Identifying the most effective way to take consumers down the buying path is something every organization on the planet spends a tremendous amount of time and resources accomplishing. Every promise of growth to stakeholders/shareholders is dependent upon not just retaining current customers, but finding new ones. For any organization focused on their brand, the tremendous effort to take prospects from unaware–>aware–>interested–>purchaser–>loyal–>promoter requires a sound strategy and flawless execution. However the top .01% of companies…the cream of the crop…they are focused on simplifying the above maturity path. They constantly ask themselves “how can we take someone from being unaware to being our biggest promoter immediately?”
Most land on the same fundamental approach that got them to where they are in the first place – go above and beyond for your customers. Succeeding in delivering a phenomenal experience requires a dedicated focus on the areas where a direct connection exists between your brand and your customer – advertising, web experience, the ordering process, store experience, and customer service. That’s a lot of areas to address – so what’s the common theme? Your people!
The people you choose to represent your brand either reinforce or take away from the principles you hope to convey. Every single person who interfaces with the customer should be trained as a problem solver. Not a rule follower and certainly not a standard call-taker. Yes, the top companies in the world actually advocate navigating around policy, and put their margins in the hands of their customer service teams. It’s not all that crazy when you think about it – if you as a company invest in anything, shouldn’t it be your customers? This is the model that wildly successful companies like Amazon and Zappos have embraced as a vehicle for growth acceleration and brand loyalty.
Every week on the blog, I’m going to do my best to point out an example of a company, team, or customer service professional who really gets it, delivering an exceptional customer experience that drives brand loyalty and accelerates the path to becoming a promoter.
This week I am going to focus on Filson, the retailer best known for offering some of the most durable and high quality luggage and outdoor clothing on the market. To better identify with their customer-centric approach, just check out their warranty:
“We guarantee every item purchased from us. No more, no less. Your satisfaction is the sole purpose of our transaction.”
I recently visited Filson’s site to order 5 duffle bags – 1 for each of the groomsmen in my wedding. Much to my dismay, the bags were listed as “sold out” with an estimated ship date 2 months out. Ouch. A quick glimpse into my personality – I don’t accept failure well at all, in fact it just pushes me to work harder…it’s like a game. If something is impossible…well I want to make it possible. Not on a soapbox here, this can be as much of a deficiency as it is an admirable trait…just ask my wife who has to deal with my maniacally stubborn pursuits.
Anyway, I had my heart set on these bags, and I was going to find them! Lucky for me, Zak @ Filson was up to the challenge. Upon calling Filson’s customer service line, Zak informed me that they were indeed sold out for the next 2 months. He then proceeded to check their system inventory to see if any Filson retail locations had the bags in stock. According to him, what he saw in the system “didn’t add up” so he wanted to make a few calls. In the meantime, he provided me with the numbers for my local authorized retailers to call them while he was hunting. At this point, I’m loving this. I just picked up a partner! Zak and I are on a mission, we are determined to find these bags, the dynamic duo of duffle bags – Zak & Nick!
Zak and Nick preparing for battle
Side note – one thing you may be thinking – “why didnt Zak just call your local retailers himself if he’s so good?” Simple – because I didn’t want him to. Zak could hear I really wanted these bags, he was trained well to understand that I wanted to remain part of the process. Think about it – I didn’t trust the information on the website, so I called customer service. I have already established that I am the type of consumer where “just checking” isn’t enough for me, so Zak did us both a favor by taking the lead and assigning responsibilities. I put up no argument and in fact was energized by the chase.
So after my assignment resulted in all my local retailers being out of stock…I get a phone call from Zak. He’s red hot on the trail of the LAST 5 BAGS in the country. My eyes lit up…a crack of light! He found 3 in Portland, and had the store manager holding them, and was just about to walk down to the Seattle store to get his hands on what may be 2 bags hiding out in the stockroom. Fast forward an hour, I get another phone call from Zak saying he’s got all 5 bags, truly the last in the country, and will have them sent to me before the day is done.
The bags were on my doorstep less than 72 hours later. From zero to hero.
Zak probably broke 6 or 7 rules along the way, simply to make me happy. I have told this story to dozens of people since this transaction, resulting in numerous new customers for Filson. Message – go above and beyond for your customers and we will do the same – it truly works!
What’s the best part about this story for Filson? Just 6 months ago I didn’t own a single Filson product. Guess how I found out about them? A recommendation from a friend. In 6 months and over the course of 3 transactions, based on his recommendation and my experiences, I have gone from unaware–>brand promoter.
Do you want to create a customer base filled with promoters? Do you want to accelerate the pace of promoter development? Invest in your customers. We will repay you. Way to go Filson, this is how it’s done.