Church of the Customer: Customer evangelism archives
May 20, 2013
The best customer service is invisible
I am huge fan of Nordstrom. They have famed customer service and that is one of the reasons why I shop there. But even I was surprised by this.
Last week I was shopping at Nordstrom and bought merchadise at a few departments. The strip on my Nordstrom VISA card had apparently stopped working because each cashier had trouble swiping the card and had to resort to typing in the numbers into the register. I made an offhand comment to one of the cashieres that I would have to call in to the card customer service later and request a new card.
Of course that became just one more thing on my to-do list and I didn't call in. To my surprise, I opened my mail on Saturday and there was a brand new shiny silver Nordstrom VISA card. Apparently one of the cashiers took it upon themselves to order a new one for me. Awesome.
I didn't ask for a new card but one of the cashiers took the initiative to delight this customer. And that is customer service worth talking about.
April 18, 2013
How to think like a rock star
Mack Collier is a social media strategist, trainer, and speaker who specializes in helping companies better connect with their customers and cultivate fans for their brands. His brand new book, "Think Like a Rock Star," examines the marketing and social media strategies of actual rock stars like Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, Jewel, Amanda Palmer and others and shares how any company can learn from them to create emotional connections with customers. Here's a Q&A I did with Mack about the book:
Q. What does it mean to '"Think Like a Rock Star?"
A. If you look at any number of studies and surveys designed to assess the top marketing goals for most companies, 'Acquire New Customers' is usually the top priority. This is where most companies spend the majority of their marketing dollars, and expanding the customer base is what they focus most of their efforts on.
The difference with rock stars is that they focus on connecting with their fans. And not just their fans, but they purposely seek out their biggest and most passionate fans, and look for ways to create amazing experiences for them, and to create deeper connections with them. Of course you know this from studying how Lady Gaga has created a special bond with her Little Monsters (I have already pre-ordered Monster Loyalty, can't wait to read it!).
The rock stars' approach is so interesting because they are connecting with their biggest fan with the understanding that those fans will acquire new customers for them. They aren't spending millions on crappy marketing designed to get the attention of people (new customers) that have little to no affinity for them. Instead rock stars understand that their ability to acquire new customers tomorrow depends on how they delight their existing fans today.
Q. What was the biggest surprise in writing this book?
A. Really the main reason why I wanted to write this book was to learn how rock stars can so easily create and cultivate fans, so that companies could then apply that same process, and more easily cultivate fans themselves. I assumed there was some "secret sauce" and a "trick" that rock stars did that simply made it easier for them to cultivate fans.
Instead, I learned that rock stars relentless communicate two very important messages to their fans: 1 - "I appreciate you" 2 - "I love you". That's it. And as a result, their biggest fans appreciate them and love them right back. Rock stars also thrive off connecting with their most passionate customers, whereas most companies want to keep their customers at arm's length. Rock stars look for ways to embrace their fans, and that makes it much easier for their fans to trust them, which makes it easier for their fans to advocate on the rock star's behalf.
Q. And that makes it easier for fans to buy from that rock star right?
A. Exactly. I think most companies strive to have a transactional relationship with their customers. They want to create a product, and sell it to their customers. That's it. I think most rock stars want to have an emotional relationship with their fans. As Kathy Sierra said in the foreword of the book, rock stars want to make their fans better. They honestly do love their fans, and they want that emotional relationship with their fans, because they understand that it will lead to sales. Rock stars understand that customers buy from brands that they love and trust. And they tell others to buy from that brand as well. It doesn't matter if that brand is a company or a rock star.
Rock stars have always understand the value of connecting directly with their customers, whereas thanks to new social media tools, companies are having to learn these lessons the hard way. The future of successful marketing lies with the companies that learn to speak in the same voice as their customer. Think Like a Rock Star was written to help companies get to that place where they not only understand their customers, but actually cultivate fans that love them.Tweet
April 12, 2013
What do you have #monsterloyalty for?
I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born near Pittsburgh and watched them win 4 four Super Bowls as I was growing up in the '70's. I run the Steelers fan club here in Austin. I own six Terrible Towels and went to the Super Bowl in 2011 to see the Steelers play. When I was considering getting a tattoo -- almost all Austin, Texas residents have one -- I knew getting the Steelers logo was a safe bet because I knew I would love them for life.
