I set a goal to read 24 books this year. This was the first book I read in 2019. Here are my notes from ‘Never Lose A Customer Again‘:
The book starts out by reviewing the history of customer expectations: In the 70’s people would open up boxes at the store to make sure the product wasn’t broken before buying it. This was just a normal part of the process as a significant percentage of new items were damaged prior to purchase.
Now we live in a world where customers expect everything to come perfect and enjoy the experience of the purchase. Apple executes this flawlessly with their branding, packaging, and product experience.
Customer experience vs customer service – one is proactive while the other is reactive.
8 Phases of the Customer Experience
The book says that there are 8 phases of the customer experience. Most companies only make it to step 4.
6 Ways to Communicate in each of the 8 Phases
- In person
- Phone (“90 min to respond to email. 90 seconds to respond to text”)
- Present – make it personalized
Phase 1: Assess
The customer is wondering if you’ll be able to fulfill their need and if you’ll walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
70% of buying decisions are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
There is a large disconnect between sales team and service team from the handoff after the sale. The disconnect is a result of the structure of the business.
Make sure to pre-frame your prospect – what will the experience be like after the sale.
Do your homework to make a personal and emotional reaction the first time you ever meet the customer. Listen for things or peruse their social media.
Wow your own employees before you expect them to wow your customers.
Help the customer feel special, important, and that they matter. The key is to listen. Remember the things they tell you to wow them later.
The book includes great questions to ponder on at the end of each chapter. How great are you at execution in the Assess phase?
Phase 2: Admit
This is the stage that the customer admits they have a problem that you can solve.
Celebrate this milestone with them. Give them something tangible to commemorate the moment. Make them feel like they are part of an exclusive group, they belong.
Examples: Build-a-Bear gives a birth certificate and announces it to all of the store when someone “adopts” a bear.
Tony Robbins group charges $15k to be part of his Master program but the guests get to stand on stage and get a picture with him. That’s an expensive photo.
Zogics has a cool and funny designed box with a lollipop inside and emails a personalized video of an actual employee thanking the customer for their purchase and emails it to them the same day of the purchase.
The desire to be part of a tribe is irresistible. Everyone wants to belong.
Don’t peak too early or go overboard. It’s ok to wow your customer here but you don’t want to show them all of your qualities too early.
Use the 6 communication tools during the Admit phase:
In person – celebration, something memorable.
Email -personalized and signed by the entire team thanking the customer for their purchase and trust or send a momento after the fact like a photo.
Mail – personalized, handwritten letter sent the same day as the purchase, creative package design.
Phone – individual thank you cards the day after the purchase.
Video – a short “welcome to our family” video sent to customers after their purchase – thumbnail image shows the customers name.
Present – unexpected treat.
How can you use these 6 communication tools during this phase?
Phase 3: Affirm
This is when buyers start to doubt their purchase decision. It’s natural and is often called buyers remorse. They wonder if they made the right decision. It’s your job to make sure they are reassured quickly.
Great example is Total Debt Freedom in Canada. They do a selfie video of the sales rep introducing the account manager that will work with the customer and show them a wall of signatures from their raving fans that drone to the office to thank them. This is how they make the handoff easy and clear for the customer.
The book gives a great example of what a poor handoff is like:
Mention Bob on the night of the proposal not on the wedding night. This example is funny and great. … enter the honeymoon suite, “Oh hey, you’ve never met him before but this is Bob and he’s going to take care of you from now on. I’ve got to go find someone else to chase now.” You wouldn’t do this in your personal life. Why would you do this in your professional one. Make the handoffs smooth.
Six communication methods:
In person: provide generous return policy.
Email: a well written confirmation email “CD baby!” A message of excitement like the one from Book in a Box.
Mail: a care package sets the tone for the relationship.
Phone: a call letting them know they made the right decision by member of the business or veteran customer.
Video: personalized handoff video.
Present: unexpected gifts and surprises.
Phase 4: Activate
Phase begins with the first major post sale interaction with the product or service. Energize the relationship and propel it forward with an official kickoff of the relationship. The business delivers on promises made during the awards phase.
