5 Top Customer Service Articles For the Week of July 9, 2012

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Each week I read a number of articles from various online resources. Here are my top five picks from last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

How companies become cults by Michael Hess

(CBS MoneyWatch) Just about the best possible thing that can happen to any business is to build a cult following, as these companies and others have done. Intense customer loyalty provides great job security, increases customer spending, reduces price pressure (other than in the rare situations where the following is built mainly around cheap prices), and promotes extraordinary, evangelical word-of-mouth that’s more valuable than any advertising.

My Comment: Creating a “Cult of the Customer” is not out of the question. All of the ideas you have listed support the effort. Years ago I identified five phases or “cults” that customers go through on their way to what I refer to as the ultimate cult: the Cult of Amazement.

First is to get out of uncertainty – customers need to know what to expect, and the first time they do business with you they can only hope for a good experience. Second is Alignment – customers know what to expect because the company’s promise over and over, it is consistent and becomes owned. And fifth is Amazement – when the owned experience is consistently better than average, the company is operating in the Cult of Amazement.

Yes, my comment is a little long, but the article hit a positive chord, and I felt compelled to share my thoughts about “How Companies Become Cults.”

Top CEOs Share Their Best Practices For Exceptional Customer Service by Robert Reiss

(Forbes) As corporations seek new ways to connect with customers, I set out to uncover insights from some of the top CEOs. Interestingly what emerged are some unexpected answers, like the value of simplicity and the power of the handwritten letter – both of which have elevated in importance in a complex fast-moving digital world.

Specifically, on June 7, 2012 I held a discussion with three CEOs who are leaders in connecting with customers.

My Comment: What’s especially great about this article is that the three CEO’s come from completely different types of businesses. I only wish there were ten more questions!

10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People by Jeff Haden

(Inc.) Charisma isn’t something you have. It’s something you earn. Here’s how.

My Comment: These are words – actually habits – to live by. Anyone in a business or personal relationship can benefit by doing any and all of the habits on this list. I would add one more, which is to be respectful of everyone: Say please, thank you and always be on time.

5 Best Practices For Loyalty Programs by Don Peppers

(Fast Company) If you’re thinking about a loyalty program for your business, or if you’re trying to evaluate or upgrade your current one, this quick checklist will help you get the most out of it.

My Comment: All five of the strategies in this article make perfect sense. The key is that once customers join the loyalty program, don’t take them for granted. Too many companies are focused on growing the program in terms of number of members. Just because a customer is a member of the loyalty program, doesn’t mean they are a loyal customer. Use the program to develop and nurture a relationship with them – to really make them loyal.

How Social Media Amps Up the Value of a Customer by Anthony Leaper

(Forbes) The other week my colleague Vinay Iyer posted a blog that looked at how a company might use social media to improve its relationships with their customers. Some companies are already doing this, but it’s also clear that some companies also have a learning curve here about what constitutes a service that customers value and what constitutes stalking.

My Comment: Great article that puts a price tag on those unhappy customers who talk to others through social media channels. Used to be the average dissatisfied customer would tell 8-12 people about a problem they had with a company. 13% would tell 20 or more. But, with social media, the game has changed. The role model is Dave Caroll, a song writer who watched his guitar get damaged by the airlines. He couldn’t get satisfaction so he wrote a song and posted it on YouTube. It went viral with over twelve million views!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.

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