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Cynthia Clark | April 27, 2012

Prolonging Customer Enchantment

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wowing customers.jpgNew experiences are exciting, but the fascination can quickly dissipate unless we're continually wowed. This is true for companies, which need to continue to enchant their customers to make sure they don't go to competitors.

According to Guy Kawasaki, Apple's former chief evangelist, there are three pillars to make enchantment last--likeability, trustworthiness, and quality. "You need the likeability of Richard Branson, the trustworthiness of Zappos, and the quality of Apple," he said during the SAS Global Forum this week.

Kawasaki said an important ingredient to keeping customers enchanted is to "always default to yes." He explained that organizations, and their frontline staff, should always ask what they can do to help customers.

A crucial element to ensuring that customers continue to be enchanted with a brand they're doing business with is reciprocal trust. "You need to achieve trust," Kawasaki said, pointing out that being likeable isn't enough. He noted that in order to achieve this trust, it's necessary to first trust others. Amazon, for example, allows customers to return an e-book within seven days, even though a good number of people can read through a book within that time frame and still return it. However, Kawasaki pointed out, Amazon trusts its customers not to do that, eliciting trust from them in return. Zappos has won the trust of thousands of customers who buy shoes without first trying them on because they know that the company will take the shoes back if they want to return them, even including free two-way shipping. Thus, by trusting customers in advance, Zappos has earned their trust. As Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, PhD, highlight in their new book, Extreme Trust, trust is not just important. It's inevitable.

Kawasaki said another important step that companies need to take is to constantly improve their products and services. This includes intelligent products that leave customers with a sense that the company really understood their needs and is tailoring its products and services to them.

But having a great product or service isn't enough. Organizations need to be able to tell a great story about that product, convincing customers that they need it and that their lives will be much better if they spend the money on it. "Tell the story of how the product impacts a person's life," Kawasaki said.

Also, get customers to share their stories. Social media has shifted the power from celebrities and politicians to anyone with a computer--or even a smartphone--who can tell his friends about a good or bad experience with a company, who in turn tell their friends and so on, causing a snowball effect. "Plant many seeds," Kawasaki said.

Some companies struggle with making their enchantment last because they lack endurance. Kawasaki said the Grateful Dead allowed fans attending their concerts to tape the shows and share the music with their friends. As Kawasaki puts it, the band encouraged piracy because they wanted more people to enjoy their music, building "an ecosystem of evangelists" who helped in the band's success.

First impressions count and are of paramount importance to attract customers to start doing business with a company. However, retaining these customers is even more important, which is why companies need to continue wowing their clients throughout their interactions, ensuring that they remain faithful to the brand.

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