Who are our customers? This is a common question among business people and a very valuable one. The answer to this can help us design a marketing strategy that is truly based on “understanding people.” The key to understanding is to ask questions. One of the most important being..
What do our customers want?
I did a little search around the blog-o-sphere this morning and discovered a great site entitled “Church of the Customer” by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. Their blog is dedicated to word of mouth, customer evangelism and citizen marketers. I found the concept of customer evangelism a fascinating one. As they describe it it is..
When customers are truly thrilled about their experience with your product or service, they can become outspoken “evangelists” for your company. This group of satisfied believers can be converted into a potent marketing force to grow your universe of customers.
What a great way to grow your business. I dug a little deeper and found they have a free PDF listed on ChangeThis.com that you can download that gives more detail on the concept. In an excerpt they explain how Southwest Airlines have created an army of evangelists…
A customer evangelist not only purchases from you regularly, she feels compelled to tell others. Ann McGee-Cooper honestly considers Southwest part of her family. This doesn’t mean that Southwest is for everyone; it has its share of detractors who don’t care for its policies of no-reserved seats and low frills.
But your business isn’t for everyone, either.
What makes Southwest and other companies with dedicated armies of evangelists stand apart from their competitors?They have crossed the emotional chasm that separates most businesses with customers.Their customers believe. They don’t do it with trickery, or by having the lowest prices, or the fanciest web site.They do it by being authentic.
Southwest’s executives boil it down to “doing business by the Golden Rule.” In almost every example we’ve found, it’s the opposite of what most people consider a professional “corporate” relationship.
TO UNDERSTAND HOW A CUSTOMER EVANGELIST BEHAVES, HERE ARE SOME CLUES:
o They passionately recommend your company to friends, neighbors and colleagues.
o They believe in the company and its people.
o They purchase your products and services as gifts.
o They provide unsolicited praise or suggestions of improvement.
o They forgive occasional sub-par seasons or dips in customer service.
o They do not want to be bought; they extol your virtues freely.
o They feel part of something bigger than themselves.
The lessons from the original evangelists-the religious believers who roamed the back ways of the world to spread the word of their faith – teach us that beliefs are based on emotional connection, deep-seated convictions and the promise of a better way. Strongly held beliefs compel many of us to tell others. The root of the word “evangelist” is based on “a bringer of the glad tidings.”
So now that we know what a customer evangelist is how do we create an atmosphere where they can flourish? From their research into the best practices of some of the most forward-thinking companies with legions of evangelists who spread the word, McConnell and Huba outline and explain the six basic tenets of creating customer evangelists:
1. Customer plus-delta: Continuously gather customer feedback.
2. Napsterize knowledge: Make it a point to share knowledge freely.
3. Build the buzz: Expertly build word-of-mouth networks.
4. Create community: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.
5. Make bite-size chunks: Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite.
6. Create a cause: Focus on making the world, or your industry, better.
McConnell and Huba profile highly successful companies on their blog and illustrate these tenets and prove how solid customer relationships build and sustain companies through good and rocky times. These in-depth company profiles provide real-life examples of evangelism marketing at work, including the opportunities and pitfalls of specific campaigns.
I found these concepts to be outstanding and they will go a long ways in helping us discover just who our customers are.
Ben & Jackie have a podcast out today that is well worth the listen. Download it and tune in…