Posts Tagged With: Customer Experience

The iPhone 5 is the latest example of “The Apple Effect” – how do they do it?!?

New product launches are like walking on thin ice. Same goes for service providers and retailers entering new markets. You can never truly predict how the market will react. You can have the best marketing campaign in the world supported by all the statistics money can buy, and still come up short. You could gather a lineup of Obama, Michael Phelps, Justin Bieber, RG3 (!), and Oprah jumping up and down on trampolines with big signs saying “greatest product in the world”, and still people may not be so quick to engage.

Enter the iPhone 5. Apple continues to be a marquee brand that other organizations aspire to be like. Regardless of industry, people look at what Apple has accomplished in terms of Customer Loyalty and constantly ask – how can we generate that same loyalty and enthusiasm within our industry?

Check out this video – can you imagine someone walking into a Volkswagen dealership and having the same reaction to a “new car”…that it turns out they already own?

Jimmy Kimmel: What Happens when we “Introduce” the iPhone 5 to the public – with an iPhone 4s?

While Apple detractors can use this as proof that Apple products aren’t all that great and it’s all about the “mystique” associated with the product, savvy marketers watch a video like this, their jaw sinks, head shaking, asking “wow how do they do it?”

Apple has a different approach than most organizations, one focused on what should be, not what can be. Jobs’ team is famous for running through boundaries when others are frozen by them. Let’s break it down by talking about the Apple experience in the context of Who, How, and Why.


Let’s focus on their 2 most high impact organizations – Design/Development and Marketing.

Apple does not develop their products based on what people WANT. They develop them based on what people don’t know they want…yet. Here is a great quote from Jobs that summarizes:

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new”

– Steve Jobs

People are inspired by innovation & change…and ultimately, that’s what any strategic marketer wants to do to grow their customer base and take market share – motivate their promoters to keep buying and promoting while activating the need to change amongst their competitors’ customers.

As great as their design team is, Marketingis where Apple really shines – some may say it’s easy when you’ve got great products, but the main thing Apple does better than everyone else? They believe in the Customer EXPERIENCE, not Customer SERVICE. What makes the people in that video so inclined to trust their emotions over their actual physical senses, when they are holding this iPhone 5 imposter? Apple has set the expectation that their brand is associated with innovation, improvement, and agility…regardless of if it actually is.

How? Apple does a better job of communicating with the consumer than nearly anyone else, in any industry. Whether it’s communicating with you via an interactive digital experience (App Store updates, iOS updates, iTunes, etc), or via an in-person experience (retail stores, call center, etc), they focus on 2 things – adding value, and measuring your experience while doing so. Just like a puppy who jumps when they hear the treat jar lid spring open, consumers jump when they are alerted to a pending Apple Experience…and they want in.

Why? Confidence. Consumers are confident that every Apple experience will meet their expectations, or exceed them. Apple builds confidence amongst consumers by constantly delivering on their promises. When they don’t – they want to hear about it. Heck, when they do, they want to hear about it. I have never seen an organization so dedicated to their engagements with consumers – if Apple could ask you every day “give me one word that describes Apple” (shout-out to BrandTags) and track that sentiment, taking into account all of the external variables (seasons/weather, market share, spend, product releases, etc) to measure the reasoning behind customers’ feedback they would. Apple has a level of respect for consumer sentiment that is unmatched in any industry. This allows them to align their delivery to their customers’ expectations, and ultimately drive consumer confidence and loyalty through the roof.

So to recap – how does Apple create a culture of loyalty so strong that anticipation, emotion, and promotion takes precedence over features and functions? Thank goodness for simplicity and flowcharts.

Disruption–>Innovation–>Commitment–>Engagement–>Experience–>Confidence–>Loyalty–>Revenue–>Profitability–>Shareholder Value–>SUCCESS

Simply put by Jobs himself:

“Our DNA is as a consumer company – for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simply”

Nice job Apple. Like my man Aziz Ansari said, “that’s how it’s done son!”

Categories: Customer Experience, Leadership, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why not???

You know when you come across a great quote in a book that makes you stop reading and say “wow, that was concise and hits the nail on the head!” I wanted to share one of my all-time favorites from a book that many of us consumer-experience-geeks have at arms’ length at any given time. The reason this resonates with me so much is because it addresses the very essence of human relationships, and speaks to a very positive approach you can easily refer to in every meaningful interaction, every day. From our friend Fred Reichheld at Bain:

“It always seemed to me that success in business and in life should result from your impact on the people you touch – whether you have enriched their lives or diminished them”

For whatever reason, my brain processes information chunks at a time, much in the same way I eat (slowly, enjoying bite by bite), so quotes like this that deliver a range of applicability in 10 seconds or less really put me in my place.

Yes you have to make a conscious effort. So why try to contribute positively in every interaction? Why make an effort to add to each others’ success and enjoyment as often as possible? Why break down the barriers and get to the root of what matters?

When you think about it, whether individually, or as a business…WHY NOT? Why operate any other way? The most innovative companies in the world have adopted a methodology to implement and manage this within their day to day interactions, to maintain the fundamentals of a consumer-centric culture. We as individuals can do it for free.

Speaking of which, looking at the expression on my wife’s face as I type this over a longgggg slowwww breakfast (naturally),  it looks like I’ve got some enriching to do myself. Sorry babe, off we go!!!

Categories: Customer Experience, Life | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

“Our Mission” – get it right and stick to it

Mission statements have come a long way. Remember back to your first exposure to business plans and the concept of entrepreneurship – “what does your company stand for?” The mission statement was this cold, mechanical message about delivering “value” and “the best products for ____ in the world.”

Over time, these statements often became another channel for marketing, leveraging “the mission statement” to attract consumers. Unfortunately the quality of their artificial content conveyed that intent.

Today, consumers have more access to data than ever, and we can now qualitatively evaluate the validity of these mission statements. Ultimately, organizations are losing credibility by claiming to deliver an experience that they simply aren’t backing up. We as consumers have the power to hold these organizations accountable for the experience they claim to deliver, and when they don’t….well, we feel cheated and in turn defect to the competition, or even worse become detractors.

Social media has exponentially multiplied the impact of that sentiment. When a company promises to deliver something and fails, that failure can, in seconds, be exposed to over 2.2 BILLION people worldwide with internet access.

Alternatively, when a company has a well defined mission statement that they clearly back up, it can drive customer loyalty and turn passive promoters into walking referrals. Take Philz Coffee, my favorite spot to grab a 6AM coffee & blog sessh in Palo Ato:


Hey, they are playing Billy Idol right now while we’re having a great early morning conversation about the best single on Green Day’s “Nimrod” (Clearly Haushinka, by the way) Doesn’t get much more random, and that’s exactly how I like it. My day is off to a great start, thanks to the great culture of positivity here.

When you think about it – a mission statement should not be some long sentence filled with 12 letter words and complicated cliches. The purpose of a mission statement is for an organization to identify what they want to be, communicate that desire to employees so they uphold the intended values of the company, and communicate that to consumers so they know what to expect from their experience. “Expectations” – the most dangerous word in any B2C OR B2B transaction – for the provider, choose your words carefully; for the buyer, you have every right to demand authenticity and alignment to the expectations that were set up front.

Take a look at some of your favorite brands’ mission statements – are they upholding their end of the bargain, or have they lost their way?

Categories: Customer Experience, Leadership | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Delighting the Customer Episode 1: Filson

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.

Categories: Customer Experience | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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