Self Help

The Cult of the Customer - Hyken, Shep_

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Matheus Puppe

· 34 min read



Here is a summary of the key points from the book description:

  • The book is about creating an amazing customer experience that turns satisfied customers into “customer evangelists” who actively promote your business.

  • Author Shep Hyken has studied successful companies to understand how they create loyal customers who rave about them.

  • The book outlines a strategy to take customers through 5 “cultural phases” - from uncertainty to amazement.

  • It presents case studies of companies that made this journey and provides lessons on how to build a “Cult of the Customer.”

  • The goal is to create happy customers and employees, leading to a successful company.

  • Tactics include making changes internally and externally to build strong customer relationships.

  • Hyken argues that in today’s competitive climate, you can’t just satisfy customers, you have to go above and beyond to wow them with memorable experiences that turn them into evangelists.

In summary, the book provides a roadmap for companies to transform their culture into one that prioritizes and excels at customer experience, ultimately driving growth through customer loyalty and referrals. The key is creating “Moments of Magic” that connect emotionally with customers and employees.

Here is a summary of the key points in the story:

  • A genie meets three entrepreneurs who want to open ice cream shops and promises to grant them each one wish if it will ensure the success of their business.

  • The first entrepreneur wishes for the best ice cream in the world, but the genie says this would not guarantee success.

  • The second entrepreneur wishes for the best location in the world, but again the genie says this would not guarantee success.

  • The third entrepreneur does not wish for the best ice cream or location. Instead, she wishes for a never-ending supply of loyal customers lined up outside her shop.

  • The implication is that having loyal, devoted customers is the most important factor for the success of a business, more so than having the best product or location. The story emphasizes the importance of building strong customer relationships and loyalty.

Here are a few key points about the “cult of the customer” concept:

  • It is a strategy for consistently delivering exceptional customer experiences that go beyond just satisfaction to amazement.

  • The goal is to create “Moments of Magic” - positive touchpoints and interactions that delight customers. These moments create emotional connections and loyalty.

  • It requires developing a culture focused on customers, with both internal and external customer relationships.

  • The “cult” terminology refers to an extreme devotion and passion for customers and their experience. It’s about making customer obsession a way of operating.

  • It aims to turn satisfied customers into loyal evangelists who enthusiastically promote you. Satisfaction is not enough anymore.

  • The rewards for building a “cult of the customer” and amazing experiences are increased loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, and higher profits. But it requires investment and effort to build.

  • It represents a specific system of beliefs and practices centered around customer amazement, rather than just adequate service.

In summary, the “cult of the customer” is about making an exceptional customer experience your organization’s top priority and way of doing business through focus, devotion, and creating emotional connections. The goal is loyal brand evangelists.

Here are the key takeaways from this section:

  • The purpose of a business is to get and keep customers, not just make money. Customer loyalty and retention is the ultimate goal.

  • Satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers. Loyalty comes from consistently positive total customer experiences that go beyond basic satisfaction.

  • There are five levels of customer cults, with the cult of amazement being the highest. This is where customers become evangelists and promoters of your business.

  • Reaching the cult of amazement requires consistently delivering “Moments of Magic” - experiences that are above average and memorable. It’s about consistency in providing an excellent overall experience.

  • To progress through the cults and reach the pinnacle of amazement, businesses must first take their own employees through those cult levels internally. Employees must become loyal evangelists themselves before they can create external evangelists.

The key is consistency in delivering above-average experiences, creating confidence and emotional connections, to turn customers into ardent fans and advocates. This leads to loyalty, referrals, and repeat business.

The book discusses three “service forces” that can deliver an amazing customer experience:

  1. The Force of One - When an individual employee provides exceptional service on their own, even if the larger organization is not focused on great service. The “Frank the Cabdriver” story exemplifies this.

  2. The Force Within - When an individual employee provides great service as part of a larger organization that is not service-focused. The “Harold at Anonymous Airlines” story exemplifies this.

  3. The Force of Many - When an entire organization is focused on providing an amazing customer experience. The Ritz-Carlton hotel story exemplifies this, where multiple employees came together to provide an amazing experience.

The key is that just one person operating with the “cult of amazement” mindset can deliver an amazing experience. You don’t need the entire organization onboard initially. But when the entire organization embodies this service mentality, it enables consistently amazing experiences. Mistakes may still happen, but recovery is swift.

  • The “cult of uncertainty” is the lowest stage on the continuum of customer service. It is inconsistent and potentially alienating for customers and employees.

