How do you create an engaged customer base for your business? In other words, how do you create and build and maintain high levels of customer loyalty? Well, fortunately, you know the answer, and it’s called the golden rule, is treat other people the way you would want them to treat you. In fact, if you think of your customers like the most important members of your family, ask yourself, how would I treat somebody that I liked, loved, cared about in this particular situation? I was talking to a group of senior executives who were from the major billion-dollar company and I asked them this question. I said, “How would you approach your customers differently if you loved every single customer?” And the senior executive burst out. He said, “It would change our whole way of doing business. If we loved our customers, it would change the whole way of doing business.”
Now today, because of internet technology, there’s something like 36 million internet businesses, every one of which aside and apart from bricks and mortar business, every one of these businesses is doing everything possible to attract your customers away by offering them more and better products and services, and by treating them better in every way they possibly can. The competition to acquire customers today, and then to build customer loyalty is absolutely unbelievable. But the payoffs are phenomenal. Let me give you a simple example. Apple has developed an incredible technology for, first of all, getting customers, locking them to Apple. And remember Apple was successful for many years as a PC company, computer company, but then PCs became commodities, and the only way you could sell a commodity was by lowering the price. So when Steve Jobs came back into Apple in 1996, 97, the first thing he did, he said, “We’ve got to dramatically reduce our dependence on PCs.”
They had 104 different PC products at that time, and within 24 months, he’d cut out 100 products. He said, “Now that we have extra resources, now we need to develop something brand new.” So they came up with the iPod, but remember they weren’t the first with the iPod. There are two or three other companies that had iPod like devices, but what they came up with was the idea of ordering music one song at a time, and they created iTunes to make it possible. Then they went to the music industry and they entered into contracts so the music industry would provide them with the songs which people could buy on iTunes, and then they also made it possible for people to upload all of their music onto the iPod and carry it around with them. What was their motto? 1,000 songs in your pocket.
Now, Gateway Computer was an equally competitive company and looked to be the runaway company, but Gateway treated its customers as they were secondary. Gateway thought, “Hey, we’re so good. We’re so great. People will buy from us no matter what.” Whereas Apple focused on attracting its customers and holding onto them into the iPhone and to the iPad, and then through all of the additional technologies, which makes Apple the biggest and most profitable company in the history of the world.
Now, Tesla is now doing the same thing with General Motors. We shall see how successful it was. Tesla says they’re going to sell 500,000 cars per year by 2020. Last month they sold 80 with their particular new technology and their idea of selling directly to the customer rather than General Motors who sell through dealerships who then service the cars. But Tesla is trying to build up a close one-to-one brand relationship with his customers, whereas General Motors deals second and third hand.
Amazon is another different case in terms of customer loyalty. Amazon has got their system down so that they can actually deliver you a product the day after you order it almost anywhere within North America. Two or three days outside of North America. Brick and mortar stores, you go in and they often don’t have the product and they say, “Well, we don’t have it but we’ll order it for you.” “And how long will it take?” “Not more than two or three weeks. And we can call you.” I say, “No, I can just go on my iPhone and go click, click, click, and it’ll almost be at home when I get there.”
One of the greatest customer service businesses in my estimation is zappos.com. If you have never bought shoes from zappos.com, I recommend that you try it. I buy all my shoes from Zappos and everybody who’s ever used them once does the same. Why? Because if you place an order with Zappos up until five o’clock in the afternoon, the shoes will be delivered the next morning, often before you can go to work. And not only that, they pay the delivery fees and they give you a return receipt paid if the shoes don’t fit or you don’t like them, for any way, they take them back 100% at their expense and refund your money completely. Unbelievable.
Every single company that is successful today does what Tony Shay of Zappos says, “They deliver happiness. They make their customers happier than their competitors.” So the rule for success is simply this, is to make your customers happy and then make your customers happier. And then make them happier and recognize that every single one of your competitors has one goal in life, is to make their customers or your customers happier than they were and happier than you.
Today in business leadership, your job is to tell everybody that there’s nothing more important than a happy customer and that you will bend over backward to do everything possible to make your customers happy. And if you do that from the beginning of the customer and product development process, all the way to the end, then you’re going to have a very successful business.
So what is the one thing that you can do immediately to make your customers happier than anyone else? Whatever it is, do it immediately. Don’t delay. Just do it right now. And leave a comment below. Tell us what you’re going to do.