Do you turn customers into promoters?

Apple does, maybe it would benefit you as well? In this short video Fred Reichheld, fellow and founder of the loyalty practice at Bain & Company, tells you how Apple builds loyalty:

Have you developed a system to help you focus all employees on making customers come back for more and bring their friends? If not, it is definitely worth while. Not only will your customers by happy, you and your employees will feel energized and proud of the way you treat customers.

Are you, like Apple, obsessed with enriching the lives of your customers?

And serious enough to want to measure how well you are doing in that respect? Sample customers on a daily basis and measure feedback consistency. What you need to know  is if your customers have had a good experience and would recommend you to a friend. It’s simple really. Just ask them if they are content with everything and if so why. And if they are not, find out what does not meet with their approval and why.

promoters

Apologize when necessary

With the feedback in hand you/the managers then call discontent customers and attempt to change their mind. Discuss the root of the problem and try to find a solution. If necessary apologize.

On a daily basis look at the feedback customers have given so that you can learn from the problems and celebrate successes.  Make staff that have been really appreciated by customers explain to their colleagues what they did to make their customers so content.

When you are listening and driving innovation based on customer feedback suddenly you are, like Apple, enriching peoples’ lives. Maybe the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your employees is to put them in a position where they can earn customers appreciation and be rewarded for it?

When Richard Branson a long time ago was selling records out of his car booth he had a firm belief that the customer is always right. So when someone complained and wanted to return something he gave them their money back. Sometimes it really hurt his pocket but in the long run it paid off.

Do you turn your customers into promoters? How do you find out if your customers are happy with all aspects of their experience with you and your company? When someone complains how do you handle it? Do you celebrate when customers tell you they are happy dealing with you? Are you good at apologizing? Do you have loyal customers? If not, what are you going to do about it? How have you managed to retain your customers and make them recommend you?

Video: HarvardBusiness

70 thoughts on “Do you turn customers into promoters?

  1. It certainly all sounds good – turning customers into promoters. I am wondering about Apple's method of doing this – people may give a 9 or a 10 as to recommending their friends, but do they really do so? I think I was looking for more of ways that customers are actually promoters instead of just saying they are promoters. The idea that the Apple staff are supposed to call those who had a less than stellar experience sounds like good business practice in general.
    My recent post 6 Online Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

  2. Catarina,
    I think the biggest proof that a client is happy is when they recommend me to someone. I have several clients who know each other and all of them started with a recommendation from one client.

    In a business where you work one-on-one, the key to keeping your clients happy is to first deliver the expected results and second to exceed their expectations. One thing that I've always done is to keep my clients in the back of my mind. When I come upon articles and resources that I feel that my client(s) would benefit from, I send them an email. This helps reinforce that connection while at the same time helps building that top-of-mind awareness that we all need.
    My recent post The New Wave – Learn the Latest Inbound Marketing Trends

  3. Catarina,
    I think the biggest proof that a client is happy is when they recommend me to someone. I have several clients who know each other and all of them started with a recommendation from one client.

    In a business where you work one-on-one, the key to keeping your clients happy is to first deliver the expected results and second to exceed their expectations. One thing that I've always done is to keep my clients in the back of my mind. When I come upon articles and resources that I feel that my client(s) would benefit from, I send them an email. This helps reinforce that connection while at the same time helps building that top-of-mind awareness that we all need.
    My recent post The New Wave – Learn the Latest Inbound Marketing Trends

  4. Catarina,
    I think the biggest proof that a client is happy is when they recommend me to someone. I have several clients who know each other and all of them started with a recommendation from one client.

    In a business where you work one-on-one, the key to keeping your clients happy is to first deliver the expected results and second to exceed their expectations. One thing that I've always done is to keep my clients in the back of my mind. When I come upon articles and resources that I feel that my client(s) would benefit from, I send them an email. This helps reinforce that connection while at the same time helps building that top-of-mind awareness that we all need.
    My recent post The New Wave – Learn the Latest Inbound Marketing Trends

  5. Apple does the best job at this of any company I know. Their customers get a rumor of what might be a new product coming out, or an upgrade on an existing product, and they are already standing in line waiting for it. They encourage their friends to stand in line and wait for it. They truly are a good example of a company doing this right.
    My recent post The Winners of “D.R.E.A.M. Catchers” by Cheryl Therrien & Susan Cooper Are…

  6. I'm not sure how I can relate this to my blog as it is not strictly a customer based business (yet). However, my husband has customers and I think he seems to be doing everything right 🙂
    My recent post Affordable Organic Health Option and a Giveaway

  7. The ultimate goal is to turn customers into promoters, or advocates, of your business. Yet all too few do so – forgetting that unhappy customers can cost a great deal as they talk about their experience with others.