Examples: Apple charging the iPod before they shipped it so customer could use it when they open it.
Companies using nicely designed brochures or packaging during first interaction after the sale.
True concern and focus on meeting the promises made.
Shock and awe in a good way. R
Phase 5: Acclimate
Customers don’t know your companies process. Don’t expect them to know it like you do. Create a map for them that shows them all of the steps of your service or product.
Dominos pizza app is a great example of this. It tells you what’s happening to give confidence that progress is being made and the work is being done.
A medical software company sends their customers a puzzle with 20 pieces. Each piece is a stage of completion for implementation of the medical software. They send a notification to put on another puzzle piece at each stage. On stage 20 they send out a team member to congratulate and celebrate the full implementation of the software.
He also used a CrossFit gym as an example. Breaks down the stages of initiation and long term service. One idea I liked is they bring in a taco guy and a cooler of drinks and have a social night for their people to get to know each other. J
Make sure you help you customers feel included not excluded from your company and lingo. Introduce them to the lingo early.
Most customers start their business relationship with you from a place of mistrust due to prior experiences with other companies that gave them baggage.
You have to anticipate the parts of the relationship that will cause them stress and make it right before they even call you. An example was the Delta app that notifies you that your checked bag made it on the plane.
Help your customer get to know your team. Send them a who’s who document. It should introduce who they will be working with and who they would need to contact depending on what the issue or their needs are.
Most customers start to defect at this point so it’s important to help them acclimate. Do it in person, email, mail, phone, video, or with a present.
Phase 6: Accomplish
The Accomplish Phase of the customer experience occurs when the customer achieves the result they were seeking when they first decided to do business with you. Unfortunately, many customers never reach this phase and even fewer companies pay attention to this important milestone.
Gives an example of a company “Ongoing Operations” that sends a cake to their customers when their project has been fully implemented. The note with the cake reads, “You just finished this great big implementation project. While it wasn’t a piece of cake, have a piece of cake on us.”
Know the customers primary goal and then celebrate with them when they achieve the milestone. You should invest 5% of the projects profits back into experience enhancements for your customer.
Customers will experience one of three outcomes:
- Mission Accomplished – They got what they wanted from your company and are happy about it.
- Lukewarm Bath – They got the result they wanted but don’t have positive feelings associated with your company. They are unlikely to purchase again or give referrals.
- Mission Failure – They didn’t get their results and decide to never do business with your company again. Sadly this happens a lot.
Pay attention to when the customer gets the results they wanted from you. Celebrate it with them. One digital training company even mails out a physical graduation certificate to celebrate the milestone.
Help you customers run through the red tape not slow down to stop on the finish line.
Sending tangible items when you are an online company is a fun thing for the customer. Makes the relationship more real.
Use their accomplishment as a chance to congratulate and celebrate them. Done correctly, you can also upsell or cross sell other items to them at this point.
A website building company sends out a survey after a completed project to both the customer as well as the employees that worked on the project. They ask the employees and customers to rate the experience on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Depending on the number of stars, it will provide a different message like “Wow, we are that bad? Please tell us why we suck. We are strong enough to take it.” or “Awesome! We are happy to hear that! Can you please let us know what you liked?” J
One restaurant gives a blue menu to customers who have been there before and a green menu to those who are visiting the restaurant for the first time. They focus on making the customer feel like they’ve been a regular customer there for years even on the second visit. They focus on “micro wow” customer experiences.
After the visit, they call customers to thank them for coming in and some of them get personalized videos from the restaurant owners thanking them for coming. I really like this idea.
Some questions to ask yourself about this phase:
What is the goal the customer is trying to reach? If you don’t know what it is, how will you know when they achieve it?
Describe in detail the goal that the customer seeks. Do you describe it the same way that the customer does?
What percentage of your costumers do you think achieve the goals they had when purchasing your product or services?
In your business, do you create remarkable experiences during the accomplish phase? If so, what are they?
How can you use in-person interactions during this phase to celebrate the customers achievements?
Think of ways to do it with email, mail, call, videos, or presents
Phase 7: Adopt
The customer adopts the business and proudly shows support and affinity for the brand. Now that their original goal is done, the customer now decides to double down on the association and establish a long term relationship. This is when they truly become loyal.
