Here is the link to an article in Newsday about customer loyalty to which I contributed. http://www.newsday.com/columnists/jamie-herzlich/small-business-customer-loyalty-retention-1.4295932.
Here is the link to an article in Newsday about customer loyalty to which I contributed. http://www.newsday.com/columnists/jamie-herzlich/small-business-customer-loyalty-retention-1.4295932.
This year’s Loyalty Maker® Award goes to the Obama campaign. Here’s why:
Stunningly smart use of voter data helped the Obama campaign win undecided voters and keep past supporters in the tent. Here’s a brief look inside the campaign’s playbook.
• Unified Database. Beginning 18 months before the election, the campaign hired data scientists to build a single massive system that merged the information collected from fund raisers, pollsters, field workers, consumer data bases and social media with the main Democratic voter files.
• Cookie Trail. Since the 2008 election, the campaign used cookies to track Obama supporters on line, factoring in 80 pieces of information about each person from age, sex, race to voting history.
• Insight. The campaign’s chief data scientist, Rayid Ghani, gained recognition at Accenture for his ability to filter large amounts of transaction data through algorithms to “understand” why customers buy. He applied this same approach to massive voter data to discern what messages appealed to what voters.
• Persuasion. Multivariate tests identified issues and positions that could shift undecided voters. Using “persuasion scores” the campaign focused its volunteer calls and other outreach efforts on those voters likely to change their minds as a result. Likewise, these tests also guided the choice on which policy messages individual voters should be exposed to.
Data In Action:
A $40,000-a-ticket email inviting Obama supporters to dinner in June at the New York home of Sarah Jessica Parker had seven versions: some mentioning another fund-raiser that night—a concert by Mariah Carey; others mention Ms. Parker was a mother, and still others that Anna Wintour, Vogue editor, would be at the dinner. Who got which email? Information about each fundraising prospect and their probable reaction to different messages drove the decision.
Loyalty Maker® Lesson:
Whether wooing voters or customers, data matters. It’s the new frontier for creating customized experiences and winning deep-seated loyalty.
Start now to think carefully about what customer data you need and how to get it.
It’s a lesson the Romney campaign learned the hard way.
Jill Griffin is a “Harvard Working Knowledge” author of three books on customer loyalty. She serves as public board director for Luby’s Cafeterias, Fuddruckers and Jimmy Buffets’ Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants. Microsoft, Dell, Marriott Hotels, Ford, Toyota, Wells Fargo, IBM, Subaru are a few of the clients served since she hung out her “Loyalty Maker” shingle in 1988. Jill delivers customized keynotes worldwide.
My middle name is “travel.” This summer my destinations were Budapest, Vienna and Prague. I came back counting my “business blessings.” Communism, socialism, and dictatorships have costs the people in these countries so much!
My dad was a WWII vet and fought in a later wave of the Normandy invasion. I remember as a child sitting with him at our kitchen table overlooking our grassy backyard which had a clothes line, a dog house and sand box. He commented on how “beautiful” it all was. At the time, I didn’t “get” it. But now I do. America is a wonderful place to call home and millions around the world would trade places with us in a second. God bless the USA!
My dad was a “people person” of the first order.
Among his proudest possessions was the official photograph of Army Unit 1102 in which he served as Corporal during World War II. The photo was shot on a rainy September day in 1943, days before the men shipped off to France. On the picture’s front, my dad numbered many of the men and on the back of the glossy photo he wrote amusing notes about them. Here’s a few examples:
-”The man who kissed the wrong woman.”
-”The gunner of all gunners.”
-”A hell of a guy…the bugeler.”
-”The best damn baker in all the outfit.”
-”Had much rather be in Tennessee hills having cornbread and water with no puffed wheat.”
Only a true “people-person” would search out such funny and kind-hearted observation and record them. His humorous, light-hearted tone left no mistake—he was deeply fond of his fellow soldiers and, no doubt, was a better Corporal because of it.
