Aligning Marketing and Customer Experience


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Dairy Queen does not often figure into examples of best customer experience. However, the signs of good customer experience principles are outlined in the article, Everything I Need to Know About Marketing I Learned at the Dairy Queen.

More specifically, the author was writing about her local Dairy Queen in Centerville, PA. Not all Dairy Queens fare so well, but hers did. The proof is in the pudding: while other similar businesses have failed, her Dairy Queen is still open and thriving after 25 years.

What caught my eye is that many of the things the author picked up on are foundations of good customer experience:

  1. Thank your customers. This works because it caters to the subconscious needs of your customers. Even if they don’t stop and think “this company values me,” they understand it. This enhances the value of the Customer Experience without your company having to spend a single penny.
  2. Make the customer feel special. Show your clients a commitment to your shared best interests by understanding their needs and wants. Just a small token of appreciation like a bonus gift or a discount on another product will solidify your commitment in their mind.
  3. Put your mark on it. Use the resources you already have – employees and their individual talents are a great place to start – to make your Customer Experience distinct in your field. You have to know your customers and tailor the experience for them based on your own limitations and strengths. If you simply try to apply a copycat-specific formula, all you are doing is burning through cash.
  4. Build your reference network. The obvious place to start today is with social media, but do not forget good old word-of-mouth. In order to do either the absolute key is the ability to listen. It’s not about telling customers about you; it’s about dialogue.
  5. Use word-of-mouth. This is all the rage in customer metrics via Net Promoter Score. The goal of the day for most forward-thinking companies is transforming customers into promoters. You don’t need a degree in rocket science to understand why.
  6. Small daily efforts are more productive than big ones. Businesses often look for that “home run” action that will cure all their woes and make customers huge promoters. It’s not really going to happen. Home runs exist, but they are extremely elusive and costly to plan for. Making a home run your goal is not prudent business sense. What makes more sense is to do the little things that matter consistently well. It should be pointed out that the little things that matter are entirely different from the “little things.” Understanding which things matter should be a primary business objective.
  7. Ask if they would like sprinkles. Understand what your customers like and then cater to that. This way you are reinforcing your existing customers, making their Customer Experience special and increasing revenue. The bottom line here is to know your customer and understand the things that make a difference. Remember, few people will say they go to a Dairy Queen because they have sprinkles.
  8. Have a big sign. It is easily observable that that those companies that work on their customer experience say so and want it to be known. They want to raise the bar to a level the competition finds difficult to deal with.

It is unfortunate that Dairy Queen is not uniformly known for the Centerville, PA type of experience. If it were, perhaps McDonald’s would see Dairy Queen as a chief rival… perhaps this is the greatest lesson of them all.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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