Are You Creating Raving Fans?

by Jeremy Graves

 

It’s time to move beyond satisfying customers and start focusing on exciting customers. Excited customers drive growth. They create conversations about your company. They help tell the story of WHY others should be choosing your company. They will want to transact more often with you, spend their dollars with you and best of all, they will be compelled to promote you.

A key factor in delivering these great experiences is giving your employees the leeway to make a positive and memorable impression.  Allowing and encouraging staff to think of creative ways to wow your customers is critical.  They shouldn’t always be scripted or overly thought out as they might come across not as insincere. But when staff are emboldened to look for the opportunities to create a memorable moment and then told to go after it, amazing things will begin to happen.

People will talk. People will tweet. People will post stories on Facebook that reaches their friends and their friend’s friends. Your company is now part of a conversation that marketing dollars can’t buy and may generate more revenue than any marketing campaign could.

Here are a few quick customer experience stories to give you some food for thought as you consider what you want the experience to be for your next customer.

 

ZAPPOS
A customer’s mother had recently had some medical treatment that left her feet numb and sensitive to pressure – and also rendering most of her shoes totally useless. She ordered her mother six pairs of shoes from Zappos, hoping that at least one of them would work. After receiving the shoes, her mother called Zappos to get instructions on how to return the shoes that didn’t work, explaining why she was returning so many shoes. Two days later, she received a large bouquet of flowers from Zappos, wishing her well and hoping that she recovered from her treatments soon. Two days later, the customer, her mother and her sister were all upgraded to “Zappos VIP Members,” which gives them all free expedited shipping on all orders.

 

TRADER JOE’S
An 89-year-old grandfather got snowed in a several years ago and didn’t have much in the house for meals. His daughter called several markets in the area to see if any of them had grocery delivery services, but the only one that said they did was Trader Joe’s. They don’t, actually, but were willing to help out this WWII vet. As the man’s daughter placed an order, the Trader Joe’s representative on the phone recommended other items that would be good for her dad’s low-sodium diet. An up-sell, you may be asking? Nope. They didn’t charge her a dime for the delivery or the groceries.

 

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES
While these other stories have been nice, this one might actually make you teary (it made me teary, and I’m a hard sell). A man was en route from a business trip in L.A. to his daughter’s home in Denver to see his three-year-old grandson for the last time. The boy, beaten into a coma by his mother’s live-in boyfriend, was being taken off of life support at 9 p.m. that evening so his organs could be used to save other lives. The man’s wife called Southwest to arrange the last-minute flight and explained the emergency situation. Unfortunately, the man was held up by L.A. traffic and long lines at LAX and didn’t make it to the gate on time. When he finally made it there 12 minutes after the plane was scheduled to leave, he was shocked to find the pilot waiting for him. He thanked the pilot profusely, and the pilot said, “They can’t go anywhere without me, and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”[1]

 

As you read about these customer experiences, it might be time to think about your own business and ask yourself:

  • Are you filling your customer-facing positions with people who have the right attitude and the internal motivation for making customers feel special?  Are you trying to train these people to be happy and personable, or are you hiring happy and personable people?
  • Would your company’s approach to performance measurement have encouraged – or inhibited – the types of behavior demonstrated above?  Do you gauge employee performance largely by how many Internet subscribers added or do you also consider how many raving fans they create?
  • Do you give your front-line staff some latitude to exercise judgment and make independent decisions, especially when faced with unusual customer circumstances?

We have unique opportunities everyday to create customer loyalty. Are we finding them? If not, I you should.

Follow Jeremy Graves on Twitter


 

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