Gives example of Sephora’s exclusive club for those that spend $1,000 in makeup per year.
Apple products and how people wait in lines for the next product. The white headphones were a way for people to easily recognize the Apple fans.
Harley Davidson people love the brand so much they get tattoos of it to show other “tribesmen” that they are part of the tribe.
Make it easy for your fans to show their loyalty to the company.
Make an exclusive club for those truly loyal fans. Help them see that they are in another tier.
Lady Gaga focuses on her top 1% of customers. She calls them “Little Monsters”. Sometimes she’ll look up their cell phone numbers and call them to come backstage with her for a drink. She gives them a site to network with each other.
DoTerra is great at treating its customers and it’s sales people well. They give them exclusive gifts or deals.
Create incredible bonuses for your most committed customers. This builds affinity and gives them yet another reason to sing your praises. Create shareable content from these interactions to promote the benefits of being a repeat customer.
The Chicago Cubs remodeled their locker room and a guy had an idea to use the old wood that was in the locker rooms and turn them into speakers. They made 400 speakers from the wood and gave those speakers to their premium seat holders. They gave it to them in the off season. The people loved them and wanted more. The cubs decided not to make more than 400 so it would be an exclusive thing.
Your most loyal customers deserve special treatment. Exclusivity is a powerful thing.
Taylor Swift does a thing called Swiftmas. Behind the scenes she researched fans social media. Posts a Santa emoji on their social media page and then the person unexpectedly receives a “swiftmas” package in the mail. They love it so much their share it on social media. She does a lot of things like this to connect with her fans.
Taylor’s level of research is awesome. She looks at their last 6 months of social media posts to see what they are in to. J
What can you do to help your customers show their loyalty?
What can you do to deepen the relationship and help them feel part of the family?
If there’s a time to not be cheap when it comes to giving back to your customers, it’s now. These people love your company and should be recognized for that.
Use in person, different level of emails for their loyalty, mail, personalized phone calls, videos, and presents to promote their adoption of your company and keep the relationship strong.
Most companies fail to do this.
Phase 8: Advocate
This phase is when customer becomes a raving fan and tells others about how great your business is.
This is the best time to ask for referrals. Many companies ask for referrals at the very beginning. It’s not always the smartest thing to do because they don’t know you well enough yet to trust you with their family and friends. However, when they are advocates they know you and love you. They’ll gladly give you referrals.
Give a nice gift to those that give you referrals.
Make it easy for customers to give testimonials and reviews. Include a link. Ask them for the favor and that it will only take 3 min.
Online reviews are incredible powerful.
Gave an example of 4Knine Seat Covers. Online review ask is sent 30 days after they receive the product so they know the customer will already have used it and liked it. Using the reviews they started generating $250k per month. Without the review messages, business went down to $76k per month. They turned the review messages back on and within months were making over $200k per month again in sales.
Dropbox grew to 75,000 accounts in the first 24 hours. They had over 10M users after just one year. This happened because they made it easy for their users to share the news about the service and receive 500MB storage for free for every referral they sent that signed up.
Delta does a great job by offering added miles for referrals for their AMEX credit card.
The best customer rewards offer exclusivity and rare opportunities- and sometimes both.
He gave an example of a time where he referred someone to a company and they had a metal briefcase delivered to him with one dollar bills stacked up inside the brief case, about 10% of the purchase amount generated by the referral. The company sent him the combination via text around the same time that the briefcase was delivered. – cool idea
MasterMindTalks holds conferences every year that cost $3k to get into. They make it so exclusive that their wait list is 1,000’s of names long. They give their attendees one golden ticket to give to a referral for the next year which moves that person up in line. People beg for the golden tickets. The right referral is better and important than any referral.
Using unexpected rewards to heighten the referral experience ensures that if you seek referrals your customers will rush to bring them to you. J
Think of ways to use the 6 methods of communication in the Advocate stage.
What is the first signal that a customer is now an advocate for your company or offerings? (Hint: they might be giving referrals without you asking for them)
What does advocacy look like to you?