This week I had the privilege to address “Women in Lodging” at their annual convention in Houston. I shared the wise words of Barbara Talbott, EVP of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts who I quoted in my newest book, Taming the Search & Switch Customer. Says Barbara:
“Whenever the topic of customer service is broached, people always ask us about our training. We respond by talking about recruitment. There is an aspect of good customer service that’s un-teachable. It really comes down to how we select our employees. We believe that there are certain attitudes that some people bring to their job that predispose them to being an effective deliverer of service. [Those include] kindness, helpfulness, a genuine desire to see other people happy and taking pride in doing things well.”
Loyalty lesson: Get the right person with the right temperament and clients (and co-workers) will notice.”
Steve Jobs recent departure from Apple makes me sad.
I wrote my first loyalty book on a MacIntosh computer in the early 90’s. I still remember the thrill of cutting and pasting text and peering at it in, what at the time, was considered an amply-sized window! I told friends that, thanks to the Mac my writing method was to dump text in a chapter file and slowly start to weave the information into a coherent chapter. I likened it to watching my grandmother make biscuits as a child. First she’d pour in all the ingredients, mix them together, knead the bread, roll it out and then cut the dough into biscuits.
I remember writing my first chapter (actually Chapter 3) by “kneading the information” and being amazed and surprised by the unexpected topic connections that emerged. The computer’s ability to let me “text dump” made it happen!
Today, I realize Steve Jobs and his programmers were my book writing “wing men” and I’ll always be grateful.
Steve Job’s Back Story
Born in San Francisco in February 1995 to two unmarried graduate students, Steve was put up for adoption within a week of his birth. He was adopted by a blue-collar couple, Paul and Clara Jobs, and the three of them soon moved to Mountain View, California, a rural town full of fruit orchards. The town didn’t stay rural very long – Silicon Valley was born.
As a kid, Steven Paul Jobs was considered by many as a borderline delinquent. “I would have absolutely ended up in jail,” says Jobs, if it wasn’t for two things: My fourth grade teacher who bribed him with candy and money and a down-the street neighbor who got me hooked on the wonders of electronics by giving him Heathkits (hobbyist electronic kits). These kits taught Jobs about the inner workings of products. He discovered that such things as TV’s were not mysteries, but were the results of human creation.
College was a condition of Job’s adoption but he dropped out of Reed College in Oregon after the first semester. He soon returned to California and briefly took a job at Atari to save money for trip to India. Upon his return, he began hanging out with electronics whiz Steve Wozniak who loved to build personal computers but had little interest selling them. Job had other ideas and the two founded Apple on a shoe-string. Jobs sold his Volkswagon microbus Wozniak sold his calculator.
Catching the wave of the early PC revolution, Apple took off like a missile . Says Job, “I was worth over a million dollars when I was 23….and over a hundred million when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.”
Here’s just a few of Job’s contrarian leadership “rules” that help transform Apple prospects into unshakeable loyalists.
What Not To Do
Says John Sculley, Apple’s CEO from 1983 to 1993, “What makes Steve’s methodology different from everybody else’s is that he always believed that the most important decisions you make are not the things that you do, but the things you decide not to do.”
Simple Drives Different
For Steve, product difference is never the goal. In fact, the first iPod had the hardware for FM radio and voice recording, but these features were not implemented because they complicated the device. In Steve’s mind, it was very easy to create a different thing. What was hard was making the product a simple thing. And this striving for simplicity ultimately became the Ipod’s key difference.
Products as Gravitational Force
Says Jobs, “Lots of companies have tons of great engineers and smart people. But ultimately, there needs to be some gravitational force that pulls it all together.” Citing Steve Ballmer (the company’s chief salesman) who took over from Bill Gates (the programmer), Jobs explained that people who built the company in the first place—the product-oriented staffers—tend to be replaced in importance with a sales focus. Says Jobs, “Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason…..But by then the best product people have left, or they’re no longer listened to. And the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn’t.” Apple lost its product-oriented focus in the 80’s when Jobs left Apple, but he restated the product culture in the nick of time, when he returned.
“I want to put a ding in the universe,” says Steve Jobs. His passion, drive for excellence, innovation vision and more make him a stunning example of a Loyalty Maker.
At your next staff meeting, use the above rules as a jump-start on how your firm can think more like Steve. No telling what loyalty-making ideas may come to mind.
My dad died on my parent’s 20th Wedding Anniversary. I was 15. That’s a short time to have a dad. But brief as that was,he gave me many gifts.
