I used to think that wanting your customers to love you was an unrealistic goal. But I was proved wrong last week.
On Instagram, Nadia Lim, one of the founders of My Food Bag posted a love letter she had received from one of her customers (who was aircrew on a flight she was taking). In the letter, the customer professed her love of My Food Bag and how it has changed her life. It seemed to me that receiving a customer love letter must be the ultimate in customer loyalty. When a customer feels so strongly about your company and the positive impact it has in their life, that they write you a letter (on a sick bag no less!) then pretty much you have reached loyalty nirvana.
Which is a quite funny really because I’ve never actually worked for a company that uses customers love letters as a metric for how successful they are being in building customer loyalty. Most often they use measures like Net Promoter Score (NPS), active members, points issued & redeemed or customer retention. I know those measures make logical sense, look good on a lean canvas and take up a table in the monthly report. But I think adding in a more emotional metric would be a useful addition. Not only would it paint a colourful picture for employees on what is resonating for customers (and the difference they are making) but it is just good for business. How we feel about a company will determine how likely we are to use them again, use them more or tell people about them.
If you’re not convinced that customer love should be one of your goals, that’s cool. I just think it invites so much more creativity from your employees than a goal of “Increase NPS to 14”. But maybe that’s just me.
A couple of weeks ago I read that they are inventing smartphones that can read your mind. While this kind of freaks me out, it made me wish that more humans could do this. Specifically those responsible for designing and delivering customer experiences.
This was driven home to me last month on a trip to Singapore. The hotel I stayed at was first class at reading my mind or put another way – anticipating my needs, meeting and even exceeding those needs. Every member of staff seem to know my name (just like the Cheers bar without Norm) and were genuinely interested in making my stay memorable. So memorable that I would tell stories about it on my return.
One example of their fabulous mind reading was when I was wading out to a sun lounger that was located in their swimming pool. The loungers were surrounded by water and as I was wading, I was also thinking “what am I going to do with my books and clothes – I don’t want them getting wet?”. I plonked myself down on the lounger but I was still clutching my books and clothes. Next minute, someone appears and says “Ms Mclean, here is a table for your books and clothes”. Genius. Someone had seen me, thought about what I needed and given it to me. Being observant, anticipating what a customer needs based on what you have noticed about them is fundamental in delivering experiences that become stories you tell to your friends.
Contrast this with my plane trip home where I had paid extra to upgrade to Business Class. I was super excited and arrived in my seat carrying two bags. There was no room in any of the overhead lockers that I opened so I sat down with the bags in the aisle and figured that someone would come and help me. Meanwhile all the other Business Class customers were giving me that look that said “don’t squash your bag on top of my more superior one”. Awkward. A little girl waited but no one came. The cabin crew all seemed busy doing their “champagne or orange juice” process and couldn’t deviate from this. They were actually stepping over my bags as they did their “champagne or orange juice” gig. So I just sat there feeling weird.
I felt like the cabin crew did not see me. Did not see that I could not find an overhead locker. Did not see that I was an excited bunny to be in Business Class. Did not see that my excitement was turning to awkwardness. I felt like they were too focused on executing the “this is what we always do at the start of a flight” process which meant they missed the opportunity to observe what I actually needed.
Rest assured that I did manage to find a place for my bags and hopefully I did not offend any of my cheerful fellow passengers. Of course, I would have needed a mind reading smartphone to ascertain this for sure.
I think most people who read Angela’s quote will nod their head in agreement with the statement. From a brand’s point of view it is common sense; you need to establish a rapport with a customer before they are really going to be listening to what you are saying. But I wish more people would get that this thinking applies just as much to email interactions as well.
I don’t want to be sold to when opening my email either, I want to be helped. If you have an email address for your customer you probably have some kind of a relationship with them but this does not mean that they spend their day waiting around to buy more from you. I tell my clients to think about email as bait that leaves customers wanting to know more, gets them clicking on links to find out more and ultimately predisposes them towards your brand so that when they are in the market – they will think of you. Email is perfect for enabling your customers to unlock more of what your brand has to offer. Whether it be reminding them about your after sales service, handy tips on getting the most from your new phone or invitations to exclusive customer events. You’ll stand out from the crowd if your emails are not about selling, but about helping.
BTW – I found this quote in Fast Company – if you have not liked it on Facebook, you should!
PS – Angela starts at Apple in early 2014 so expect her to shake things up! 🙂
One of my pet hates when I shop at Farmers is when they put that big piece of sticky tape over your bag to prove that you haven’t stolen the thing you’ve bought or to stop you stealing more. It really erks me but I try to keep it to myself. But the other day, it all went out the window, I just couldn’t help myself.
It was one of those 50% off childrenswear days so the place was packed and it was 10pm at night. I got to the front of the queue, handed over my ClubCard when asked, paid and then they put the tape over my bag. And then I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.
I asked the lady on the till if I could make an observation. (At which point all the people in the queue looked at me like I was a crackpot). This was my observation.
“In one breath you are asking me for my ClubCard which is rewarding me for my loyalty and thanking me for being a friend of Farmers. And then in the other breath you are accusing me of stealing something. Does that not strike you as being odd?”
At which point all the other ladies on the tills turned around and started nodding their heads in agreement. And the customers in the queue still thought I was a nutbag.
My beef wasn’t with the ladies on the till as I know they were just doing what they were told to do. My point was that I am sure in splendid isolation both these things make sense. Marketing are right to think that a loyalty programme is a good idea. And Risk is also right to think that tape can limit their stock losses.
However – when they come together at the customer – they just don’t feel right. Who looks after the experience the customer has? Who is in charge of that? If you don’t have anyone – you need to change that.
How are you making your customers feel?
Sometimes I ponder on the fact that small businesses are actually a lot smarter than big ones. Big ones could learn a lot from small ones.
They truly are closer to their customers as they are the ones talking to them everyday. Helping them, testing out things with them and solving problems for them. They don’t have to do endless focus groups to find out what customers are thinking. Focus groups are hilarious. Picture this – a small windowlesss room, 9pm on a Tuesday night, with people who have nothing better to do eating free sandwiches and critically evaluating a doordrop that in real life would barely have 30 seconds dedicated to it. Quality way to get insights to feed your marketing strategy. Not.
Successful small businesses focus everything around their customers. And they don’t need any internal change programme to do this or a snappy project name. They just do the right thing. My favourite small business at the moment is my dentist. Two very cool reasons. First up – everytime you refer someone to his practice – he sends you a handwritten thankyou card with a $50 credit voucher to use on your next visit. Nice. The first time it happened, it was a complete surprise and now I actively recommend whenever I get an opportunity. Secondly – because helping his customers out is the first thing on his mind, he never takes any appointments in the week before Christmas. He does this because he wants to keep his schedule free in case any of his customers have a toothache or a problem that needs addressing before the long break. Put simply – he gives up revenue in that week before Christmas so that none of his customers are in pain over the holidays. Wow – that is clever. And that is going to earn you lifetime loyalty.