Name a brand with inspired customers. Apple come to mind? Nike? Jim Champy will introduce you to many, not so obvious, brands winning the love of customers and more importantly teach you where the magic happens and how to create it for your brand. Champy should know. He’s a tremendously talented consultant and author with full access to the best and brightest. Champy is the Chairman of consulting for Perot Systems and author of the bestselling business books “Reengineering the Corporation”, “Reengineering Management” and “Outsmart”. Champy has sold over 3,000,000 books.
We asked Jim to share some of what’s he’s learned in his new book, “Inspire: Why Customer’s Come Back”.
Jim, how does a company create customers who are passionate about their products?
At the basic level customers are passionate about products that are good. Products with good features, good quality and good pricing. The IPhone is good example. But if there’s a better product, with better features and pricing customers may switch. What I argue in “Inspire” is that you need more than price and quality to create passion. You must appeal to your costumer’s values.
I write about Honest Tea. They really live up their promise. They are honest in everything they do. They’re honest with their labeling, honest in how they deal with their customers, venders, suppliers and channels.
Their customers recognize this. In fact…one customer posted on their website “You are so honest I wish you were my bank!”
What matter most to consumers?
I think customers are particularly tuned into service because service embodies what they value. It embodies excellence. Good service can distinguish one company from another. I don’t write about Zappos in this book but I will in future books.
They sell their shoes at regular retail prices but keep customers coming back through great service. Unlike many companies, who try to reduce customer interactions to save money, Zappos actually encourages their customer service reps to stay on the phone with customers.
It is because great service is so rare that I believe customer’s value it more.
What if a company produces boring products?
There are lots of companies that produce boring products. I write about Stoneyfield Yogurt and I write about Tea. One could consider Yogurt and Tea boring. At Stoneyfield there is a great commitment to and authenticity around their efforts related to the environment. Customers respond to that. If you appeal to their values you can have a boring product and still have passionate customers.
How important is convenience?
To a large class convenience is extremely important. If you have a complete product or service developing a high level of convenience is important. I write in the book about GoDaddy and the strong focus they have on service. If it doesn’t work you can get right to real service person fast. When I interviewed their CEO I asked him about their process. How do problems get escalated? He said “if you have a problem you can always call the office of the President”. I said, “do you personally answer the phone?” Then he explained that he has 30 people answering the phones in his office. So that if anyone needs or wants to call the President of GoDaddy they can… and they can get their problem answered. Now that’s a commitment to service.
I think one of the best examples of a company delivering convenience is ZipCar. When I interviewed their CEO I said “you’re in the auto rental business right?” but he corrected me informing me that they were in the shared-ownership business. It’s that subtle change of reference that gets customers to think differently about the business and reinforces the service relationship.
With ZipCar you don’t worry about insurance, where to park or the cost of parking. In some areas of Boston you could pay $100,000 to $150,000 to buy a parking space. Not your problem with ZipCar. Where I work at the Prudential Center there are ZipCars in the parking lot. For shared owners they can access them electronically and conveniently.
When ZipCar was founded the cars were more basic, VW’s, now you can have your choice. You can have basic transportation or you can have a BMW or a Porsche for the weekend.
It’s an elegant company, run by 80 people, that has combined convenience and choice in a terrific way.
How do customers like to be rewarded?
Good price, features and service matter but customers really like to be rewarded with a great experience. That’s something special. I write about Member Health that provides insurance for pharmaceuticals but it does it from mom and pop pharmacies…mostly in the Midwest where there are thousands of them.
Member Health acquired several hundred thousand subscribers by leveraging the local channel and tapping the relationship between these great mom and pop service providers and their local customers.
When we brag about a product we talk about the experience of doing business with that company.
Once customers have something to be excited about how do we get them to share it?
Today it’s easy because we have the Internet.
Today’s savvy companies enable their customers to form communities. These companies allow their users to reach out on their behalf and do so in an authentic way.
With customers, even if you don’t want them to share they will. So establish a community so their good experiences can be shared.
One of the best companies at doing this is the Big Green Egg. They have a ceramic cooker that foodies really swear buy. The company was started nearly 40 years ago out of Atlanta with little or no advertising and word of mouth. If you go to BigGreenEgg.com you’ll see lots of testimonials and tips, all kinds of recipes and info for the next Egg Fest. Egg Fest is their annual convention where the most inspired customers come together to share recipes and cook.
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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com