Loyalty Is Screwed

Amazon bought my customer loyalty again.

I recently bought a compost tumbler from them. It was a bit smaller than I’d thought. I might need a second.

Putting it together sucked: sixty-two screws and two hours. I had to undo and redo forty minutes of work because the instructions were so bad.

I was almost done…and I was short ten screws.

Arrrggghhhh!

It was Saturday evening Pacific Time, but Amazon’s chat was available without waiting. They couldn’t send me more screws. But here’s what happened then:

A second one for free! Just what I wanted! Consider the power Amazon had in this moment. They radically changed my entire day from one of frustration and disappointment to feeling like I just won a raffle. Did they lose money on the deal? Yes. But they earned customer loyalty.

And now I’m telling my entire community about it. They also bought word-of-mouth advertising.

Have you ever experienced such amazing service from a company that you just had to tell people about it? Or swore you would never go anywhere else?

Do you want to be someone who inspires customer loyalty through amazing and delightful feats?

Customer loyalty is not a good way of thinking–it’s a symptom, an effect. You can’t control that. You can control your level of excellence. I’ve heard many leaders expect customer loyalty out of some sense of obligation, tradition, or even because they’re local. That may have worked in the past, but we live in a “What have you done for me lately?” world, and you can complain about that or use it to drive excellence in your culture.

Customer loyalty implies the relevance of the past and existence of a future, when in one way neither exist.

There is only what you’re doing for your customer–right now.

Besides, unless your delivery process is nearly 100% nailed, you’re wasting advertising dollars making promises you can’t keep. Or worse, growing something that doesn’t work that one day will implode on you.

Because every lead that calls you, walks in your door, goes to your website, etc. deserves to have an extraordinary, hassle-free, exactly as promised experience. If they don’t, you might sell a customer, but you will not create a client.

So depending on your business, you may need to advertise, but your best advertising comes in the form of blowing your customers away with your product or service. In our world of mediocrity, becoming passionately dedicated to giving a customer what they want and constantly seeking to do better is far more effective than advertising.

The reason is because it creates word-of-mouth advertising indirectly and long-term retention directly. Word-of-mouth lead generation spreads exponentially and has immense credibility because you don’t pay anyone to spread the message. And keeping customers longer saves you from having to get new customers.

If we lived in a world where excellence was common and disappointment was rare in business transactions, then advertising might be more important than excellence. But we don’t and so it isn’t.

We live in a world where businesses hone their advertising messages with more attention and drive than they do to improve their products. In other words, there is more time and energy investing in appearing to be excellent than actually being excellent. The result? Look around.

Customers may come to you because of how you appear on the outside, but they will stay with you because of what you are on the inside. You can only fool them, and yourself, for so long. Eventually, you face the inevitable inadequacies in what you have to offer, and why your customer base is too much a revolving door.

Customer Loyalty Is Not a Good Goal: Excellence Is

What makes you better than your competition? What do you offer that no one else does? What makes your customers say “Wow, that was amazing”? If you answer these questions with vague statements like “great service” or “we really care” or “quality,” you have a long way to go.

As a business leader, you must know exactly who your market is, what they need, and what you give them to satisfy that need. You must know every single thing that annoys them in the process of doing business with someone in your industry, and solve that problem for them even if they don’t consciously know it’s a problem.

You have to give them what they’ve always wanted, but possibly never known.

That is service. That is excellence. That is passion and dedication to a craft.

Where does this come from? Simple but not easy.

  1. You must have people for whom excellence is personal. They do it because it’s just how they roll.
  2. If you have employees who do not love excellence, you train them. They learn or they leave. There must be accountability.
  3. You must treat your people enough like adults so they have the power to affect change, exercise their pursuit of excellence in creative ways, and reward them for it.

Too busy to train your people in the principles of excellence, and how and why they should pursue it? I know, that’s why I’m doing it for you. Open to Excellence, the live course, begins Thursday April 27, 2017. Get started for a dollar. Offer expires TODAY (12 am 4/26). Use coupon code ROCKAPRIL and become a total access member here.