You didn´t use the Internet 15 years ago, did you? Twenty years ago you didn´t have a cellular telephone. Both are indispensable to you now, aren´t they? Don´t disregard this next idea until you´ve heard me out? It may be one way to beat your larger competitors who are too enamored of the status quo and too bureaucratic to adapt to new ideas. To do this you must be able to provide legendary customer service. Read on, McDuff…U.S. News And World has an article on customer evangelism. It states:
With corporate evangelism, the goal is to find and identify those customers who are already crazy about your product or service–who are actively talking it up in blogs or Web forums, for instance–and turning them with loads of personal attention into “customer evangelists” who then spread the word to others, who then–well, you get the idea. A more secular term for these superfans is “influentials,” the people the rest of us seek out and trust for advice about what cars, computers, and clothing to buy. So evangelism is a way of actively creating word-of-mouth advertising or marketing, turning your passionate, influential customers into a volunteer sales force. “If word of mouth is the skeleton, then customer evangelism is the soul,” says consultant Ben McConnell. He’s coauthor, along with Jackie Huba, his wife, of Creating Customer Evangelists, a book documenting how companies like Southwest Airlines and Build-A-Bear Workshop have used evangelism to increase sales. Many CEOs see evangelism as a way of getting their corporate message through to an authenticity-craving public that seems ever more immune to traditional mass advertising, especially with the advent of commercial-skipping technology like TiVo. And companies ignore influentials at their own peril, especially the bloggers. “These people can either be evangelists for you or vigilantes against you,” says Huba.
Your customers have passions. One of them could involve your product. As your employees interact with your customers find out how they feel about your product. Ask them if they blog, or are writers (not that the two are exclusive). When your employees have downtime, Google your company and its products. Then do it again adding "+ customer service." Then do it again adding "+ blog." Your goal is to find those people who feel passionately about your products or your company. The article discusses how Vespa Scooters has done this:
Motor-scooter company Vespa recently brought in two fans as unpaid bloggers on its website. “Vespa has incredible fans, and we thought the best approach was to let the customers tell their stories online,” says “micropersuasion” strategist Steve Rubel, whose firm, CooperKatz, was hired by Vespa to do online marketing.
There´s also an excellent blog about customer evangelism written by the folks who wrote the book, "Creating Customer Evangelism," mentioned above. I´ve been reading Church Of The Customer for six months or so and believe it should be required reading for anyone looking to improve their bottom line, especially those who are innovators.
Another blog I´m a fan of, and an example of a customer evangelist´s blog cited in the U.S. News article, is McChronicles, written by a customer who spends a lot of money in McDonalds. Don´t laugh. You should be so fortunate to have customers as passionate about your products as he is about the Golden Arches.
Other blogs I´ve been reading are Return Customer. He´s makes a good point about coordinating your sales from your bricks and mortar locations with your Web sites.
Meanwhile, back at Church of the Customer, see their post on planning for 2006.
"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see."
–John Lennon, from Strawberry Fields Forever