John Eklund, Pro Mach

On Creating Customer Advocates

By John Eklund, Pro Mach | Permanent Link

Stick with me here, because I’m going to be talking about baby monitors. But I promise I’ll use the example to make a point.

Before we had our first child we researched a lot of different baby monitors before settling in on a system that was a bit pricey – $125 – but got great reviews. We’ve had the system now for over a year and really love it, it has a sensitivity adjustment on it that means we can actually hear the baby breathe if we want (how comforting is THAT in the middle of the night for the new parent?), but it only came with one charger base and you couldn’t buy an extra charger for it at the store.

So I decided to call the company and order an extra charger. I called them up and we walked through the model and part identification process, confirmed the part I needed and she took my shipping information. I realized she had yet to mention price so I asked her how much it cost and started to pull out the credit card, already conceding that “I’ve made it this far so I guess I’ll pay whatever it is.” I’m thinking maybe $20 or $30, tops. She then proceeded to tell me “It’s free – we do this as a service for our customers.”

“I’m sorry. What? It’s free?”

“Yes sir, it’s free as a courtesy to our customers.” Wow. I actually told her “I’m stunned.” She says “It will be there in 5 to 7 business days unless you need it sooner.” I assured her 5 to 7 was fine, thanked her profusely and then called my wife to tell her the good news. A purely delightful customer service experience.

Now I’m sure many of you are reading this saying “they left a lot of money on the table there – aftermarket parts can have a really big markup!” and you’re right – they did leave money on the table with ME. But customer service goes beyond the single customer you interact with – and that’s the key. People who have babies probably have friends who will be having babies and guess who those friends will ask about what the best this and that is?

Do you think any friend of ours won’t get this monitor recommended to them if they ask? Heck they’ll get it recommended to them if they don’t ask. Why? Because I got a free charger? No, it goes way beyond that – they decided that rather than make a nice profit from aftermarket parts, like we’re all want to do – that they would instead focus on creating loyal customers. They empathize with their target market – new parents – and try to make life a little bit easier for them, because they know that their lives are probably a little hectic right now.

Of course, they had a quality product to begin with and that’s important, but remember I wasn’t looking to change, I was already happy. They took a happy customer and turned me into a delighted customer.

Now how do we turn this back to packaging? Simple – remember that you don’t turn customers into advocates when they’re upset, you turn them into advocates when they’re already happy. You turn them into advocates by empathizing with them and occasionally surprising them by going above and beyond even when you aren’t asked to do so.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to give away spare parts to create advocates, but the heart of what I’m getting at is this: what could you be doing differently to unexpectedly delight your customers? How do you create your next “above and beyond” moment? How do you turn your apathetic customer into an advocate? Give it some thought, it might not be as hard as you think.


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