GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
What do Apple, Zappos, and Chick-fil-A have in common? They are considered “rockstar” brands. Their loyal customers—and they have many—keep coming back and evangelizing these brands, singing their praises to the world. The customers are also willing to defend their favorite brand should someone say something negative about it.
There is a word to describe these types of customers. They are fans, and more specifically, they are superfans. Brittany Hodak may be the foremost expert on the concept of creating superfans in business. In her recently published book, Creating Superfans: How to Turn Your Customers Into Lifelong Advocates, she defines a superfan as “a customer or stakeholder who is so delighted by their experience with a brand, product or service that they become an enthusiastic advocate.”
Hodak’s mantra is:
If your customers aren’t telling their friends about you, you’re in trouble.
So, how do you get your customers to come back, defend your reputation, and spread compliments about you? Follow Hodak’s SUPER model. The word SUPER is an acronym. To whet your appetite for this important literary contribution to the world of customer experience, I’ll share what each letter of the acronym means, followed by my commentary. Some of this is my own interpretation of Hodak’s model, but you will get the idea. So, here is Brittany Hodak’s SUPER model:
- S – Start With Your Story: Sharing your “story” is powerful. Just make sure it’s the story that will get your customer excited about doing business with you. How should it start? Ask yourself, “Why does a customer want to do business with us (instead of our competition)?” Responses that are truly different will be important to the story. Hodak says, “Your story is your superpower.”
- U – Understand Your Customer’s Story: Why do customers need you? The answer is their story, and when their story intersects with yours, you have the opportunity to do business, grow the relationship and create a superfan.
- P – Personalize: The concept of personalizing the experience is a hot topic. Using data about the customer (in the right way) will create a connection. Abuse the data, and the customer will disassociate from you. Hodak uses Chewy, the online pet food, and supply retailer. The company not only know its customers’ buying habits but also often knows their pets’ names—and they use that information to create a better relationship and emotional connection with the customers. This is an excellent example of personalization.
- E – Exceed Expectations: People often think exceeding expectations is difficult. The reason is because they confuse exceeding expectations with going above and beyond. There are opportunities to do that in special situations, but most of the time, you just need to be a little better than expected. Even the slightest bit better. When you’re at a restaurant, and you are told the wait will be ten minutes, but your name is called in eight minutes, that’s an example of exceeding expectations by being slightly better than expected. The key is to do this consistently. You want your customers to use the word always followed by something positive, such as, “They are always helpful,” to describe their experience with you.
- R – Repeat: I love the idea of repeat. Create the system with an outcome that drives a positive customer experience every time. The key word here is system. A system can be scaled and is repeatable. It is consistent, and customers love consistency. If the initial experience was good, the next time they come back, they want more of the same. When it happens again and again, the customer “owns” the experience. They can count on it happening. Their confidence about the experience is so high they not only come back, but they also tell others. Creating superfans is an everyday, never-ending effort. Do what works again and again.
Okay, I admit it. I’m a Brittany Hodak superfan. I fall under the category of evangelizing her brand, and recommending her to clients, and now I’m writing about her book. I’m a perfect example of one of the ways Hodak describes a superfan, which is a great way to wrap up this article:
Superfans are customers who create more customers!
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.
Image Credit: Shep Hyken
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