THE CUSTOMER AS EVANGELIST.
I heard a past and favourite mentor of mine, Ray Tobin of Salessource , on the radio last week using the analogy of ''evangelist'' to describe customers who spread the word about exceptional service that they have received.By definition, evangelists are people who are ''marked by extreme enthusiasm for or support of any cause, particularly but not necessarily with regard to religion''.
It's a powerful word compared to the rather milder ''referrel'' or ''recommendation'' and in order to achieve that sort of accolade exceptional service must surely be required as a minimum.
So I researched the topic a little further and found a book by Ben McConnell and Jackie Hubba called Creating Customer Evangelism. According to McConnell as minimum a company must achieve the following benchmarks,
- Customer plus-delta: Continuously gather customer feedback.
- Napsterize knowledge: Make it a point to share knowledge freely.
- Build the buzz: Expertly build word-of-mouth networks.
- Create community: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.
- Make bite-size chunks: Devise specialised, smaller offerings to get customers to bite.
- Create a cause: Focus on making the world, or your industry, better.
In their book, they provide several American examples of companies who have succeeded in building such relationships with their customers and have succeeded often against odds which sank their opponents.
At Heffernan Tyres we know that many of our new customers come to us as result of having been told by their friends and family of the quality shopping experience they have had at our depot.
Every year we expand our reach geographically to neighbouring towns and counties. We have a loyal customer base from towns including Naas, Newbridge, Carlow, Portlaoise and of course Dublin. All of these towns have large independent and Multi National Branded tyre businesses with advertising budgets to spread their own messages. Yet it is the strength of the personal experience that prevails.
It is the professionalism and friendliness of our reception staff that makes the customer feel welcome when they visit. Their consultative non pushy style of selling that makes them feel relaxed. The little extras of fresh coffee, Newspapers, Wi-Fi and clean comfortable surroundings that sets us apart from the others and generates the sort of customer evangelism that Ray described in his radio segment.
We will examine the other criteria as set out by McConnnell and Hubba and always strive for better. In the meantime we would like to thank all our customers who have recommended us to friends and family. We would welcome any feedback through our reception, facebook, twitter or website and look forward to seeing you at our depot.