He left me with the unmistakeable belief that I could do special things with my life. What a huge thing to impart and in such a short time!
On Father’s Day, I’m saying “Thanks, Dad!” I vow to do my best with the rest of my years to make you proud.
How long does it take the fastest person on the planet to run a mile? Until the mid-fifties, one had ever run a mile in under four minutes; some claimed it was not humanly possible. But in 1954, Roger Bannister broke that barrier forever altering the standards for racers for what was possible. John Walker in 1975 completed a mile in a record 3:50 minutes. Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999 took the record down to 3:43 minutes. Who knows who will be the first person to eclipse the 3:40 mark?
The standards for customer loyalty are a lot like the mile run. The bar gets continually raised on what is required for customers to demonstrate loyalty through their advocacy, repeat business and swiftness to forgive. Research shows customer expectations are 33% higher than a year ago. In other words, what got you a B on your customer’s report card last year will only get you a C this year. Expectations have been elevated by customers demanding greater value for their hard-earned funds. They get a myriad of social network customer reviews continually reshaping how they define value. And, the scary recession has made customers a lot more impatient with even the slightest hiccup.
The “tired and true” approaches for keeping customers loyal won’t work with today’s picky, fickle, vocal, and “all about me” customers. Winning customer loyalty takes service processes that are customer-centric and effortless; frontline employees who are empowered and smart; customer intelligence that is up-to-date and diverse; and, service delivery channels that fit exactly what customers prefer.
Runners did not break time barriers by simply running faster. It came through better training methods, healthier diets, better preparation, and smarter coaching. What can you do to change your approach to winning the race for customer loyalty?
Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do about it. They can be reached at www.wiredanddangerous.com
Do you want OPI red?
That’s the question the pedicurist recently asked me as my feet were luxuriating in a warm whirlpool foot bath and I was comatose in her cushy leather massage chair.
I had answered, “red” to her question, “What color did I want my toes painted?” (Yes, women all over the world face this dilemma everyday! )
But when she said, “Will that be OPI Red, I took note. Ahh….That’s beautiful branding in action, I said to myself.
The American Dream
OPI founder George Schaeffer immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary with his family in 1956. After college, he began his career in the family garment manufacturing business in NYC. Recognizing the amazing opportunity of America’s free enterprise system and a call to “Go west, young man,” George moved his family to California in 1981.
In Los Angeles, George’s success in the beauty industry came with an unlikely start. He purchased a dental supply business called Odontorium Products Inc. George soon realized that the acrylic “porcelains” used to make dentures were similar to, and in fact, better than the materials used by Nail Professionals for crafting acrylic nails.
Partnering with a chemist, George developed what he fondly dubbed his “rubber band special” (an acrylic system for nails—the bottles were held together with a rubber band.) Working out of a tiny two-room office, George peddled his “rubber band special” door-to-door to nail salons in Los Angeles. Once they tried it, nail technicians clamored for more!
The OPI Difference
George saw the opportunity to make OPI stand out. For example, he transformed names like “Pink #2” and “Bright Red #1” into “Coney Island Cotton Candy” and “I’m Not Really a Waitress.” Moreover, under George’s leadership OPI patented the Lacquer Bottle, Ergonomic Cap, and Pro-Wide©Brush designed for ultimate application.
As the company grew, George’s travel schedule grew with it! He annually travelled 100,000 miles meeting with Nail Professionals, listening to their needs, and then spearheading product development to answer those needs. The result? OPI has been granted more than 30 patents for its innovative product ideas, sales grew to $300 million annually and full-time employees grew to 450.
On November 30, 2010 was purchased by cosmetic giant Coty, Inc. in a private sale worth, industry sources say, somewhere between $900 million to a billion.
Loyalty Lesson: Earning customer loyalty requires giving your products and services distinct differences that customers find compelling and relevant.
You must constantly find ways to deliver true value in a way your customers understand and that clearly distinguish your offering from your buyer’s next best buying alternative. That’s one of 5 critical ways to pass your customer’s Worth-It Test.
In your market space, among your customers and prospects, is your brand perceived as “simply Red” or “OPI Red?” What compelling and relevant differences can you bring to your products and services to stand out?
