Turning your customers into a horde of zombie loyalists – Interview with Peter Shankman


Share on LinkedIn


Today’s interview is with Peter Shankman, an author, entrepreneur, speaker, and worldwide connector. Peter joins me today to talk about his new book: Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans, a book about how to create fans that not only keep returning to do business with you but also help you massively grow your customer base, brand awareness and revenue.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Are you making it hard for your customers to give you feedback? – Interview with Gizlo – and is number 136 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.

Zombie LoyalistsHighlights from my interview with Peter:

  • Peter believes that the economy of the next 50 years is going to be driven by the ‘customer’.
  • The book focuses on the basics and helping you do that so right that your customers do your PR and marketing for you.
  • 80% of all firms believe that they deliver great service or a great customer experience. However, only 8% of their customers agree.
  • Peter puts this largely down to the fact that companies, especially CEOs, do not talk and listen to people on their front lines.
  • This could be helped by CEOs and senior execs spending more time working on the front-line.
  • Peter cites an example of when he worked for America Online, in their newsroom, and they were required to spend a day a month in customer support just so they would have a clearer idea of what customers were dealing with. For example, in the newsroom they were operating on T1/T3 lines where most of their customers were still using 1,200 baud dial-up modems. As a result, they learned how to think through the eyes of the customer.
  • Zombie loyalists are incredible as their only purpose is to return to that business as much as humanly possible and to bring friends along with them.
  • However, this is not undying and blind loyalty and zombie loyalists will hold you to account, and potentially devour you, if you don’t do the right thing.
  • To create your own ‘horde’ of zombie loyalists, first focus on what your customers need and then give them what they need such that it makes their lives a little better than expected.
  • Peter’s assumption is that, generally, we expect to be treated like ‘crap’. Therefore, if you can treat your customers one level above ‘crap’ they will come back. But, if you treat them well then they will tell the world.
  • The internet is powered by bragging and drama. Which one do you want?
  • Peter cites the example of DBK, a construction company in NE America, who is doing things a bit differently and in the process is creating their own horde of zombie loyalists.
    • For example, when they take on a home improvement or renovation project they secretly take pictures of the whole project from start to finish. When the project is finished they then present these photos to their customer in a beautifully presented photo-book so they can see the development of the whole project. This little thing, that they don’t charge for, amazes their customers and results in them showing their book to all of their friends and, thus, they start promoting DBK.
  • Peter tells a second story about the positive impact that is created when a CEO gets personally involved.
    • In this instance, Peter tells a story of a woman that, years ago, was turned down for a Tiffany’s charge card because they thought she was too young. However, she went on to write to the CEO explaining the situation and he personally replied with two words ‘Will open’. Today, years later, she has that letter framed and she now heads up a multi-million dollar software company. How much money do you think she has spent at Tiffany’s over the years? Also, how many people do you think she has told about her experience?
  • All very simple things.
  • Just because there are lots of new things around that does not mean that you should get rid of the old things.
  • To start, ask yourself what you can do that will make you or the lives of your customers 1% better.
  • The best piece of advice is this: Most people are not doing it well so take a minute and ask yourself how you can be just a little bit better.
  • Check out Peter’s book here: Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans and also the book’s website: www.zombieloyalists.com
  • Finally, take a moment and have a look at www.shankminds.com, a business mastermind series that is running in locations all across the world .

About Peter (adapted from his website bio)

Peter ShankmanAn author, entrepreneur, speaker, and worldwide connector, Peter is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about Customer Service, Social Media, PR, marketing and advertising.

Peter is best known for founding Help A Reporter Out, (HARO) which in under a year became the de-facto standard for thousands of journalists looking for sources on deadline, offering them more than 200,000 sources around the world looking to be quoted in the media. HARO is currently the largest free source repository in the world, sending out over 1,500 queries from worldwide media each week. HARO’s tagline, “Everyone is an Expert at Something”, proves over and over again to be true, as thousands of new members join at helpareporter.com each week. In June of 2010, less than two years after Peter started HARO in his apartment, it was acquired by Vocus, Inc.

Peter is the founder of ShankMinds: Business Masterminds, a series of small business entrepreneurial-style masterminds in over 25 cities worldwide.

Additionally, Peter is also the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique Social Media, Marketing and PR Strategy firm located in New York City, with clients worldwide. His blog, which he launched in 1995 at www.shankman.com, both comments on and generates news and conversation.

Peter is the author of four books:

Born and raised in New York City, Peter still resides there with his beautiful wife and daughter, and NASA the Wonder Cat, all of whom consistently deny his repeated requests to relinquish the couch. In the few hours of spare time Peter has per month he’s completed 13 marathons, seven Olympic distance triathlons, two half-Ironman triathlons, and one full Ironman Triathlon. He’s also a “B” licensed skydiver with over 400 jumps.

In 2011, Peter authored a tweet that was voted as one of the Top Ten Tweets of the year by Twitter, out of more than 160,000,000,000 tweets sent.

Find out more about Peter via his website bio.

You can also find him on Twitter @petershankman and on LinkedIn here.

Photo Credit: Ian Aberle via Compfight cc

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


  1. The ability to ensure that the company from the CEOs to the employees go above treating employees like crap is vitally important. A local body shop managed to make a zombie out of me when he volunteered a small fix that would allow me to eliminate the cost of replacing the fender. It bypassed the little voice in my head that’s wondered if other car shops were cheating me.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here