I am a Steelers "One Percenter," one of the die-hard super fans that make up about 1% of a customer base. This One Percenter concept is based on research from my previous book, Citizen Marketers. My coauthor and I discovered that the most highly engaged particpants in a community make up a tiny percentage of the overall customer base but are vocal passionate evangelists who bring new customers into the fold through word of mouth.
In my upcoming book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics, I discuss how Lady Gaga has built a following numbering in the millions worldwide but focuses most of her efforts on engaging her One Percenters, her "Little Monsters." In my four years of research, I've been amazed at the depth of "monster loyalty" that these fans show for Gaga.
In consulting with companies over the years, I find that many companies and brands don't know who their One Percenters are, or even if they have any. So let's find out how much monster loyalty is out there for products and brands.
What product/company/brand/non-profit do YOU have monster loyalty for? What is the craziest thing you have ever done to show your love for a brand? Maybe not a tattoo but I would love to hear about how much you love this product or brand and have you share your loyalty for the world to see.
Share your story in a blog post, upload an Instagram picture, or write a tweet about your fanaticism for a brand/product/company and tag it #monsterloyalty. The amazing folks at FeedMagnet are aggregating all of the social content based on the #monsterloyalty hashtag for all to see. Check it out here!Tweet
March 28, 2013
Changing the world, one Gaga at a time
It's Lady Gaga's 27th birthday today. Her passionately loyal, worldwide fan base is sending her birthday wishes today but also sharing how she has changed their world for the better, through her music and actions. Her message of kindness, acceptance and tolerance is making a difference. Skeptical? Watch this video from Indonesian Little Monsters.
Happy birthday Mother Monster. Paws up!Tweet
February 17, 2013
Maker's Mark listens to customers, reverses course on diluting bourbon
Almost one week ago, Bill Samuels Jr., son of the founder of Marker's Mark bourbon, told customers he had made a giant mistake. He failed to forsee a worldwide surge in demand for premium bourbon when he was in charge of the brand six years ago. He said, as a result, Maker's Mark was going to be diluted to 42 percent alcohol by volume, from 45 percent, so more of the whiskey can be bottled to meet demand. That's a cut from 90 proof to 84 proof. He embarrassly admitted, "I was the forecaster in chief around here. ... I must have been asleep at the wheel.” He, and his son Rob, the CEO of Marker's Mark, assured customers that they wouldn't notice the change. Even Maker's Mark professional taste testers couldn't tell the difference, Rob Samuels said.
However, customers were pissed. Comments like this one began pouring in on the company's Facebook page:
"so now you're saying no will notice because you ASSUME your customers use [Maker's Mark] in mixed drinks instead of neat??? wow not only are you cheapening your product you are insulting your customers...count me out, time to try some other bourbons who still value quality"
After a week of listening to customers' negative comments about the change on their social media sites and through email, Maker's Mark management changed course. Today Rob and Bill Samuels told fans in a letter on their website and Facebook page:
We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.
You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.
So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning.
Read the entire letter here.
Every company makes mistakes. The way Makers Mark's handled this situation -- by listening to customers concerns and quickly changing course -- is a model for other companies to follow. With their Ambassadors program, Maker's Mark has long been a company that understands loyalty. Today they showed that that loyalty goes both ways.Tweet
October 08, 2012
My new book: Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics
I want to tell you about a new project I have been working on.
After coauthoring two books on customer loyalty, I have decided to write another one, this time as a solo effort and from an angle that you wouldn’t expect.
The new book is called Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics.
Why Lady Gaga? Because she is quite frankly one of the best loyalty marketers I have ever seen.
I first wrote about this topic in February 2010 for this blog with a post entitled “Loyalty Lessons from Lady Gaga.” It was the most retweeted and passed-along post I had ever written in my seven years of blogging. When celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton retweeted it, I realized that I was onto something.
I began adding Gaga as a case study in my keynote speaking and got a terrific response from my audiences. People told me that they did not realize all of things she was doing to engage fans and that learning about her as a person and what she has accomplished helps them think about their own customers in a different way.
I was intrigued by the fact that some of the largest consumer companies in the world, like Coca-Cola, are benchmarking Gaga's engagement with fans and are bringing her manager, Troy Carter, to their companies to speak with their about her strategies.
