Tag Archives: loyalty

Customer Retention Outside the Box

I read an interesting piece today by Australian business consultant Peter Shallard, called Repeat Business and Customer Retention Formula Revealed.

He talks about a coffee shop in Sydney that, in addition to serving good coffee in a timely manner (a baseline for any coffee shop), had Polaroid snapshots all over the walls.  The photos are all of dogs, all taken in the cafe, with each pup's name written on the bottom.  Mr. Shallard then looked around at the other patrons, and estimated that 80% of them had dogs with them!  This is when the light bulb went on for him.

This cafe, one of many within the area, had built a loyal clientele by providing a good product with good service, and then combined that with another, unrelated, aspect that many customers were drawn to. 

To Mr. Shallard, and to me, this is brilliant in it simplicity.  For almost any product or service being sold, there are no doubt dozens, if not hundreds of other competitors selling the same thing.  Quality, price, service, and locale may not be enough to win a customer's loyalty.  But combining a business' primary product with another unrelated (but interesting) concept may seal the deal for certain customers to whom that unrelated concept appeals.

I imagine this was the thinking behind the first sports bar.  People get thirsty and hungry, so let's open an establishment to provide them beverages and food.  But wait, many people like sports, too, so lets decorate the place with sports memorabilia, and put a bunch of strategically-placed TVs throughout, showing sporting events or sports-related programming! Genius!

So, let's look at our own businesses.  We all work hard to provide a quality product and great service.  But what else can we add to that, that will appeal to a significant segment of our buying audience?  It doesn't have to be big, expensive, or complicated.  Polaroid snapshots of dogs on the wall – hello?

This is a great way to increase customer loyalty and retention, and have fun while doing it!  What a concept!  What can you add to your business to lock in loyalty from a significant segment of your prospects?  Please comment and share your ideas, and feel free to link to your site!

Apple – A Company that “Gets” Its Customers

While we are not currently Mac or iPod or iPhone users, we have a lot of respect for companies that focus on their customers, and inspire loyalty from them. 

Fellow blogger Rich McIver, in his blog InsideCRM, writes about this in his entry 12 Effective Strategies Apple Uses to Create Loyal CustomersHe discusses some of the techniques used by Apple to create customer evangelists.

    — Chuck Dennis

Jet Blue: A Little Lovin’ Goes a Long Way

It’s a well-known postulate in the world of customer service, that a customer who has had a negative experience quickly and sufficiently remedied by the offending business tends to be even more loyal to that business than the customer who has never, ever had a negative experience with them.  When I first heard that, I laughed, “Yeah, so if someone smacks me in the face, then says he’s sorry – I’m gonna like him better than somebody else who never smacked me?  Yeah, right.”

Leave it to me to reduce business concepts to smacking.

But in business, it makes sense – the loyalty thing, not the smacking.  Customers’ great fear is that they get “taken” – that they provide their hard-earned cash, and in exchange they get less than dollar value in return.  This is one of the reasons customers fly into rages so quickly when something goes wrong in their interaction.  They sense they are going to get reamed, and they are not happy about that.

But, if they have had a problem already successfully resolved by a business, the customer then has his fears alleviated a bit by the business’ past performance.  There is a comfort level, and a confidence that, regardless of what might happen, things will be resolved amicably.  There is trust.

Whereas, if a customer has only seen a business perform when all is well, he/she has no idea how they may react under pressure.  And all it takes is one bad situation to turn away a customer for life.

So this brings me back to the Jet Blue St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where an otherwise customer-focused business just sort of melted down, and 1000 flights had to be canceled, including several that had customers effectively imprisoned on the tarmac for 8-10 hours.  Surely, this was a back-breaking situation for the airline, which had spent considerable time and energy building up a strong reputation for customer care.

But looky here!  It seems as though the efforts Jet Blue had put into customer focus before this fiasco, as well as their swift attempts to remedy the ill-will created by it, have paid off.  A recent survey of travelers conducted by Compete, Inc. showed that 14% are actually more inclined to fly Jet Blue since the Valentine’s Day melt-down and subsequent recovery and re-commitment to service that the company and its CEO have pledged.  This is in addition to the 56% of travelers whose belief in Jet Blue never wavered in the wake of this service nightmare.

When a service horror story that gains global notoriety hits your business, yet 70% of your market still believes in you, THAT shows you the true value of  customer focus.

— Chuck Dennis

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