If you frequent my blog, you have met my Grandmother Viola, my Grandmother Sarah, and my Grandfather Tony. The one grandparent you haven’t met is my Grandfather Louis. Don’t feel left out, neither have I. Unfortunately, my dad’s dad passed away when my dad was 11 years old. I know that wasn’t easy for my dad, my grandmother, or my Aunt Anne. From what I have heard, he was a wonderful man, fun, full of life and love, a hard worker and a great family man — a pretty difficult act to follow. So much so, that my Grandmother Viola never married again. In fact, she never even had a boyfriend. I will go one further – she never even dated; she had no interest.
When I was a teenager, I once asked her, “Grandma, how come you never tried to find someone else to replace Grandpa?” She looked at me and quite confidently said, “When you have had the best, why would you ever settle for less?” That’s a pretty powerful statement. Can you imagine experiencing anything in life that had such a powerful effect on you? My grandmother raised two children, worked full time, put my dad through college, and she did it all alone, without ever looking for help, because she knew my grandfather never could be duplicated. She wouldn’t even settle to get a little support and assistance to make life easier. That is extremely rare.
Imagine if you could duplicate that emotion in a customer service experience. Such a great experience that once you had enjoyed such wonderful treatment, you could never think of going anywhere else, never patronizing a different establishment from the one that gave you that feeling. That would be powerful; it would also be profitable.
I believe there are very few companies that have that type of impact on consumers. I believe, like my grandmother’s feelings, it is very rare. One reason is that corporations take their consumers for granted. They produce a particular product that the consumer needs, and then believes that alone is good enough to carry the experience. The fact of the matter is that the product is just the beginning of the customer experience, and is not even close to the end. Most brands have to break away from the concept that delivering a great product is the end of their obligation. They have to care enough about their consumer to provide the product and much more. They have to care enough about the consumer to satisfy their needs from the brand that go beyond the product.
In Winning the Customer, we discuss the steps companies need to take in order to make fans out of their consumers. We discuss the structure and disciplines necessary to ensure consumers have an attachment to your brand stronger than just the need and use of its products and services. In order for your consumer and client to never want another product or service other than yours for the rest of their life, there is a responsibility with your delivery that has to take place with every interaction.
Now I don’t know for sure, but I have to assume that my grandfather wasn’t perfect, and made mistakes. But, I am positive that the fact my grandmother made such a powerful statement about him means that he did everything in his power to minimize the negative effect any mistakes might have had on her. I understand love between two people is more intimate and dramatic than the relationship of a consumer with a brand, but I would also think that the characteristics that create that feeling are not very different at all.
Knowing the characteristics is the easy part. Understanding what your consumer or loved one wants is not that difficult to find out. The part where failure and dissatisfaction come into play is the place between “knowing” and “doing”. Companies like Disney, Apple, and Zappos get that the equation is dependant on the doing. My grandmother never looked at another man because my grandfather knew this as well. Based on the stories she told about him, I can tell that he not only knew what to do, he also made damn sure he followed through by actually doing those things. It makes me believe that both on the corporate and an individual basis, there is plenty of evidence that the doing is doable. So what is your excuse? Become a tough act to follow.