Do you create remarkable experiences at the advocacy phase?
Get Started: How to Stop Losing Customers Today
4 steps in the customer experience enhancement process:
Spend time researching and gathering personal and emotional information about your customers. Review their social media accounts. Keep the information on a system – ink fades slower than memory. Get focused on what you want to know about your customers. Send them a survey or ask them directly if you need to.
What do they like to do?
Where did they go to college?
What do their Facebook photos tell you about them?
What’s their job history like? Etc.
Observe your customers in their natural habitat.
Examples: Bellman read his name on his baggage and then welcomed him to the hotel by name. Another example: he got cough syrup all over his hygiene items and the maid cleaned it all up, wrote a hand written note that read “Mr Coleman, I hope you’re feeling better. -Kelly”
Take the time to watch your customers use your product or service. Put yourself in their shoes.
Record your observations. Review them several days later.
Third step in the customer experience enhancement approach.
Now that you have observed and investigated, you are now better positioned to customize your communication.
Knowing what they like or do allows you to ask questions like, “How’s your daughter Ilene doing at Iowa State?” or you can send them a copy of a photographers work if you know their into photography. Make it a personal and or emotional connection.
You can do “Personal Wows” where you wow an individual. You can do “Wow Groups” when you have customers that have the same likes. You can do customer appreciation events when you know what most of your customers would like to do.
Don’t treat your customers in a commoditized way. When was the last time you got excited by getting a gift card to a national chain restaurant? Make it personal. No lame typical general gifts. Generalized gifts tell the customer that they aren’t important enough to take extra time to get them what they want.
Use “strategic appreciation” – a regular practice and policy of gifting a customer in order to show appreciation and to build a foundation of increased business and personal interactions in the future. He references a book titled, “Giftology” that offers ideas around how to give good gifts.
The author of Giftology sent him a knife and knife block several days after meeting him. The knife was engraved with the writer’s name, wife’s name, and family. He uses this knife twice a day and it naturally makes him think of the author of Giftology.J
Tips for the surprise step:
- Surprise the spouse and family
- Remember the assistant and team members
- Eliminate your logo, tag line, or any other message or image about your company
- Put the recipients name on it
- Give the very best you can afford
- Experiences are great but give them something to remember from the experience
- Pay attention to the calendar, surprise them when others won’t be (avoid holidays)
- Be better than average
- Don’t worry about pleasing everyone
- Don’t forget the note, take time to hand write a note.
- Don’t give to receive. “Never give a gift just to get a thank you card.”
How Do I Get My Employees To Follow The Process:
- Get employees involved from the beginning
- Let employees co-create the experience
- Give employees autonomy to create their own experience
- Establish a customer experience budget
- Track and celebrate the small wins
- Form a brand experience team
How Do I Get My Employers To Make This A Priority
- Buy them this book
- Give them a copy of the QuickStart kit
- Lend them your copy of this book
- Numbers tell and sell the story (saving 5 percent of customers will increase profits by 25-100 percent.
- Expose them to the realities of the current customer experience
- Improve the customer experience without asking for approval
If Comcast Can Do It, So Can You
Comcast has been one of the worst customer service companies until recently. 48% of customers ranked their experience with Comcast as very poor – the lowest score.
They hired a guy to take over Customer Experience. The new guy came from the technology side of the business instead of from the customer experience team. They thought a tech guy might do a better job at watching the customer journey from start to finish. They were right.
He came in. Reviewed all of the departments and realized a lot of break downs. Billing, install, onboarding, tech support were all below target. They were transaction based instead of relationship base. They passed the customer off on to different departments that all worked in silos.
After spending time diving deep into learning what was wrong, he started to take action. Created new call centers that handled almost every request a customer would have in their first 90 days instead of transferring the customer to multiple people. They cut their install window in half and paid the customer a $20 credit on their bill if they were a minute late. They created an app where customers could do a lot of the easy tech support themselves. They created a SMS service to keep customers in the loop of relevant info to assist them. They cut billing fees or communicated them better. Lots of improvements.
Scores started to climb and Comcast is doing much better.
The author hopes that by following the steps in this book people will live better lives.
I really liked this book.