Something I hardly do normally is re-post someone else’s words. Last time I did this was for The Internet Manifesto. This extract is about customer evangelism and published under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence by Huba & McConnell
We ﬁnd there are six common strategies among organizations that beneﬁt from remarkable levels of customer evangelism. We call these strategies the six tenets:
1. CUSTOMER PLUS-DELTA: Continuously gather customer feedback.
Understand what evangelists love by continuously gathering their input. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is a feedback machine. He conducts mini-surveys with nearly every fan he meets, asking how to improve the fan experience (the “delta” in plus-delta). His email address shows up on the American Airlines Arena scoreboard. Build-a-Bear Workshop, the interactive retailer where children can build their own personal stuﬀed animals, uses a “Cub Advisory Board” as a feedback and decisioninput body. The board is made up of twenty 8-12 year olds who review new product ideas and give a paws up or down. Maxine Clark, the companyʼs Chief Executive Bear, says that after 6 years in business, 99% of products in the store are customer ideas.
2. NAPSTERIZED KNOWLEDGE: Make it a point to share knowledge freely.
The original Napster, the ﬁle-sharing service that turned the music industryʼs distribution system on its ear, taught us that sharing your knowledge freely increases the perceived and actual value of knowledge by making it more accessible. The more knowledge you share with the world, the more that people will tell others about it. Fans around the world devote dozens of hours weekly to their product or company websites and weblogs. Embrace them. Invite them to meet your back-oﬃce team. Give them plenty of statistics, photos, and anything else they need for their websites. For companies that primarily sell to other companies, discover routes to sharing more information among all of your trading partners so the experience of being a customer becomes more valuable.
3. BUILD THE BUZZ: Expertly build word-of-mouth networks.
Customer evangelists are often information junkies. Theyʼre inﬂuencers who spread the latest news through their networks. That provides them stature and authority. Theyʼll use many mediums to spread buzz about products or companies, whether itʼs face-to-face with friends and family, or huge audiences via email, online forums or chat rooms. Shepherd your evangelists into a special program, where theyʼre given a backstage pass to try new products or meet the rock stars of your company.
4. CREATE COMMUNITY: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.
Provide like-minded customers the chance to meet one another. PAETEC, a telecommunications company that provides services to hotels, universities and other companies, hosts informal customer dinners around the country. Current customers and key prospects are invited for food and good company. No boring PowerPoint presentations here; just customers talking about their telecommunications challenges and how much they love PAETECʼs service and support. Prospects are sold on the company by other customers. When customers meet one another underneath your umbrella, the value you deliver as a vendor increases exponentially.
5. MAKE BITE-SIZE CHUNKS: Devise specialized, smaller oﬀerings to get customers to bite.
Even if a customer doesnʼt purchase, she may spread favorable word of mouth because she could try before buying. Bite-size chunks of your products and services reduce risk, sales cycles and oﬀer up-front value. Those are three key qualities evangelists seek out.
6. CREATE A CAUSE: Focus on making the world, or an industry, better.
Companies that strive for a higher purpose – like supporting “freedom” as HarleyDavidson and Southwest Airlines do — often ﬁnd that customers, vendors, suppliers and employees naturally root for its success. A well-deﬁned cause can change the world, no matter how big or small. Customer evangelists crave emotional connection and validation; a well-deﬁned cause generates strong emotional attachments.
pic: CC-BY-NC-ND, Roy Sinai