  • In the cult of uncertainty, service levels fluctuate - sometimes good, sometimes bad. Customers have unreliable experiences. There is no consistent process or guiding vision.

  • It takes a lot of effort for organizations to move out of the cult of uncertainty into the next stage (the cult of alignment). Once they make that breakthrough, progress gets easier.

  • An example is provided of Mike Hardhead, CEO of WidgetBlue. He operates in the cult of uncertainty, as evidenced by his dishonest interaction with a former mentor, his lack of vision, and his focus on short-term goals rather than building relationships.

  • The key takeaway is that the cult of uncertainty delivers inconsistent service and experiences. It lacks process and vision. Moving past uncertainty requires tremendous effort but enables progress.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Mike is the CEO of WidgetBlue, a company that makes industrial widgets.

  • One of Mike’s biggest customers, BigCo, recently left WidgetBlue and went to a competitor, Harlan Love.

  • When Mike confronted Harlan Love, Love told him that BigCo came to them because they were simply satisfied with WidgetBlue, not loyal.

  • Mike realizes his customers are satisfied but not loyal or delighted, making his company vulnerable.

  • Mike had created a culture of “don’t get caught” where mistakes were punished, not improved upon. This led to an error-avoidance rather than customer experience focus.

  • Mike’s standards were too low - he thought satisfaction equaled loyalty. He didn’t ask customers the right specific questions.

  • Mike needs to acknowledge WidgetBlue is operating under the “cult of uncertainty”, where service and processes are inconsistent. Moving beyond this requires effort from everyone at the company.

Here are the key points about Progressive’s alignment:

  • Progressive has a clear and memorable mantra: “You could save hundreds!” This promises value to the customer.

  • The mantra is supported by Progressive’s customer-focused website. The site helps customers compare rates and save money, even showing competitors’ lower rates if they are cheaper.

  • The mantra and website align the company around the goal of saving customers money on car insurance. This creates a consistent customer experience.

  • By focusing on saving customers money, Progressive builds trust and demonstrates they have the customer’s interests at heart. This aligns the company culture and values with the customer experience.

  • Overall, Progressive’s mantra, website, and focus on saving customers money show strong alignment between their brand promise, culture, and customer experience. This creates consistency and trust for the customer.

Here are the key points about the cult of experience from the passage:

  • The cult of experience is marked by actions that support the mantra established in the cult of alignment.

  • The author shares a story about going skydiving for the first time as an example of a memorable experience. The sensation was exhilarating and felt more like floating than falling.

  • Memorable experiences engage the senses, emotions, and intellect. Skydiving stimulated the author’s senses and emotions.

  • Companies in the cult of experience orchestrate experiences intentionally to connect emotionally with customers.

  • Experiences are personal and subjective. Companies should know what experiences customers desire.

  • In the cult of experience, companies move from talking about fulfilling the brand promise to actually doing it.

  • Actions, operations, and processes are designed around creating the experience promised to customers.

  • The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company excels at orchestrating personalized, emotional experiences for guests.

In summary, the cult of experience focuses on taking actions to deliver on the brand promise and create memorable customer experiences that emotionally engage customers. Companies design processes and operations around fulfilling the desired customer experience.

Here is a summary of the key points about how the author, his mom, and his son each processed their initial experience of skydiving differently:

  • The author remembers the feeling when the wind first hit him after exiting the plane. His mom doesn’t recall this feeling at all.

  • The author remembers going through the clouds. His son doesn’t remember that.

  • The skydiving instructor told the author it’s common for people to have very different memories and experiences about their first jump. It takes 3-4 jumps for the brain to comprehend everything about the experience.

  • Right now, the author, his mom, and his son would describe the jump very differently, because they are still in the “experience” phase and haven’t reached “ownership” of skydiving yet.

  • After a few more jumps, they will likely have the same point of reference and understanding of the experience. But the initial experience phase must come first before ownership can occur.

  • The author draws a parallel to a customer’s first interactions with a company like WidgetBlue. The initial experiences may be positive but the customer doesn’t necessarily recall all details accurately yet. After 3-4 interactions, the customer starts to “own” the experience and know what to expect.

Here is a summary of the key points about the cult of ownership:

  • Ownership is marked by a sense of belonging that comes from predictable, positive experiences in the cult of experience. It’s the feeling of being in the right place and wanting to stay there.

  • For employees, ownership means truly belonging in a workplace you love going to every day. You anticipate the positive experiences you’ll have with coworkers, customers, and your work.

