Delighting Customers Costs More Than it’s Worth…and Other Surprising Findings


What? Did I really just type that?

I recently attended a conference where Matt Dixon, a group leader at CEB, presented on making your customer experience unique. I asked him if I could recap his excellent presentation and he agreed.

I expected him to cover the benefits of surprising and delighting your customers, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Joshie the Giraffe

Joshie the Giraffe

He started his talk somewhat as I’d expected. He told a great story of how the Ritz Carlton surprised and delighted a guest at one of their resorts. That guest was staying at the Ritz with his wife and very young son.  When they returned home, they realized they had left their son’s beloved stuffed animal, Joshie, at the resort. The little one was beside himself, crying, apoplectic, etc. So the father told the boy that Joshie had decided to stay on at the hotel for a few extra days to have some ‘Joshie time.’ It bought Dad some time anyway to find a Joshie replacement.

But then a surprising thing happened. The Ritz Carlton called the father to tell him that they had left a member of their party behind. The father expressed his relief and owned up to the white lie he had told his son. The next day, a box arrived at their home from the Ritz. Inside was of course Joshie, but in addition, these pictures were also included.

Joshie having some 'me' time

Joshie having some ‘me’ time

Talk about the Ritz going above and beyond and saving the day!

But then Matt’s presentation took an unexpected turn. Matt said that the CEB set out to do some research on customer loyalty. They embarked on a 7-year project to study customer service and customer loyalty and concluded that delighting the customer doesn’t actually pay off with increased loyalty. Customer service CAN efficiently and effectively drive loyalty, but not in the way described above.

The CEB study was a large one, and included over 125,000 customers, 5,000 customer service reps, and 100+ companies and it produced 3 main findings:

  1. Delight doesn’t pay. In fact, delighting increased operating costs 10-20% and only succeeded in delighting 16% of the time!

2. Customer Service drives disloyalty. This one might not be entirely surprising. Sometimes companies can raise the ‘sleeping dogs’ who have just not gotten around to cancelling your service until you remind them that they have it. But it’s also because service interactions, according to this study, makes a customer 4x more likely to be DIS-loyal! And it’s because customers aren’t actually satisfied after their interactions.

3. The key is to mitigate disloyalty by reducing the customer service effort. He cited examples that tend to tick customers off: having to call back multiple times, getting transferred around, having to repeat your name and issue over and over again.

And the key to reducing customer service effort is in figuring out how to do things like:

  • Make self-service easy

Let  your customers solve their own problems so that they don’t have to call you. The CEB research showed that the lower the effort required by the customer, the higher the repurchase rate (94% repurchase for low effort vs only 4% for high effort). And they spend more. AND, word of mouth, in a bad way, is way higher for ‘high-effort required’ customers. So when customers are unhappy, they share at a much higher rate than happy customers. And the beauty about making the customer experience easy, is that your costs will go down – according to CEB, by 37%! Why? Because, among other reasons, your customers will have less reason to call you back.

  • Avoid the next issue a customer may have (by anticipating it).

A few months ago, Matt broke a part off of his Dyson vacuum cleaner. So he called to get a replacement. The rep easily helped figure out the model he had and therefore the part that was needed. And she said she was going to send him two of them. Matt asked why two (and also explained a bit about what he does), since he really didn’t think he’d break the part again. And she explained that it’s a little tricky to attach the part, and sometimes customers will snap off the connector while trying to click it in place. Once that happens, the part won’t stay on the vacuum, so you’ll need another one. And once you snap it off once, you understand how to make sure you don’t do it again. She said it’s less expensive for them to send out two of the parts right away, than to take another call from the customer because they broke the connector.

It turns out the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principal is alive and well and can help you garner customer loyalty!


2 Simple, Critical, Landing Page Rules


If you run online advertising, chances are you’ve created landing pages to go with your ads. If you haven’t, you should make landing page creation your next project! Taking a usepalette-1482678_1280r to your general website, instead of a landing page directly related to the ad they’ve just clicked on, is a mistake. Why? Because the person who clicked thru has done so because something in your ad interested them. If where they land is unrelated, they are sure to bounce, and then you’ve lost them.

The function of a landing page can vary: get the sale, get the lead, get the registration for your event. No matter what action you want your reader to take, there are 2 things you must make sure to do:

The offer or key message from your ad needs to be front and center on your landing page. When a user clicks on an ad, it’s important there’s a payoff. Use what made them click in the first place to drive them further to take action when they land on your page. For instance, if you are advertising ‘Save $100’ on your ad, make sure that’s a primary message that greets the reader.

The creative approach of your ad, even if it’s just with a particular font, needs to match your landing page. Continuity between your ad and landing page is important in keeping the experience smooth for your reader.

There are of course other things you should do on your landing page, like making sure your call to action is clear and including social proof (reviews from others), but you need to test your landing pages when you make your decisions on those design elements. What works for others won’t necessarily work for you.

Two Important Lessons about the Importance of Mentors and Helping Others


In a departure from topics that are ‘all things marketing…’ Support

I’ve been thinking about the various jobs I’ve held throughout my working life and how I’ve landed where I have. I’ve enjoyed a very successful career, and it’s because I’ve had help along the way. Yes, I’ve done much on my own, but I’ve had support, advice, recommendations and had access to open positions because of others who wanted to help me.

