Church of the Customer: Marketing archives
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
February 01, 2012
People trust people
[Click on chart to see larger version.]
The latest edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer study just came out showing CEO's in the dog house when it comes to being trusted. Who do people trust? Academic and tech experts, sure.
But the biggest movers in the study are "a person just like me" and "regular employee."
Look at your 2012 marketing plan.
- Are you providing ways for your customers to get together in-person and online to encourage word of mouth?
- Are you showcasing your best employees in social media, at conferences, and at private events with customers?
June 06, 2011
Kicking out unwanted customers, Alamo Drafthouse style
Two years ago, we wrote about the best theatre chain in the country: Austin, Texas' Alamo Drafthouse and how it clearly warns customers to not talk or text during a movie or "we'll kick your ass out." (Their actual words.) The Alamo maintains its policy with their own funny PSA's that run before the previews.
This week, the chain launched a new PSA featuring the evidence of a slightly inebriated, unhappy customer who didn't heed the warning. See below. Audio is NSFW.
Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League explains on the company's blog:
Ma'am, you may be free to text in all the other theaters in the Magnited States of America, but here at our "little crappy ass theater," you are not. Why you may ask? Well, we actually do give a f*$k.
Check out the comments on the blog post (like the one below) and you'll see why standing up for your principles and your best customers, at the expense of bad ones, is a smart loyalty strategy.
- CNN's Anderson Cooper does a segment on the PSA and calls Tim League a "great American hero" who should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Tim League pens a CNN.com article detailing all of the founding principles of the Alama Drafthouse designed to provide an "awesome experience for true movie fans."
May 12, 2011
Your most valued customer
Ms. Linda may not be the mayor of your coffee shop, but she is one of your most valued customers.
My nearby Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf sported this sign inside the store the other day. The barista told me that Linda comes in every day for her small mocha ice blended and her warm oatmeal raisin cookie.
I love this simple home-made sign idea in the store because:
- It shows customers they are valued
- It's an invitation for customers to ask employees about Linda
- It's local charm in a national chain
December 08, 2010
The Social Engagement Journey
First in a series of three posts
It was exactly one year ago today that I wrote a post entitled "Social Media 2010: it's time to get boring."
I'd suggested that marketers and business leaders see past the social media hype and begin integrating it into business functions and processes, to go beyond the viral video.
A year later, companies seem to be on a journey in integrating social media into their business operations. By observing some top Fortune 1000 companies and how they transformed into more customer-centric organizations by integrating and operationalizing social media, we and our team at Ant's Eye View have mapped out a 5-stage transformation. We call it the "Social Engagement Journey."
Stage 1 of the journey is traditional command and control. One-way communication with customers is the norm, and the various functional units in a company operate relatively independently.
Stage 2 usually involves 1-2 individuals or teams who begin experimenting with social engagement. These mavericks can appear in any part of the organization but are often in marketing or support groups. There may be multiple mavericks in a company, but they are not yet connected to each other. Teams in this stage emphasize direct customer engagement, likely breaking or bending internal rules to make it happen.
Stage 3 is when companies begin getting serious about social. A formal team may be empowered to help operationalize social engagement, or there are informal internal communities that drive progress. At this stage, companies emphasize training, policies, measurement frameworks and common engagement platforms.
Stage 4 usually means social engagement is delivering real business results. Executive support is broad, and engagement efforts are built into forecasts and annual plans. Customer listening is the norm, and multiple individuals within business units and functional groups are empowered to engage directly with customers and prospects.
Most companies would feel very satisfied reaching Stage 4, but we believe there is a higher stage of engagement.
Stage 5 is probably nirvana given that many of the tools to achieve this stage don’t exist yet for enterprise-level companies, but we call it the Fully Engaged Enterprise. In it, companies experience breakthrough business results based on deep customer engagement. Customers say things like “You know what I need before I do” and “my life is better because of you," or “I trust you.” That said, there's a lot of foundation work to do in Stages 1-4, regardless of technology.
What do you think about the Journey? What stage would you say your company is in?Tweet
August 16, 2010
Has your product jumped the shark?
