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 comments to Do you turn customers into promoters?

  • 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

    • 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?

      • 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

      • 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

      • 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

        • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

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

  • 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…

  • 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

  • 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…

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad we agree Guy. Good points you make.

  • 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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

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

  • 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

  • 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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

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

  • 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”

  • Madge Madigan  says:

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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

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

  • 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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good examples of what to do Jeannette.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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…

    • catarinaalexon  says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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?

  • cheryltherrien  says:

    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.

  • lenie5860  says:

    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.

  • Alice  says:

    I work by referral and give people in my local network a one hour free blog coaching session. After they have seen what I can do they do the promotion for me.
    My recent post I’ll never smile again by Ruth Lowe

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Excellent, Alice. You may beat Apple to it:-)

  • jacquiegum  says:

    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!!!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good luck with the writers conference Jacqueline. Hope you get current customers to promote you! Fingers crossed!

  • Michele Harvey  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Michele, I learnt another thing from Apple. Hence ask customers if they are content wih everything in every sense. So far that's been the case. If I were you I would start by making sure they are content in every way, then ask them if they know anyone who would benefit from seeing you. The scale can come in then. Anyway, it's your business you do whatever you believe is right for you. Good luck!

  • jankedonna  says:

    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.

  • Ken Dowell  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      The best way, in my experience, is to contact customers and make sure they are content in every way. If not, you do something to make them happy. Didn't mention that since I talked about it in another post not too long ago.:-) By the way, power point presentations are becoming a thing of the past.

  • Susan P Cooper  says:

    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.

  • andleebakhlaqkhan  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Sounds like your students are promoting you, Andleeb. Glad that you also promote people who deserve it.

  • Sorgadm  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      That's a good way to get customers to promote you, Sabrina.

  • patweber  says:

    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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good points, Pat. Have no idea if they know each other. Referrals should definitely be regarded as promotions by customers. Good idea to refund customers that complain.

  • pgc4950  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Do the people listening to your voice on radio commercials rekommend the products you talk about to their friends?

  • William Rusho  says:

    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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yep, glad you agree with me, William.

  • bethnieb  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yep, also ask customers if they are satisfied with everything, Beth. So far they have been but if they had even a minor complaint I would do something to compensate them.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Agree with you Donna, that when a customer feels they are being taken advantage of they will never come back.

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