Sales Moves

What’s your proactive marketing approach to loyalty

September 24, 2012
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Dear Jeffrey, I am a huge fan. Today I had a WOW experience that completely coincides with your philosophy on customer loyalty versus satisfaction. I received the following email from Amazon:

“Hello. We noticed that you experienced poor video playback while watching the following rental on Amazon Video On Demand: The Hunger Games. We're sorry for the inconvenience and have issued you a refund for the following amount: $3.99. While Amazon Video On Demand transactions are typically not refundable, we are happy to make an exception in this case. This refund should be processed within the next 2 to 3 business days and will appear on your next billing statement for the same credit card used to purchase this item.”

This is amazing to me for a few reasons. Yes, I did notice that my movie was buffering more than usual and, yes, it was annoying. However, it was nothing more than a minor frustration. I didn't complain. I didn't complete a survey or give any feedback about this experience. Truthfully, until I received this email, I hadn't given it a second thought.

When I got this email, it stopped me in my tracks. They noticed that this particular experience was below their normal standards. But what's more important, they noticed without me telling them.

Good companies would refund my money if I complained. Of course they would, that is expected. But I never have had a company refund my money without being prompted. Never. And this was a surprise.

Would I have used them again even if they did not refund my money? Yes, often. So what's the difference? I wouldn't have referred them. I received this email today at 2:18 pm. Since then, I have told all my coworkers I came in contact with, posted this on my Facebook wall, and now am writing you.

Amazon lost $4 today, but they gained a customer for life! It was so impressive, I had to share. Make it a great day, Candace

Brilliant, eh? Proactive, memorable service.

Amazon is monitoring the quality of its streaming bandwidth and can identify quality issues. Then, they do something about it. No waste of time and money “survey,” no phony empty apology — just a good, old-fashioned admission of guilt and a proactive refund for poor performance.

My bet is Amazon has given thousands of these, and the same customer response has happened with every one of them. What a strategy! “Let’s make sure the customer experience was great, or let’s give them a refund.”

Simple. Powerful. Profitable. Give up $4 to earn thousands. I wonder who thought that one up? Certainly not Amazon’s advertising agency.

Look at the elements of business and sales as a result of Amazon’s action, and customer reaction: a huge wow, several social postings, more social proof, an amazing testimonial, customer loyalty, and pass-along value that cannot be measured on any ROI scale.

Amazon’s actions breed return on proactive, memorable service — the WOW factor, social response and customer word-of-mouth. It’s way beyond “priceless”; in the long term, it’s worth a fortune.

Here’s your lesson: You can invest in some marketing program to reach new people, or you can invest in giving your existing customers the best service possible, and let them find new people for you.

Prediction: I’ll bet the investment in existing customer experience is one-10th the cost of any marketing program. In fact, I doubt this type of outreach is even on a marketing team’s mindset. They’re still in the Stone Age measuring “ROI.”

Amazon has led the Internet all the way with vision and tenacity; quality and value; ease of doing business; buy with one click; suggestive buying and published reviews; not just price, delivery.

And now add to that list: proactive WOW interaction. Amazon dominates because it differentiates. It dominates because it innovates.

Amazon doesn’t study the market: It creates it (like Apple). Most marketing studies are a CYA act of companies afraid to make mistakes, let alone be bold.

Take this lesson to heart — and take it to your customers. If you come up with something creatively compelling, you can also take it to the bank!

Jeffrey Gitomer’s website, www.gitomer.com, has more information about training, seminars and webinars, or email him at salesman@gitomer.com

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