It’s a question well worth pondering.
Last week I travelled to Arkansas to “talk loyalty” with 350 tourism professionals attending the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Most of my audience either owned or managed tourist destinations, lodging, dining or some combination. “Find your firm’s signature story” was one of the loyalty strategies I shared. Customers learn through your story and come to care about your business because of it.
Take resort owner, Jim Gaston. This 69 year old can talk Facebook marketing strategies with the best of us. But Jim’s signature story began more than 50 years ago when his father Al bought 20 acres of White River frontage including six small cottages and six boats. In 1962, Jim (then in his 20′s), took over the operation. “I didn’t have a clue how to grow the business, so I had to learn,” says Jim. And grow it he did!
Today, Gaston White River Resort covers over 400 acres with two miles of river frontage and houses 79 “cottages” ( including a two-story with ten private bedrooms) and a fleet of 70 boats with a massive state-of-the -art dock to hold them. A restaurant, three nature trails, a fly fishing school, swimming p0ol, tennis court, airstrip and conference lodge complete this one-of-a-kind resort.
Says Jim, “People still visit us who were guests of Gaston’s back in 1958. Many of them were children then and now visit us with their children.”
Jim’s secret sauce? “It’s a host of little things that bring people back,” says Jim. For example, if we notice a guest has a flat tire, we get their cars keys and fix it. There are no scared cows in this business.” Wise words from the man who just this month was named Arkansas 2011 Executive of the Year.
What’s your firm’s signature story? It can separate you from your competition while building a pathway to the hearts of your prospects and customers. Bottomline, it helps your buyers care about your cause.
Gather your team and brainstorm on your signature story. Whether you sell healthcare or hamburgers, you have a compelling story to tell.
Then start sharing it with the world!
Already Have A Signature Story? Please tell us!
I come from a lineage of “fighters.” Not the kind that argue, the kind that know what it takes to hold true to a dream and fight for an outcome against great odds.
My maternal grandmother, Ada Faircloth Marsh, was a fighter. As a poor farm girl in eastern North Carolina she finished high school a decade before the Great Depression. Ada was the oldest of three. Her parents were tenant farmers who depended on their children to help in the fields. With school behind her, Ada was destined to pick cotton and harvest tobacco full time.
My grandmother had other ideas. She dreamed of attending college and becoming a teacher….something that farm girls simply did not do. Afterall, ‘Why would any poor family invest money in a daughter?’ went the conventional wisdom of the day. That money was better spent on seed, farming tools and curing barns. Yet, my grandmother held to her dream.
Day after day, out in the fields, Ada begged her “Papa” to send her to a nearby teachers college. And with every no, she’d regroup and ask again, and again, and again. For nearly a year, she pleaded, she made her case, she fought for her future. And finally, she got her yes.
But much hard work lay ahead. Ada went to Pineland Teachers College where she cleaned tables in the dining hall and took on every other odd job she could find to offset tuition. When her sister, Lila, was ready, Ada made way for her, as well.
Back home, the men in the community ridiculed Papa for sending his daughters to college. But, he had the last laugh: Papa was able to get farm loans from the local bank using his daughters’ teacher salaries as collateral.
My grandmother’s 3rd Grade Class, 1959.
Ada and Lila lived fine lives… between the two, they logged more than 70 years of teaching in the North Carolina public school system. And masterful teachers they were!
Loyalty Lesson: In today’s siloed, turf-focused firms, it takes “fighters” to unify the company around the processes and systems that deliver dependable customer experiences. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s typically a long, arduous, uphill path for leaders with the courage to take on the challenge. As my friend and fellow author Jeanne Bliss preaches,“You gotta believe.” And that means relentlessly committing to and fighting for the cause.
The fight is worth it because the emotional payoff is so huge: You can look back with pride and satisfaction in years to come with the knowledge that you gave your all. But, sadly, many feel fear and run from the fight, unable to “man-up” for the hard work required. And by doing so, they remove themselves from any chance of receiving the unimaginable lessons this challenging work will bring.
Don’t retreat. Be a fighter. Commit to the loyalty work.
You’ll grand kids will love your stories!