After I became well versed in Gaga’s fan loyalty, BBC Radio in London interviewed me about her marketing abilities when her third album, Born This Way was released in May 2011. It was then that the idea for the book was born as well. I call it Monster Loyalty, because I want to detail how to create “Little Monster”-like loyalty (“Little Monsters” is the name that Gaga has given her fans). And I want to encourage readers to create "monster loyalty" of their own.
I've been working on this book since I left Ant's Eye View in September 2011. I am excited to announce that we are doing a limited release of the book at the WOMMA Summit on November 12 where I will be doing a keynote. Full release of the book will be May 2, 2013. It is available for pre-order now.Tweet Tweet
May 13, 2011
Two new In-N-Out Burgers just opened in the Dallas area and the burger faithful came out in droves. People camped out for two days to be the first to sample the goods and the drive-through line stretched for 2 miles at lunchtime. Check out the video for a woman who was in tears when asked about her love of the iconic chain.
October 04, 2010
Spreading the word offline
Marketers may be obsessed with social media these days, but spirits marketer Maker's Mark continues to use offline tactics to build loyalty and help evangelists spread the word.
I've been a Maker's Mark Ambassador for a few years, and last week I received a personalized note card along with a stack of business cards with my name on them as a reminder of my ambassadorship. They are the same cards you receive when you sign up to be an ambassador. The note was signed by President Bill Samuels Jr. It's very old-school from a company with a lot of old-world charm.
We interviewed Bill back in 2006 and he told us stories of customers at bars who offer to buy Maker's for new friends they just met, throw down their Ambassador card on the bar, and say "I'll get this round. I'm part of the company." When you give loyal customers the tools to spread the word, and if the opportunity arises, they will.
Listen to our full interview with Bill Samuels and his concept of "marketing without fingerprints" by clicking on the podcast icon.
June 16, 2010
Why a complaint is really a gift
At first blush, a complaining customer is not something we have on our wish list of awesome things in the world.
But this type of customer contact provides a great opportunity to do something remarkable that will build loyalty and word of mouth. Research shows this to be true. Customer experience research firm TARP finds that customers who complain and are satisfied are up to 8% more loyal than if they had no problem at all (PDF).
My experience with Adagio Teas is a great example of this principle. I recently lost the little plastic disk that sits under its IngenuiTEA pot. (Seriously, this teapot for loose leaf tea is super cool. Check out this video.) I couldn't find a replacement disk on their site and emailed them asking why I couldn't buy one. They said there was no way to buy one and that the disk was a nice to have but optional piece of the teapot. I pressed again saying that I prefer to have the disk and how could I get one of them. They offered to send me one for free. Nice! When I received their package, there were two disks plus a sample set of teas and a nice handwritten note.
This was my first interaction with the company as I had received the teapot as a gift. What started out as a complaint about not being able to buy the disk turned out to be an experience worth blogging about. Adagio went above and beyond sending the one disk, and created a more loyal customer who is impressed with their service. That's worth talking about.
BONUS READING: For more on this topic, see Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller's book "A Complaint is a Gift: Recovering Customer Loyalty When Things Go Wrong"
May 06, 2010
How to humanize your brand
If you travel for business frequently, take this quiz:
Think of the hotels you've stayed at this year. Can you name even one employee by name?
I can. Felix from the San Mateo Marriott. I stayed there a few weeks ago and noticed this poster in all of the elevators:
Curious, I stopped into the Marketplace Cafe and sure enough, there was Felix.
Friendly, approachable and mostly resembling the man on the poster, Felix told me he has worked for the hotel for 12 years. He said he loves his job and loves meeting people. He recounted the story of a man he met from Europe who, on his second stay at hotel, remarked that we was surprised that Felix was still there. Felix asked him when he had visited the hotel the first time. The man said "seven years ago."
A now-departed manager had thought up the idea eight years ago for putting Felix on the posters. Felix said there used to be a life-size cardboard cut-out of him in front of the cafe that was so life-like that it would stop people in their tracks to say hi. That is, until someone stole it.
I travel alot and for the most part, hotels are nameless, faceless places that aren't very memorable. But I won't forget the San Mateo Marriott because of Felix.