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Customer Success
Fiercely Loyal – Turn Every Customer That Walks “Through The Door” Into A Die-Hard, Raving Fan And Grow Your Brand To Legendary Status
Fiercely Loyal – Turn Every Customer That Walks “Through The Door” Into A Die-Hard, Raving Fan And Grow Your Brand To Legendary Status

Having a large base of loyal customers that fight for your brand, covet it at every step of the way and refuse to abandon you, is every business owner’s dream. What few know is that achieving that dream, even if you’re only a “small player” is really easy. On the list of all the small “adjustments” you could make to your business that reap the greatest rewards, this probably tops the list.

 

You don’t have to be a “big player” to generate the kind of customer loyalty you dream of, heck, you don’t even need to spend anymore on your budget. You just need to change the way you approach your customers and the way they experience your product or service. It’s that simple.

In this post, I’m going to share one key ingredient that you can apply to your business today that will help your business create an army of fiercely loyal customers. How, every customer that walks “through the door” will turn into a lifetime, loyal customer, without any extra resource or energy on your part. An automatic and guaranteed process.

Because, having this process is what will generate that huge word of mouth and cement your brand status in every person’s mind. Even if someone isn’t a buyer of your product, they will at least admire or wonder at the real estate your brand holds in everyone’s minds which in itself will drive customers to you.

Just like the Apple Computer Inc, the Amazon’s and the Netflix’s of this world. Their customer base refuses to “shop” elsewhere or even remotely entertain the possibility of considering a competitor, no matter how many hurdles they have to overcome to remain loyal to them.

It’s this kind of brand loyalty that creates billion dollar empires and I’m going to share how you can do that too.

So HOW DO they do it?

In two simple words: CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

 

These companies optimise every single touch-point and aspect of their customer experience and make sure this amazing customer experience is consistent and true for EVERY SINGLE person that interacts with their product.

 

So here are some simple steps you can follow that will help you optimise YOUR customer experience.

 

1)    DEFINE CUSTOMER SUCCESS 

When your customer “experiences” or “consumes” your product, you must ask yourself what does it mean for them to have a successful experience. Note: This is not defined by you getting paid, it’s defined in terms of your customer’s experience. Let’s say you’re a hairdresser. In terms of customer success, in their “unsuccessful” state the customer currently doesn’t have a great haircut and don’t feel great about it. Once they’re finished with you, they should have a great haircut and feel great about it. Now they’ve achieved customer success and you were the vehicle that helped them on that journey. 

Thus you must define what the current unsuccessful state of your customer looks like and then the successful state. These two points then become the start and finish points of your customer journey.

2)    MAP OUT YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMER JOURNEY 

This doesn’t have to be a scientific or academic exercise. Just some simple pen and paper, that “maps” out the steps that a customer undergoes to first learn about your product, make a buying decision, purchase the product, use and experience the product and then continue the relationship with you as a customer. You will have specific “milestones” or specific things that every customer of yours naturally has to do as part of their “journey” with you. 

You need to identify those and write or draw them out. Consider the example of someone buying an iPhone. The first people to learn about the iPhone are usually those present at the initial keynote. Those people then tell others and this information spreads to media outlets. You, as a potential customer, then go and have a “play” in the retail store, then you buy the phone, bring it home, unbox it, set it up and start using it. You’ll install your sim, make your first call, add contacts, install an app or two, take a few pictures and setup things like your email. Every one of these points I’ve mentioned is a “touch point” and part of the customer journey, since every customer has to go through this same journey. Or at least a large part of it. Therefore all of these must be listed and mapped out.

3)    UNDERSTAND THE “EMOTIONAL SEA LEVEL”

This is the most important part of this exercise and as soon as you understand this, you won’t need any customer experience genius to TELL you what changes you should make in your business, you will know yourself intuitively what you need to do. The emotional sea level is an arbitrary line that assesses the emotional state of your customer. If your customer has a POSITIVE experience, then they are ABOVE the emotional sea level. 

If they have a NEGATIVE experience, they are BELOW the emotional sea level. Now, you must look at each step of the customer journey and analyse what is the emotional state of your customer at each touch point. Imagine a swimmer in the sea, the LOWER his head goes BELOW water, the greater the chance he will NOT survive. The HIGHER his head is ABOVE the water the further away he is from drowning.

4)    HOW TO DETERMINE THE EMOTIONAL SEA LEVEL 

At this point you’re probably asking yourself, how do I even gauge what the customer’s emotional state at each stage is. Simple. You ask. There are a number of tools and methods that you can employ the determine this, but ultimately it boils down to a simple key principle of asking the customer how they feel. Now, note that in most cultures (most especially British cultures where it’s considered impolite to speak the truth due the risk of it being inappropriate), you’re unlikely to get an honest answer. It’s not that your customer’s are trying to deceive you, it’s just the society we live in, like when I once went into a Pizza Express and there were bits floating in my water. 

At the end of the meal our waiter asked us: “How was everything?”, I said “great”; it was partly instinctive, but it was also partly because I feared if I had said anything otherwise they might spit in my food or something when I next go there. So number one: You have to make sure your customer feels safe and comfortable enough to tell you the truth without any fear of even the slightest repercussion.

5)    USE A PROXY MEASURE

There’s always other ways of determining or measuring something rather than the direct measure itself. For example, when you send someone a message on WhatsApp and you see the two blue ticks you can be sure they read the message. You don’t have to ask them. For your customer journey you can implement similar measures. 

