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
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
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.
DEFINE CUSTOMER SUCCESS
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.
MAP OUT YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMER
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.
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.
UNDERSTAND THE “EMOTIONAL SEA
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.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE EMOTIONAL
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
USE A PROXY MEASURE
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.