Make Customers Swoon and Create Zealous Advocates for Your Brand
This week, we welcome Dr. Chip Bell to the Digitally Irresistible Podcast. Chip is a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and service innovation, ranked by Global Gurus for the past eight years as one of the top 10 keynote speakers on customer experience.
Chip is a decorated U.S. Army veteran and has written more than 700 columns for business journals, magazines, and top blogs. He has appeared on CNN, CNBC, CBS, Fox Business, and ABC among others. His work has been featured in “Fortune,” “Businessweek,” “Forbes,” “The Wall Street Journal,” and the list goes on.
He has authored 24 books on customer loyalty and service, many of which are award-winning bestsellers.
On this episode, we discuss nine principles to improve customer loyalty through service innovation that Chip explains in his 23rd book, “Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.”
A Passion for Writing and Service
Chip’s interest in writing began in the 11th grade when we earned an A on a creative essay he wrote about a coat hanger. This unlocked the door to creativity for Chip and later gave a voice to his passion for excellent customer service.
Since starting his company in 1980, he has had a blast making a positive difference in the lives of others and helping companies develop customer-centric strategies.
9 Steps to Improve Customer Loyalty Through Service Innovation
In his book, “Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles,” Chip differentiates between good customer service that leaves customers satisfied and innovative service that makes customers swoon and become zealous advocates for a company.
For Chip, a kaleidoscope is a metaphor for the key principles that remain constant when creating profoundly remarkable customer experiences that are unique to each organization.
To create the types of compelling experiences that keep customers coming back, Chip says businesses must go beyond value added and develop value unique—innovative ways to create experiences customers can’t wait to tell others about.
1. Enchantment: Create Magical Experiences That Customers Talk About
Enchantment is an unexpected and unique aspect of the experience beyond what the customer can imagine.
Chip’s wife experienced enchantment after trading in her old car for a new one. When she turned on the radio for the first time, she discovered the service tech had programmed the radio stations from her old car. Now, more than the car, she talks about the radio—the enchanting experience that went beyond her expectations.
2. Mercy: Treat Customers With Respect and Assume Innocence
Mercy is how we treat customers when things go wrong, when they’re upset, and when they’re angry.
Chip experienced mercy when he was driving down a rural road one Sunday morning. He was the only car on the road and didn’t notice when the speed limit changed from 65 mph to 45 mph because the road conditions hadn’t changed. A highway patrol officer stopped Chip, and the first thing he asked was if there was an emergency. The officer assumed innocence and showed mercy. Chip got a ticket, but what stood out to him was how incredible the experience was. So much so that he wrote a letter of commendation to the highway patrol unit because of the way the officer handled the situation with mercy.
3. Grace: Show Unconditional Acceptance and Care
Grace is all about unconditional acceptance, assuming the best in others. Grace is also about dramatic listening to build connections—interacting with customers in ways that demonstrate they are important and valued.
Chip notes an example he saw in an upscale retail store. A few teenagers walked in with ear pods and baggy pants and the clerk welcomed the teenagers and thanked them for coming in—treating all customers equally with grace. The kids were taken aback, and one said they had to buy something. That grace and unconditional acceptance created a positive encounter because of how the customers were treated.
4. Trust: Demonstrate Trust in Customers and Empower Employees to Make Smart Decisions
Trust is an essential part of how we treat customers and how we empower frontline employees. When leaders trust employees to make smart decisions on behalf of their organization, it creates better employee and customer experiences.
An example of trust—from the employee and customer perspectives—was when Chip’s wife stopped by the local grocery store during a jog. She picked up a few items and when she arrived at the check-out, she realized she had forgotten her credit card (she usually carried it and her driver’s license when she went running). Instead of turning her away, the cashier told her not to worry about it. She knew Chip’s wife as a regular customer and simply wrote down the amount owed, put it in the drawer, and told her she could pay the bill the next time she came in.
5. Generosity: Give Something Extra to Demonstrate a Gifting Attitude
Generosity is the giving of something extra. It’s the baker’s dozen spirit of abundance integrated throughout the customer journey.
One example Chip shares is of a heating, air conditioning, and plumbing company that looks for ways to bring something extra when they make a house call. They may bring a balloon, greeting card, flower, or another small unique token that shows they care.
6. Ease: Take the Effort Out of the Customer Experience
Ease is how we remove emotional effort from the customer experience.
Harvard Business School marketing professor Ted Levitt used to talk about how people buy a quarter-inch drill bit, not because they want the drill bit itself, but because they want a quarter-inch hole. They’d probably like to snap their fingers and have the hole, but instead, they must go to the hardware store, find the drill bit, pay the clerk, go home, attach the drill bit to the drill, and finally make the hole. Customers would love to skip this entire process, so we need to make it as comfortable as we can for them.
Chip says this applies to all processes, from filling out forms to waiting on hold for an agent, our goal should be to create an experience that the customer finds emotionally effortless—remove anxiety, worry, and angst from their experience.
7. Truth: Be Completely Honest and Open With Customers
Great relationships are founded in absolute trust, so we must trust and be completely open and transparent with our customers.
When people take the stand in court, they promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The statement is broken into three parts to emphasize the importance of telling the entire truth, without omitting details or including white lies.
Chip shares an example of when he was on a flight and the pilot announced they landed on time. Chip looked at his watch and the flight was 14 minutes later than planned. The pilot viewed this as an on-time arrival because the FAA permits a 15-minute window for flights to be considered on time. Truth is being completely open and honest with customers.
8. Alliance: Create a Partnership With Customers and Seek Their Help and Feedback
Alliance is about a partnership. It’s about co-creating an experience with a customer that they feel a part of. This can include inviting them to provide feedback or any other action that helps customers feel like they are co-owners of the experience.
By creating experiences with customers that make them feel like trusted partners, we should also treat frontline associates the same. Creating a culture of respect, alliance, and partnership produces more rewarding employee and customer experiences.
9. Passion: Exude Passion in All Interactions With Customers
Passion in a customer relationship means every moment will be the best it can be.
During keynotes, Marketing Hall of Famer Seth Godin sometimes asks the audience to hold up their hands as high as they can. He then asks them to hold their hands a little higher. Invariably, people can always go a little higher, so Seth asks why hold back?
Sometimes we’re too reserved to do our very best the first time around. With profoundly remarkable and innovative customer relationships we must deliver excitement and positive energy. When we have passion, our customers know we’re doing the best we can to serve them.
CX Leadership That Prompts Innovation
CX leaders can inspire innovative services by treating employees like valued customers their bottom line depends on. It’s essential to trust employees and empower them with training, support, and all the tools they need to make smart decisions on behalf of the organization to best serve customers.
The Ritz-Carlton famously empowers employees with the authority to spend up to $2,000 to satisfy a guest’s need before bringing it to management’s attention. That authority is grounded in trust that serves employees and customers well.
What Chip Does for Fun
Chip travels for work and for fun. He and his wife love visiting museums in any city they visit. Next on the list is the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. He’s on the board of the Georgia Writers Museum and is also an avid fly fisher. Always learning, Chip is taking up Tenkara, the Japanese method of fly fishing.