Most companies use what is known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which asks customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to someone else because if they’re unlikely to recommend you, there’s a very good chance they have something they were unhappy about or uninspired with. Anything less than an 8 out of 10, or 4 out of 5 is often a good indicator that your customer experience is mediocre. You should always aim for a 10 out of 10 (or 5 out of 5) with every customer that walks through the door

6)     FIX THE NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE TOUCH POINTS FIRST 

Here’s the key mistake that most people make that you must remember to avoid. Judging the emotional state of your customer is NOT about looking at how they feel at the end of the customer journey on aggregate. It’s about making sure that there is no SINGLE touch point in that journey where their emotional state becomes negative. 

The swimmer’s head only has to dip below sea level once and for a short space of time for him to drown, so you must treat your customer journey and analysis in the same way. This is why, First, focus on what could be causing the customer to dip below the emotional sea level and then once those issues have been addressed, then make sure that you can raise them “above the water” at each touch point as high as possible. 

The mistake most companies make is that they focus on only one part of the customer journey and make it as good as they can but ignore the rest. Like my local Asian restaurant down the road that makes probably the best Butter Chicken curry in the country, but the rest of that customer experience is awful. The tables in the restaurant are always sticky, the waiters are often in a depressed mood, and when it comes to payment, they only accept cash because their credit card machine is broken. Likely story! In the beginning your customer will put up with their head being dipped below water, because they want to get to the product, they’ll WILL themselves to get to your product, but over time, this friction will settle in and they won’t be able to fight their own will any longer. This is exactly why I haven’t been back to the restaurant in over a year despite not having found a better Butter Chicken anywhere else. Because the thought of having to go to the cash machine puts me off each time so I just choose to go elsewhere. For the sake of saving themselves 2% per transaction, they’ve lost a customer for a lifetime. And if they have lost me, they’ve likely lost many others, no wonder their business is crumbling. 

 On the other hand, when you look at companies like Apple, the retail experience is good. The staff are friendly, the retail stores look good and have an inviting feel to them. The purchase experience is swift and easy. The “unboxing” experience is really nice (remember, Apple set the initial gold standard on this, and until they started doing it, it wasn’t even a thing). Setting up the phone is really easy, even someone like my Grandma could do it. That’s the level of commitment you have to make to your entire customer journey and make sure that every customer gets the same experience. 

Plus, Apple has amazing keynotes because it’s part of the customer journey. Just because you haven’t purchased their product at that point, you have still had a ‘touch point’ with them. So you must fix everything along the ENTIRE journey. At the end of each client engagement I always ask customers how likely they would be to recommend me to someone else, or how they found the experience, if they give me anything less than a 10 out of 10, I ALWAYS ask them what we could do to improve. When I first started writing my book I would write one chapter at a time and then send the chapter to a few people via email. 

For me, my ultimate goal was for the book to be inspiring and engaging, so I would ask them if they found the chapter to be inspiring and engaging. i.e. did they feel like they couldn’t wait to read more at the end. If I ever got back a response that was less than that, then I would keep re-writing the chapter until it started to “hit the spot”.

7)    MAKE SURE YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IS CONSISTENT 

Many companies do the hard work of figuring out what’s affecting their customer experience but then fail to reap the fruits of the labour because they don’t make their experience consistent. If Apple only shipped 5% of their phones in the normal boxes and the rest in a plastic bag, their brand following would most definitely not be the same. Whatever customer experience improvements you make, you must ensure that regardless of who the customer is, that they get the same experience as anyone else. If you choose to give some customers preferential treatment over others, you’re headed for failure in the long term. 

It’s all about having a repeatable and reliable process. When I finished writing my book and had made sure that every chapter was reviewed, at the end I got hold of 10-20 independent reviewers that had never met me, never knew me and asked them to have a read of the book and give me their honest thoughts. 95% of the people that read it, loved it. That’s because I had already done the hard work to make sure that each touch point (ie each chapter) was as good as I could make it. 

If 5 people enjoyed each chapter , then there’s a good chance (since what everyone will read will be exactly the same) that if 20 people read it, it would elicit the same response. But now that 20 people had read it, I was confident that if 20 people read the book and loved it, then there’s a good chance it will be the same for 200, and if 200 read it and love it, then…. So on and so on. Most businesses make the mistake on spending their marketing dollars on more and more customers, and while that is important and needed to sustain the business, it’s far better to focus on making the customer experience more consistent before trying to drive a large volume of customers. That way you will get a much better return on your investment.

8)    SLOWLY MAKE THE POSITIVE EXPERIENCES EVEN BETTER 

You’re main job is to make sure you’re customer doesn’t “drown” at any point. Now that you have that fixed and you can be sure that every customer will get a good customer experience, you can then focus on the positive touch points and make the customer float as “HIGH” as possible. If you’re Amazon, for example, you might go from offering next day delivery to delivery within the hour to really wow your customers. But there’s no point doing that if you can’t consistently get the next day delivery right first.

Now you have all the key steps you need to creating a really good customer experience, which in turn will drive your fiercely loyal following and grow your brand.

 

Wishing you the brand of legends, the one we’ll all talk and write home about.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Khuram Malik
Chief Strategist & Founder
Khuram helps Founders and CEOs with strategies for growth. His biggest wish is to help create 100 household names around the globe over the next few years. He is unrepentant and relentless about early adoption and smart execution.