How to Turn Your Customers Into Evangelists

Dec 3


Martin Avis

Martin Avis

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When we talk about customer loyalty, it usually meansthe customer being loyal to the company. That should bea great result to aim for, but it isn't the ... the story. Real customer loyalty com


When we talk about customer loyalty,How to Turn Your Customers Into Evangelists Articles it usually means
the customer being loyal to the company. That should be
a great result to aim for, but it isn't the beginning
of the story. Real customer loyalty comes from you
being loyal to your customers.

Exceeding expectations is a worn-out cliché these days,
but like all clichés, it covers an important truth. In
an age of instant gratification and heightened public
awareness of consumer issues, your customers expect you
to be good. Good is standard. Good is the average
against which you are judged.

Good doesn't win you any prizes.

Bad, on the other hand, ranges from outright awful, to
'trying-hard-but-not-quite-there'. Any point on this
long line results in three things - none of which you
want: The immediate loss of a customer; the certain
loss of their future trade; the probability that they
will bad-mouth you to everyone they know, ensuring that
a number of potential customers are lost to you as

Aside: In writing this, I am deliberately personalizing
it to you. You are the representative of your company
whether you are the boss or the messenger. Customers
don't care about your position; they care about the
service they receive. So whoever you are, whatever you
do, the customer service buck MUST stop with YOU.

Let's get practical. How do you go beyond 'good'? There
are three steps that every company should take, no
matter how big or small they are:

1. Empowerment

2. Think like your customers

3. Find out who is the best in your field, copy them,
and go a step further.


This is a little-understood, but immensely powerful
concept. Too many companies are frightened to implement
empowerment because they fear loss of control. They are
so wrong. If the idea is introduced correctly, with
every member of staff understanding what is expected of
them, and the parameters under which they can operate,
empowerment is the single most important action that a
company can take to improve its relationship with its

As a simple example, consider the famous hotel chain
which discovered that it had a 'chain-of-command'

A guest would complain about a problem to the desk.

The desk would fill in a form.

The form would go through channels to a manager.

The manager would, in time, read the report.

If the manager felt the problem was sufficiently
important, it would be delegated to a operative to fix.

The hotel felt that is was responding to its guests
complaints. In reality, the problem may have been
fixed, but not for the guest who complained. That guest
stayed disgruntled and probably took his business
elsewhere. Perhaps even telling his friends and
colleagues about the problem (which by now no longer
existed, but it did in their minds).

Then the hotel learned about empowerment.

Now when the guest complained to the desk, the clerk is
empowered to think and act. It is now her job to find a
solution, not to simply pass on the problem. She has a
modest weekly budget to use at her discretion for just
these eventualities.

So now, when she is told by the guest that the coffee
in his room tastes bad, she can ask him which brand he
would prefer. Five minutes later, she calls in to the
local grocery store, buys a jar of his favorite coffee,
takes it to the guest's room and leaves the jar, with a
card personally signed by her. The guest is delighted,
and tells his colleagues what a fantastic place the
hotel is. All it cost was a jar of coffee, a little
thought, and ten minutes.

It even saved a heap of paperwork.

Empower your staff to solve the little problems and
many of the big ones will vanish too.

Think like your customers.

How can such an obvious statement be ignored by so many
companies? If you were buying from you, would you buy
from you again? If your mother walked through the door
of your store, would you treat her any differently to
your other customers? If the answer is yes, you are
wrong. You should treat every customer like your
mother. Substitute the President, or the Queen of
England, if you like. You get the picture.

If you are dealing with a customer who has a complaint,
never try to rationalize it or justify it. Don't blame
the problem on 'company policy'. As far as that
customer is concerned, YOU are the company. YOU have to
solve the problem. So think like they think:

Why is this a problem?

How would I feel if it had happened to me?

What solution would I want?

Think that way, and you will quickly get the irate
customer on your side. Irate customers expect to be
fobbed off with company rules and excuses. The best way
to defuse them is to give them immediate solutions,
without argument.

Over-copy your competitors.

Do some research. Ask around. Who is the best company
in the field? Why? What do they do that is so good?
Now, here is the clever part: ask what they could
improve, what even the best companies do wrong. Then,
when you copy the good stuff, you improve on the bad
stuff as well.

There is nothing wrong with copying good ideas. We all
do it all the time. The real trick is to put your own
slant on the idea and freshen it up to make it your

When you have identified the little niggling problems
that even the best companies get wrong - go out and
celebrate! Once you have solved them, these become your
most powerful benefit-laden selling points:

"Of course we have great prices and people willing to
help you pack your groceries. Who doesn't? But at
Bloggs Supermarket, you get our special double-
reinforced carrying bags. We buy them specially so even
if a whole quart of milk leaks out, your groceries will
never fall through the bottom."

It is often the small difference that makes the sale.
Not because of the item itself, but because it shows
your customers that you care enough about them.

That way, they will care about you too.

Customers who care about the companies they deal with
spend a lot of time telling their friends. Everyone
like to boast about the great service they received.

They become your best promotional weapon: evangelists.

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