From our good friend Tom Fishburne:
"In the rush to maintain momentum, there is huge pressure to "jump the shark." Jumping the shark attracts new attention and feels necessary in the game of competitive one-upmansship. But the volume of attention is far less important than the caliber of the attention. And more important than grabbing fresh attention is the maintaining of those already buying.
The risk of jumping the shark isn't getting eaten by the shark. It's leaving your loyalists behind."
More on Tom's take on jumping the shark here.
July 13, 2010
9 ways Groupon leads the online coupon industry
In the discount world, lowest price is king.
In the online discount coupon world, Groupon hopes to be king via customer service.
Since launching in November 2008, the Chicago-based deal-a-day website has sold over 7 million online coupons in 70 cities. Its success has spawned competitor sites such as LivingSocial, Townhog, and Homerun, and it's betting that fanatical customer service will keep them leading the pack.
During a recent trip to Chicago, I spent some time at Groupon's headquarters hoping to understand what makes this fast-growing company tick. What I found were the nine ways Groupon focuses on customer service in a price-competitive market:
- Promote the fine print. Groupon features terms and conditions in large type in a clearly labeled section right beside the deal highlights. You can't miss it.
- Put a phone number on every coupon. If you are at the location of the merchant and have any issues, you can call Groupon HQ to resolve them. Try to find the Amazon.com customer service number. I dare you.
- Anticipate and diffuse frustration. If you click to unsubscribe from Groupon's email alerts, you are taken to a web page with what looks like a live video feed of Derrick, the Groupon Guy. A button says "PUNISH DERRICK." Once clicked, a guy walks by and throws a drink in Derrick's face. A message appears saying "That was pretty mean. I hope you are happy. Want to make it up to Derrick?" Another button says "RESUBSCRIBE." Fun fact: "Derrick" is actually Groupon CEO Andrew Mason.
- Apologize. Groupon is fanatical about vetting good merchants, so when a merchant went out business after hundreds of coupons had been sold for it, Groupon gathered the entire team together holding a sign that said "We're sorry." They sent the picture, along with a refund, to all of the customers who had purchased a coupon.
- Have an iron-clad guarantee. If you are not happy with the Groupon experience, the company will refund your money, even if you have used the coupon. They call it "The Groupon Promise" and the company told me a very small percentage of customers ask for refunds.
- Let customers discuss your products on your property. Every Groupon deal has its own discussion thread in an online forum. Prospective customers can ask questions about the deal before they buy. The thread stays active forever so customers will often go back and add feedback about their experience with the merchant. No other competitor has this.
- Use two-way ratings. Groupon's success is predicated on happy customers and happy merchants. Customers can give awards to merchants that they like or flag a merchant for a poor experience. Merchants can also rate loyal customers or good tippers, and can flag unfriendly customers.
- Treat the call center as a customer loyalty touchpoint. Groupon customer service reps don't have scripts. There are no pre-set time limits on calls. Reps are trusted to solve a customer's issue on the first call.
- Hire for outside-the-box skills. About 70% of Groupon's customer service reps are connected to the local theater scene. Joe Harrow, Groupon's head of customer service says theater folks are a great fit. They are high energy, friendly, outgoing, quick on their toes and fun people. Plus, they need day jobs. On my recent visit to Groupon HQ, Joe showed me a wall in the customer service area decorated with pictures of team members. He mentioned that you can tell who the theater folks are by their professional head shots.
June 21, 2010
After the brainstorm
"As we return to the realties of our day jobs at the end of a brainstorm, we run into road blocks, inertia, committees and other hazards that can water down ideas or shut them down entirely. That's what organizations do well. They are designed to minimize risk. Bringing an idea to life can feel like making it through a circuitous maze. So much emphasis with innovation is placed on the up-front brainstorm, yet the real acid test is in the day-to-day shepherding of the idea through the organization..."
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"
June 02, 2010
OGST visually explained
If you're a fan of OGST -- Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Tactics -- then this visual explainer that Paula Hansen of Chart Magic drew during my talk last month at the Social Commerce Summit is a handy way to explain it to colleagues.