At PEER 1, our employees will do book reports and post it to the staff site to share with others. I was up this week to post a book I recommend to others. It was tough to choose because I have so many books that I have in my back pocket to reference when I need some inspiration. Book topics I enjoy reading are Business (Leadership, Customer Focused, Purpose Driven), Personal Finance (Budgeting, Living Debt free, Saving for the future) and Inspirational / Motivational books. Sounds boring I know but that’s just what I enjoy at this point in my life. I find it relevant to what I want to accomplish.
So what book did I choose? Creating Cusotmer Evangelists by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. This book is a bit old (2003) but I think the content is still relevant. The book contains very fundamental concepts that I believe are crucial to understand when managing and growing your customer base.
I first read this book in one of my college business classes back in 2004. We were focusing on the Net Promoter Score and researching how industry leading companies like Starbucks, Apple and Southwest Airlines were able to maintain off the chart scores. These leaders are not leaders because they only have a compelling offering. That’s just one piece of it. The other piece is how they have built a community around their offering.
Of course, step 1 is to have a compelling offering (you can’t make mud look pretty). Once you have established a customer base, focus on them! These are your friends. If they are happy, they will market your product for you – they will be your evangelist. Often times I think we completely miss the boat here. We spend so much time and resources on gaining new sales that we lose sight of what we already have in front of us. Below are 6 basic tenets of creating customer evangelists (straight from the book / website):
1. Customer plus-delta: Continuously gather customer feedback.
2. Napsterize knowledge: Make it a point to share knowledge freely.
3. Build the buzz: Expertly build word-of-mouth networks.
4. Create community: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.
5. Make bite-size chunks: Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite.
6. Create a cause: Focus on making the world, or your industry, better.
It makes perfect sense. Now, with the evolution of social media, we have so many outlets to practice these six key principles.
It’s important to know what your competitors are doing but it’s more important to know what your customers are doing. Once you lose sight of this, you have lost site of your business. Focus!
One company that I think has done a phenomenal job in creating a community is Harley Davidson.