How to win a customer for life–for only $12


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I recently had a problem with a headset purchased nearly a year ago from The automatically adjusting speaker volume resulted in numerous aborted calls. When I called to complain the rep said, “Mr. Bingham, your headset is just barely out of warranty.” I waited for the bad news. And then he surprised me by saying, “But I can imagine how frustrating that must be with such an important piece of equipment. I want you to be happy and I’m going to send out a replacement via FedEx. You should have it the day after tomorrow. Use the enclosed return label and send back the defective unit in the same box.” Later that day I received a shipping notification and a personal follow-up from the rep, and exactly as promised I received the replacement headset.

Such excellent care went above and beyond the minimum they were contractually required. But that wasn’t necessarily what won my loyalty.

Within the box was a handful of Tootsie Rolls and a paper survey, the kind that everyone sends and surely nobody ever reads. Because they had done very well in meeting my needs and even exceeding my expectations, I gave them very high marks on the survey. Deciding to have a bit of fun with them, I answered their open-ended question, “What other suggestions do you have for us to improve?” with the tongue-in-cheek, “I don’t really care for Tootsie Rolls, but Jolly Ranchers, on the other hand…”

Two days later I received another FedEx shipping notification. I was convinced that somehow their systems had screwed up and sent the notification in error, or I was going to have to waste my time calling them to return a duplicate headset. The package was much lighter than before. And it rattled. I opened it to find a very large handful of… Jolly Ranchers.

Some employee read the survey, purchased a bag of Jolly Ranchers on their way home from work, and shipped a handful the next day. I had to laugh, as even though I know very well how this game is played, I felt an intense loyalty to them—I won’t even look anywhere else for phone/headset equipment. Not even for a better price.

Rudy Vidal, CCO Council board member and originator of the Extreme Customer Loyalty initiative at Panasonic, found that the difference between second- and top-box loyalty scores was that customers felt they unexpectedly got something more. As he put it, “it didn’t matter if it was a new car or a lollipop!”

Or in my case, a Jolly Rancher. Of course, the replacement headset may cost some in terms of time/effort to get warranty service from the manufacturer. But the real clincher for me was the fact that someone not only read the survey and took action—they showed thoughtfulness. The Jolly Ranchers probably cost $0.50, and shipping was $11.50. Of course they did everything better than right with the return. But they won my loyalty for $12.

What are you doing to show your customers you are actually listening and responding to their needs and desires?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Curtis Bingham
Curtis Bingham is the world's foremost authority on the customer-centric organization. He was the first to promote the role of chief customer officer as a catalyst for competitive advantage. He is the creator of the first CCO Roadmap and the Customer Centricity Maturity Model. He is the founder of the Chief Customer Officer Council, a powerful and intimate gathering of the world's leading customer executives. As an international speaker, author, and consultant, Curtis is passionate about creating customer strategy to sustainably grow revenue, profit, and loyalty.


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