How to Create Fiercely Loyal Customers

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A colleague and I were comparing cell phones yesterday. Mine is an iPhone and hers is, well, not an iPhone. I asked her how she liked her phone, and she said, “It’s fine, I guess. No complaints. It gets the job done.” Then she asked me how I liked my iPhone, and I practically yelled out, “I love my iPhone!” If you’re an iPhone user, you know what I mean. iPhone users love their phones, and they’re fiercely loyal. It’s the same thing with Mac users and PC users; the Mac users love their computers, and they’re fiercely loyal to Apple (which makes both the Mac and the iPhone). PC users…not so much. So why does Apple command such fierce customer loyalty? I think it comes down, primarily, to one thing:

Apple designs the experience first, and then comes up with the engineering to make the experience real.

Look, whenever somebody talks about their Mac or their iPhone, inevitably you’ll hear phrases like “user-friendly,” “intuitive,” and “it just works.” Plus, the products are fun to use! Customers love the experience of working with them. When was the last time you heard anybody describe their PC as “fun”?

Apple designs the experience first, and then comes up with the engineering to make the experience real. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to come up with lots of engineering and then slap on a veneer of experience. I mentioned this to my friend (a PC user), and she agreed—and she worked at Microsoft for 20 years! Apple thinks of a computer as an experience; Microsoft thinks of it as an appliance.

So how do you build customer loyalty in your business? Do what Apple does. Design your customer’s experience first, and then reverse-engineer your business operations to support that experience. Look at your business the way it is today. Would your customers describe it at “user-friendly,” “intuitive,” and “it just works”? Or have you designed it for your convenience, while the customers just have to fend for themselves? If you were a customer thinking about doing business with your company, how would you want it to work?

When the Beatles were working on the White Album, they wanted their fans (their customers) to have a great customer experience. So instead of just a single album, they made it a double album. But that wasn’t enough. They also included four full-color 8×10 photographs by Richard Avedon, one of each Beatle, and specially designed to illustrate the personality of each of the band members. But that wasn’t enough. So they also included a large poster featuring a collage of photos of the Beatles. And finally, they printed the lyrics to all 30 songs on the reverse side of this poster. Each of these generated their own production challenges (not to mention that each album was individually numbered), but the Beatles didn’t worry about that initially. They designed the customer experience, and then worked out the challenges.

If you want your own customers to be fiercely loyal, you could do worse than to model Apple and the Beatles!


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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