few months both Brent and Josh had responded to other messages my wife I had had left on their website.
Smart companies find a way to make you feel like you know them not as an impersonal, faceless entity, but as a collection of individuals who care deeply about you as a customer and as a person. Beekman 1802 had already made me feel like I have a connection with Brent and Josh, and now I have a connection with Maria as well. As the company grows and achieves the mass market success for which they seem destined, it’s going to be increasingly challenging for them to maintain the personal connection they have with their customers today.
But if anyone can find a way to to this, it’s Brent and Josh.
And Maria, of course.