    Conversely, finding an unhappy customer and addressing their grievance can turn them into very strong advocates. Studies show that customers of a business that had a problem which was resolved quickly almost always rated that business more highly – and spoke of it with more people – that customers of a business that always seemed to do everything right.

    Moral of the story for a business is always fix your customers' problems and you will ensure plenty of advocates for it…

  8. Catarina,

    Great as always. I would love to build the kind of following that Apple has, I'm sure that all businesses would love to do this. I am not into Apple myself, but those who are are usually raving fans. I give them credit, people don't care the cost, will wait in line for days and rave about their products. My hats off to Apple.

    Jenn
    My recent post What if Martin Luther King Jr. were a Blogger

  9. Great topic. Its become a lot easier in recent years to gauge the level of customer satisfaction with the rise of social media. Social media sites, as well as blogs, have opened up the conversation between businesses and customers to be able to voice their opinion about a company or product/service. This makes it even more important to make sure you are keeping those conversations going and ensure you are providing exactly what customers want and need.
    My recent post Proven Remedies That Cure Bloating

  10. Hi Catarina,

    I just finished reading a book about Apple and the enriching is instilled throughout the company and also the customer experience. That way all elements are in place so customers who enjoy the experience and products know that if they recommend it others will also have the experience.

    In many ways in comes done to your process for want of a better word so their are no surprises if recommended. Also feedback is a gift and just asking a few questions can highlight ways to improve or where to focus. A few questions can make all the difference.

  11. As someone who is starting to build a freelance editing and writing reputation, I aim to go above and beyond. I think some of that tendency must be instinctive or tied into how I also tried to present myself as a professional educator. I work hard to promote other writers, and slowly, but also surely, I am reaping the benefits of making connections and seeing recommendations and opportunities come my way. So by the time I get my novel finished and published (either traditionally or self) I will have a base of people in place who are more likely to read my book and hopefully mention it to others. Granted, the time spent on all of this is often more than actual drafting time on the book… 😉
    My recent post Book Review: The Persecution of Mildren Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin

  12. Hi Catarina, The hardest part of learning what a customer really thinks of you, is getting them to really tell you the truth. Many times they will vote with their feet and you may never know why. Conversely they vote by singing your praise. I find if you can talk to a customer and they feel you are sincere in your need to know, they are much more comfortable sharing their true thoughts. That is invaluable information, worth its weight in gold. Then you can truly gain a perspective and turn a customer in to a promoter of your business.

    I only hope that my customers feel that comfort and are willing to tell me what I need to hear not what they think I want to hear. Just my thoughts. 🙂
    My recent post Who Wins A “D.R.E.A.M. Catcher’s” Book?: Book

  13. Apple is the paragon of this strategy , but it should apply to any business. People are very generous in their support if they like a product, but you have to make them feel valued when things go right as well as wrong. Let them know how much you value their business. It's just plain good manners and good sense.
    My recent post The Wit and Wisdom of “Dear Abby”

  14. Building rapport is extremely important but also sometimes it's as simple as saying "tell your friends". Great blog.

  15. One way to keep customers happy and become your promoter is to give something to them without charge. It could be taking them to an industry event. Or simply sending them articles of interest. Or introducing them to people they want to meet. I even send things and do favors for former clients. One day they may come back or refer me to other people.
    My recent post Employees Can Be Your Most Important Change Agents

  16. Thanks for the tips and video. I'm kind of new to this area and every helpful info is always welcome) not that i'm going to involve my customers to promote, no, I'm too green for this, but it is the kind of information that every person connected with commerce should keep in mind!
    My recent post WordPress Hotel Theme Collection 2013

  17. Catarina – Nice post. One thing I have definitely instilled in my contact center is that if we can create ambassadors for what we do internally, it will manifest itself externally. I really enjoyed this post, as it is not always easy to achieve that cultural balance that customers expect.

    Thank you for sharing!
    My recent post A Schoolhouse Rock Moment…

  18. Thanks for this post Catarina!
    Lot's of good info and great practices. My business is brand new but my goal is definitely to enrich my customers lives and help them enrich that of their families. I've surveyed them once with specific questions, but actively respond to comments on my blog daily.

  19. One can really only do well as a business long term if your clients are happy. I wouldn't sleep well at night if a client wasn't satisfied with my work.

