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.

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

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42 Responses to “Do you turn customers into promoters?”

  1. Leora Says:

    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. catarinaalexon Says:

    Leora, life has no guarantees. If a customer actually does recommend a company or not is impossible to know. If they are content with their whole experience with the company including the product or service there is a high likelyhood they will. In Apple's case, they have been promoted by their customers for a long time. It's almost like a following when it comes to buying everything new that Apple launches.

    To call customers that are not content is something all companies should do.

    Would be interesting to know if you do anything to get your customers to promote your services, Leora? If not, maybe it would be a good idea to come up with a version of what Apple are doing and see how it works out?

  3. Leora Says:

    Catarina,

    As my business is one on one with a business person, it's often a matter of getting the right timing to ask. For example, one of my longest and best clients recently wrote a LinkedIn recommendation for me because I asked. But if you ask a business customer during a busy period, that could be a turn off. Instead, I say feel free to refer me as the topic comes up. Much of my business is through word of mouth (others see my sites and then inquire).

    I'm watching how my clients handle this idea of getting the clients to promote, to learn how they are doing so and how they could improve. That's what I would like to learn more – how to get the customers to promote in a non-intrusive manner (of the business to consumers businesses).

    When you share a video and ask others to share it, you see the results. I understand what you are saying – you can't get this exact with general promotion to friends stats.
    My recent post 6 Online Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

  4. Leora Says:

    Catarina,

    As my business is one on one with a business person, it's often a matter of getting the right timing to ask. For example, one of my longest and best clients recently wrote a LinkedIn recommendation for me because I asked. But if you ask a business customer during a busy period, that could be a turn off. Instead, I say feel free to refer me as the topic comes up. Much of my business is through word of mouth (others see my sites and then inquire).

    I'm watching how my clients handle this idea of getting the clients to promote, to learn how they are doing so and how they could improve. That's what I would like to learn more – how to get the customers to promote in a non-intrusive manner (of the business to consumers businesses).

    When you share a video and ask others to share it, you see the results. I understand what you are saying – you can't get this exact with general promotion to friends stats.
    My recent post 6 Online Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

  5. Leora Says:

    Catarina,

    As my business is one on one with a business person, it's often a matter of getting the right timing to ask. For example, one of my longest and best clients recently wrote a LinkedIn recommendation for me because I asked. But if you ask a business customer during a busy period, that could be a turn off. Instead, I say feel free to refer me as the topic comes up. Much of my business is through word of mouth (others see my sites and then inquire).

    I'm watching how my clients handle this idea of getting the clients to promote, to learn how they are doing so and how they could improve. That's what I would like to learn more – how to get the customers to promote in a non-intrusive manner (of the business to consumers businesses).

    When you share a video and ask others to share it, you see the results. I understand what you are saying – you can't get this exact with general promotion to friends stats.
    My recent post 6 Online Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

  6. keepupweb Says:

    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

  7. keepupweb Says:

    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

  8. keepupweb Says:

    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

  9. Geek Girl Says:

    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…

  10. catarinaalexon Says:

    Excellent example of how to keep customers happy and turn them into promoters, Sherryl. You are really doing a great job!

  11. catarinaalexon Says:

    Leora, how to get your customers to promote you in a non-intrusive manner varies from customer to customer. What works for one doesn't work for another. I think what Sherryl does is a great idea. If your clients feel thery are getting more than they expected they are likely to recommend you. Personally have thoughout my career found that it's essential to treat every customer in a way that is unique for them. Small things like remembering that they mentioned their child had a birthday makes a huge difference. Remembering something like that will get you more recommendations than anything. Natrurally, they have to be super content with our products and services.

  12. catarinaalexon Says:

    Spot on Cheryl!

  13. becc03 Says:

    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

  14. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good for your husband, Becc.

  15. GuyW Says:

    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…

  16. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Guy. Good points you make.

  17. msjenniferwoodard Says:

    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

  18. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you. Jennifer. Great comment points that I very much agree with.

  19. Kelly Wade Says:

    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

  20. Susan Oakes Says:

    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.

  21. JeriWB Says:

    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

  22. findingourwaynow Says:

    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

  23. Heather Stone Says:

    Catarina,
    I love this video! What a great way to handle customer service. It also happens to be the cheapest and most efficient kind of marketing around. Thanks for sharing this great post with the BizSugar community.
    My recent post Proper Working Conditions in Relation to Productivity

  24. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Heather. Glad you like it. Agree with the points you are making about customer service.

  25. catarinaalexon Says:

    What a coincidence Susan. Apple really does a great job of enriching their customer and company. All companies should follow suit.

  26. akandrewwriter Says:

    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”

  27. catarinaalexon Says:

    Spot on A.K.!!

  28. Madge Madigan Says:

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

  29. Jeannette Paladino Says:

    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

  30. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Madge. Sometimes it can be that simple:-)

  31. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good examples of what to do Jeannette.

  32. Doreen Pendgracs Says:

    Interesting post, Catarina.

    I don't have any employees, but I do have lots of readers of my blogs and my online community, whom I hope will turn into customers when my book is published. I've worked hard to develop and nurture those relationships.
    My recent post cacao cuisine is king at Hotel Chocolat Boucan

  33. Doreen Pendgracs Says:

    Interesting post, Catarina.

    I don't have any employees, but I do have lots of readers of my blogs and my online community, whom I hope will turn into customers when my book is published. I've worked hard to develop and nurture those relationships.
    My recent post cacao cuisine is king at Hotel Chocolat Boucan

  34. Doreen Pendgracs Says:

    Interesting post, Catarina.

    I don't have any employees, but I do have lots of readers of my blogs and my online community, whom I hope will turn into customers when my book is published. I've worked hard to develop and nurture those relationships.
    My recent post cacao cuisine is king at Hotel Chocolat Boucan

  35. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good for you Doreen.

  36. Evan Says:

    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

  37. Mark Brody Says:

    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…

  38. catarinaalexon Says:

    My pleasure Mark. Customers "rule" so it's important to make them ambassadors for what we do.

  39. Valerie Remy-Milora Says:

    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.

  40. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like my post, Valerie.

  41. Laura Sherman Says:

    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!

  42. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Laura. Making sure your customers are satisfied with every aspect of you and your company is essential. How can they recommend you if they are not?

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