Why do people keep going back to Starbucks, even though (let’s face it) their coffee is not exactly the best in the world? Why do Apple customers swear by their white (and now, gold) and shiny devices, and keep coming back for more every time Apple releases another product? Such customer loyalty borders on fanaticism, and these are exactly the types of die-hard fans companies look out for. How does one earn such amazing customer loyalty? What is the one thing – the secret sauce, as it were – that keeps them coming back again and again?
The answer is simple: Create an unforgettable, personal connection with the customer, and you can be sure that he/she will be your customer for life. In other words, make every customer’s experience personal and hence, memorable. The steps to achieving this, however, are certainly not as simple, and require a measure of persistence and patience to attain. Here’s how your business can create that magical personal touch today.
Create “microinteractions” with your customers
“Microinteraction” is a term coined by Jeannie Walters, a customer experience investigator. It is broadly defined as the small moments that can make or break an experience – in this case, of course, we are referring to the customer experience. In a TEDx talk late last year, she implored the audience to “sweat the small stuff” by making interactions with customers intentional.
Many corporations cry foul when faced with this piece of advice. They complain that they do not have the resources, or the time, to attend to every single customer in any special way. If that was really the case, someone forgot to inform Starbucks, because in spite of their massive size (about 18,000 stores worldwide), they are still able to create incredible “microinteractions” with their customers on a daily basis. Just check out this experience a man had at Starbucks just last year:
The story goes that a man was having a crazy and exhausting summer. One particular day, prepping himself for a long day of work, he decided to upsize his Starbucks coffee to a Grande. When he received his coffee, there was a note on his cup:
“Hope your Day gets better :)”
And so an exchange began between the barista and the man via cup messages. Back and forth they went, and the man unwittingly became a die-hard fan of Starbucks (check out their conversation here).
If Starbucks can do it, so can your company. It all starts with the decision to be intentional in deliberately reaching out to customers, one at a time. With that decision made, it is imperative that everyone in the company, right down to the frontline staff (especially them) is on board with it. That is why it is necessary to…
Empower your customer service representatives (or frontline employees)
Actual interaction with customers always occurs on the ground level. In fact, most legendary customer service stories feature an amazingly helpful employee going out of his/her way to get something done for the customer. If you want your employees to consistently delight the customer, a ‘free’ culture is absolutely essential.
What is a ‘free’ culture? Simply put, it is a learning environment where customer service representatives feel empowered to try new things, and learn from each other’s successes and failures.
A great example of this culture at work would be at Zappos, where they have successfully created a culture where employees know clearly that they have the autonomy to innovate and do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer. This is the reason why “Zappos” and “excellent customer service” are always mentioned in the same breath – it is hardwired into their DNA, and their employees know this. They are sufficiently empowered to delight the customer.
All in all, make it your business to create Customer Wow
In sum, direct all your efforts to creating customer service that will wow your customer (find out more about Customer Wow here). Your customers are not just statistics or numbers on a screen – they are human beings, and humans crave the human touch. It’s time to get serious about Customer Wow. Delight your customers in a personal way, and they will, of their own accord, give you their utmost loyalty. You can count on it.