    I do think that when a client refers you to their friend, it is a very good sign that they are genuinely pleased with the service. However, if they aren't, you're right that you need to get details so that you can improve the quality of your product.
    My recent post If you put a chess set out, children will be drawn to it!

  20. Apple is still the best example of this. It will be interesting to see the 2015 results from vendors like Apple to see if anything has changed.

  21. Customer satisfaction and feedback is so important to any business, but I also like the idea of recognizing the staff’s contribution to this. There will always be times when a customer feels slighted at which time the ability to offer a sincere apology is crucial. Actually, that last one is probably one of the best ways to have the customer promote your business. A customer who was dissatisfied and who received a sincere apology from upper management will probably talk more about that to others then the customer who was satisfied to begin with.

  22. This is such a key factor! I am encountering this a lot lately for people to register for the writers conference that I helped to found. We are counting on referrals. And we have tightened our focus thanks to feedback from our current customers. Apologize? You bet! But I have found that a lot of principals hesitate doing this, and I really don't understand why…other than ego:) Great Post!!!

  23. This post is helpful to me as a new life transitions coach. My clients have expressed their pleasure at what they receive from our sessions and now I will start asking them on a scale of 1-10 how likely they are to refer other clients, and why.

  24. Good points. If you can create such customer satisfaction that they direct other business your way it’s great. I liked how you asked how one handles complaints or apologies. We had a very bad experience this summer with a window company. Along the way, there were several points they could have easily handled differently and even with initial errors turned us into loyal customers. Instead we felt taken advantage of and that we didn’t really matter. They’re getting no referrals from us.

  25. Some good advice Catarina. I would also suggest that surveying customers is not talking to customers. I've seen too many customer feedback studies that result in nice looking PowerPoint presentations with snappy graphs..which amounted to nothing. If you are going to turn your customers into advocates as you suggest, meet with them and talk to them, don't quantify them.

  26. Getting a customer to trust you and know that you are sincere in your need to know is what gets them to open up. That is the hardest part …learning what a customer really thinks of you. Often times they vote with their feet and leave you wondering why they left. While other times they are singing your praise. Getting to the bottom line of what they really feel is worth its weight in gold giving you a perspective and helping you to turn a simple customer in to a promoter of your business.
    My goal is getting my customers to feel that comfort and willingness to tell me what I need to hear.

  27. Hello Catarina
    Happy New Year.

    It is nice post. I am just reading it and trying to apply on my condition as a teacher. I am not in any kind of business, not even Tuition.
    After leaving my first university in 2010 still when student just recognize me by my name and appreciate it really brings energy. Many student tell me that they love math just because of me and some even pursue higher levels in mathematics.
    Many times my students bring their friends and family members and ask me to help them and I do it and until now for free. I do not know till what time I can continue.
    I am feeling that I will have positive feedback, if ever I decided to go in business. But myself I am promoter of all the people who provide good services. I not only visit them back but also introduce my friends with them.

  28. Great point. I like to go through and determine who were the most outspoken supporters for the year and send them something. And, at the beginning of the year, I like to email updated services to clients and affiliates to remind them of my services. It seems to help.

  29. Valuable insights here Catarina. I wonder if Reichheld knows Tom Peters? Peters is all about service. And it seems Reichheld knows the foundation of GOOD service with his example of Apple.

    You have a lot of questions! Just a couple with my thoughts:

    Do you turn your customers into promoters? I have indeed. When I was training and coaching, most of my clients were from referrals. I'd say that is promoters.

    When someone complains how do you handle it? It bothers me when they do so. I'd rather they do so to my face or via email instead of telling other people behind my back. I can only remember, in 25 years of business, 2 complaints. I handled it directly, and in one case with a full refund. That hurt.

    My recent post After New Years Eve: Celebrate January 2 as Introvert Day

  30. Recording radio or TV commercials for clients I always keep in my mind I’m working for the client and their customers. I do my homework to guarantee I know who their customers are and what my client’s message is. Although what I do is called, voice over, it’s never about the voice.

  31. This goes back to many posts that you had on earlier. It is all about, respecting and listening to your customers. If you take the time to do that, they come back and will promote your business. Too many companies think a transaction is a onetime deal, once they get your money that’s it. I am glad some businesses still treat customers

  32. The best way to find out if clients or customers are happy is simply to ask them. Then you will learn what you are doing right. You’re more likely to have them tell you their complaints without having to ask them. A customer in the hand is worth 2 in the bush, which really works better with birds!!! Anyway, your best source of buyers is the customers you already have. Best to nurture them.

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