“When you have a good product and a decent position in the market, be it location, reputation, whatever – AND you have customers who want what you sell, you have a shot at success. And when those customers want to come back – and more importantly won’t go anywhere else – that’s called loyalty. And taking it a step further, when they are willing to recommend you to others – because they love you – that’s called evangelism. And that is what the Cult of the Customer is all about; creating an amazing experience that turns satisfied customers into customer evangelists.” The Cult of the Customer: Create an Amazing Customer Experience That Turns Satisfied Customers into Customer Evangelists, Shep Hyken
My best managerial trait is that I am a customer “nut.” I love reading anything I can get my hands on around ways to reach more customers, keep them coming back for more and making sure they are more than satisfied. A couple of years ago, I was introduced to a very impactful YouTube video by someone named Shep Hyken (Hyken) about an extraordinary cab driver’s delivery of great customer service. In short, the cab driver focused on delivering a better-than-average experience all of the time to all of his customers and added some surprises along the way. By no accident, one of Hyken’s books called “The Cult of the Customer” made its way onto my bookshelf recently. The concepts found within were so inspiring that sharing them with other managers whom are always looking to get better just makes sense. You are sure to find a nugget or two to implement in your operations and increase customer loyalty.
Hyken points out that an organization will never create customer evangelists until it first focuses on creating a Cult of Amazement for its internal customers; its employees. As one cannot give what one does not have inside, employees must be routinely impressed with the experience they receive before they start to recommend the company to other employees and customers. Hyken says, “As the name suggests, the cult is dedicated to delivering amazement. This is not necessarily the result of perfect customer service (as in never screwing up) but instead the result of making Moments of Magic part of a consistent, ongoing pattern of experiences. Remember, these are experiences that are simply above average, which the customer comes to expect and rely on.”
Hyken suggests there are many ways to achieve a Cult of Amazement. I will not attempt to summarize all of them, but instead highlight some key concepts and useful strategies that any manager (including myself) looking to capture life-long customers would be wise to consider.
(1) People love to be appreciated and hate to be ignored. Taking more time to show your appreciation for your employees’ efforts and responding to their requests in a timely manner goes a long way to ensure they do the same for your customers. Customer appreciation counts, and it just makes good business sense to treat your employees well. Practical Tip: Make the time to connect with every employee every week. It may be an overwhelming thought, but it speaks volumes to your team members about what commitment and loyalty mean to you.
(2) Don’t only fix problems as they arise, but also restore your customers’ confidence. As a manager, we are expected to: Fix the problem; Do it with a positive, accountable attitude; and Act with urgency. It makes no sense to try to argue with a customer unless you do not want to keep them as a customer. In the end, customers like to know that you are not afraid to take responsibility. They like transparency and they like dealing with organizations that solve their pains with a smile. Be that organization! Practical Tip: Commit to recognizing your loyal customers and make sure they know they are special to your business.
(3) Know how customers interact with your business to help you serve them better. Whenever a customer touches your organization, they form an impression, no matter how small. Here is a great online resource that defines touch points in more detail. Generally, touch points are interactions. The key is to identify your location’s key touch points by Holding a meeting with your employees and Identifying and mapping out all of your touch-points including behind-the-scenes aspects of your business that might impact the customer’s experience. Then, make sure to:
i. Create ways to improve in some of these areas.
ii. Brainstorm ideas of how to add value to your existing offering.
iii. Most importantly, ask your customers what they want by administering traditional customer satisfaction surveys and more transactional surveys that measure loyalty. They help you determine your most important touch points from your customers’ perspective and the areas on which you should focus to improve loyalty. Practical Tip: Develop a promotion that allows you to collect your customer’s contact information. Manage that database carefully to engage and build long-standing relationships.
What is useful to know is that by simply making the above part of your day, your business will change for the better. In my position as the Director of Client Relationships, I find that putting the proper systems in place to ensure our business and people are prepared to perform at an above-average level every time cannot be overstated. You may even notice that your customers are becoming more and more confident in your ability and desire to exceed their expectations. And they will tell others.
Any brand or company, big or small, can create a Cult of Amazement within their organization. Have fun creating yours!
By, Heather R. Younger, J.D., Director of Sales and Client Relationships at Red Book Solutions | 15 years experience in sales, customer relationship management and retention in healthcare, financial services and consulting.
Self-proclaimed customer “nut.”