I am acquainted with a woman who was in a very senior role at AOL. I did not know her all that well while I was there. But I would reach out to her from time to time after leaving AOL for her advice and input on various topics. She ALWAYS responded to my emails with thoughtful, helpful advice and guidance. Not too long ago we met for dinner – at her suggestion. We got to talking about AOL and how we all now know people in many companies all over the country. It’s like we have an ‘in,’ no matter where we want to go. And she told me that whenever someone from AOL reaches out to her, she always responds. Even if she doesn’t know the person, she always tries to help.

Lesson 1 is a simple lesson that’s worth learning: it’s important to help others. Helping others is not only great for them, but it makes you feel pretty good too. It’s a win-win! Helping is easy and costs you nothing.

There are some people who I always list as references when I’m interviewing. Why? Because they want to help. They know me well from working with me in the past, and they are supportive. It’s important to know who you can count on in work (and personal!) life. And it’s equally important to be someone yourself who can be counted on.

Lesson 2 is: it’s equally important to know when to move away from those who aren’t helpful. We’ve all worked with people who do not care about helping others. Unless there’s a benefit to themselves, they aren’t interested. These aren’t necessarily bad people, but they are certain to be selfish and perhaps even a little manipulative, even if they don’t realize it. Spotting those folks, accepting who they are…and keeping your distance, is important.

As Mr. Rogers used to say: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

What does Donald Trump have to do with Earned Media?


As recently as two-weeks ago, I bet if I’d asked how many people knew what the term ‘earned media’ Reportersmeant, few would have known. But thanks to Donald Trump, the word is spreading!  I heard it mentioned in two separate news stories this week alone.

There are three categories commonly used to describe the various types of media:

Paid Media, which refers to TV advertising, ads you encounter while surfing the web, direct mail, and the like.

Owned Media, which refers to your company’s own assets, such as your website, your Facebook page, blog etc.

and Earned Media, which is what Donald Trump is teaching us all about. Earned Media is news coverage, word-of-mouth, reviews. It’s called ‘earned’ because you don’t buy it (typically) or own it. Marketers love Earned Media because it’s free.

Politicians especially love Earned Media because they can gain tons of coverage without spending money they’ve raised. And Trump has lead the field by far, of any candidate ever, in free media coverage. In fact, he has hardly spent anything at all on paid media. And clearly, at least so far, he really hasn’t needed to. According to The New York Times, he has had almost $2 billion dollars’ worth of Earned Media! The downside of course is that Earned Media isn’t always positive, something Trump hasn’t seemed to care much about. In fact, it’s his shocking and ridiculous statements that bring him the most coverage…likely there’s a strategy there.

At the least, there’s a lesson here for marketers: if you make yourself newsworthy (in a positive way!), you’ll benefit. Perhaps a let-down of a payoff but think about it. If you can do something to pick up news coverage, the benefits can be immense. Give back to your community, forge an alliance with a non-for-profit that you care about, donate a part of your sales to a good cause. And make sure you find a way to get some media coverage as a result. Don’t be shy!

Sometimes it’s good to toot your own horn…and hope that others join in.

As Seen on TV!


By Sue Brady

As Seen on TVPhilip Kives died last week. You might not realize that you know him, but you do. He revolutionized marketing by inventing the infomercial. Some in fact might call him the founder of direct response marketing.

Kives brought these classic products to us: the Pocket-Fisherman, the Miracle Brush, the Veg-O-Matic, and the Mood Ring.

Remember those commercials where the greatest hits of an era would play while the song list scrolled up your TV screen? You guessed it, Philip Kives. He had a great idea and he made millions with it.

He grew up poor, living with his parents on their farm in a tiny town in Canada. After graduating from high school, he successfully sold products door to door, such as vacuum cleaners and cookware, earning $29,000 in 1959, a small fortune. In his early 30s, he figured out that TV would be a more efficient way to reach people, and so the infomercial was born. And in 1963, Kives founded the company called K-tel International.

The very first infomercial ever produced was for a Teflon non-stick fry pan, and it was produced by Kives. He was 32. Turned out that Teflon might help keep food from sticking, but it didn’t stick so well to the frying pan itself. So Kives looked for other things to sell. He bought a bunch of products from Seymour Popeil, father of Ron Popeil, the guy who coined the phrase “but wait, there’s more,” and was successful using TV to sell huge volumes.

Three years later, for no apparent reason, he traveled to Australia with an infomercial he had made himself, selling the Feather Touch Knife, another product he bought from Popeil. In five months’ time, he had sold a million knives, earning $1 per knife for himself. Popeil decided to stop selling his products to Kives, instead selling his products himself through his son’s company, Ronco.

That change forced Kives to start finding and developing his own products, and that’s when he hit on the jackpot: compilation hit song records. His company sold 500 million albums by 1983!

Kives perfected the all important call-to-action. His messages were compelling and simple, and his audience responded. Tell your viewers what the product does and how it benefits them, create a sense of urgency, and encourage them to buy.

“Only available through this very special TV offer”

“Buy now while supplies last”

“Snap up one of the first 30,000 LPs”

Eamonn Forde (@Eamonn_Forde) writing for The Guardian summed up Kives style perfectly:

“His approach to sales was unapologetically mainstream. The marketing language was simple and unswerving at a time when, as illustrated by Mad Men, the advertising industry was attempting to elevate itself to a level of erudition and sophistication that perhaps it didn’t quite deserve. For Kives, the sales message should have no space for indulgence or purple prose.”Veg-o-matic

You’re probably familiar with the ‘As Seen on TV Logo’. Yep. That’s Philip Kives. For many years, this trademarked logo could only be used if you paid for the rights to do so (and you were selling a product that was sold in this way). Now this iconic image is considered a part of the public domain, so anyone is free to use it.

But wait, there’s more! Don’t we wish…