  • Ownership provides the momentum that takes employees and customers to the highest cult - the cult of amazement. It’s the natural extension of the cult of experience.

  • Ownership happens when positive experiences become the norm and are created intentionally, not by accident. Management asks questions that generate pathways to positive outcomes.

  • Employees know these questions will be asked regularly, so they proactively create better experiences for internal and external customers.

  • At its highest level, ownership means employees have a sense of belonging and predictability. They know what to expect and they like it. This momentum propels the organization towards amazement.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Management can accelerate the ownership process by asking “accelerator questions” regularly to foster innovation and improvement.

  • At WidgetBlue, Mike had managers hold meetings asking employees for “Moments of Magic” stories about delighting customers or coworkers, and “Moments of Innovation” ideas for improving the company.

  • Sharing these stories and ideas helped build an ownership culture even if the ideas weren’t implemented. The participation was reinforced.

  • Zappos has grown rapidly by empowering employees to provide great service and embrace the company’s “WOW” philosophy. They invest in culture and will even pay people to quit if they don’t fit.

  • Clues that a company has reached the Ownership stage include high employee engagement, retention, processes that empower employees, sharing Moments of Magic stories, and regular discussion of innovations.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passage:

  • The cult of amazement is characterized by a sense of loyalty and belonging within a community of insiders who want to recruit others into that community, turning customers and employees into evangelists.

  • Amazement occurs when customers have predictably positive experiences that make them passionate advocates for the product or company. This happens at Big Green Egg due to the fantastic product and excellent customer support.

  • Big Green Egg has created a community of “Eggheads” - enthusiasts who love to recruit others to use Big Green Eggs. The founder recognizes these loyal customers are key to the company’s success.

  • The cult of amazement allows for forgiveness - if a company provides an extremely positive and predictable experience, customers will give them second chances when problems occur.

  • Evangelists have enthusiasm that allows them to work through any problems because they trust the company. Fixing problems creates more confidence among evangelists.

  • Amazement turns customers and employees into loyal advocates who keep coming back, making shareholders happy. Mike was able to revive his company’s culture by focusing on a mantra, asking questions, and creating happier managers, employees, and customers.

  • Mike’s leadership at WidgetBlue reinstated a culture of innovation and service, which led previous customers to give the company another chance. These customers eventually became evangelists for WidgetBlue.

  • WidgetBlue’s margins improved as customers who were willing to evangelize bought more upscale products and committed to long-term deals. Mike attributes this to the company’s focus on solving problems inside and outside the organization.

  • Companies that operate at the cult of amazement level can overcome price sensitivity, as customers value the relationship and experience more than just low prices. Disney retains employees through a sense of belonging and contribution, not just compensation.

  • Apple has built a community of evangelist iPod users through positive experiences and strategic pursuit of key segments like students. Products like the iPod create a halo effect.

  • The summary shows how operating at the cult of amazement level leads to evangelists, higher margins, and overcoming price sensitivity through valued relationships and experiences. Mike’s leadership shifted WidgetBlue’s culture to achieve these outcomes.

Here are the key points about how Wainwright Industries delivers internal amazement:

  • Wainwright Industries is a manufacturer of aerospace, IT, and home security components.

  • Its CEO and chairman, Don Wainwright, is renowned for his leadership in team building, quality, efficiency, and customer service.

  • Wainwright treats employees as internal customers by providing excellent pay and benefits, training, empowerment, and open communication.

  • Employees are encouraged to take risks and are not punished for honest mistakes. There is a strong culture of trust.

  • This internal focus on employees enables them to deliver outstanding service to external customers.

  • Wainwright’s philosophy is that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. Treating employees well is not seen as an expense but as an investment.

  • The results speak for themselves - Wainwright has won many awards for quality and customer satisfaction over decades in business.

  • Wainwright exemplifies how an internal focus on amazement enables the delivery of external amazement. The company shows this approach is realistic, strategic, and leads to success.

Here is a summary of the key points about Don Wainwright and his leadership strategies:

  • Don Wainwright was the CEO of Wainwright Industries, a manufacturing company. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, his company was struggling and losing competitive edge due to foreign competition.

  • Wainwright made major changes to transform his company’s culture and empower employees:

  • Eliminated time cards and made everyone salaried

  • Changed frontline job titles to “associates”

  • Instituted uniforms to erase labor/management divide

  • Opened company books to all employees

  • Implemented an employee profit-sharing program

  • Committed to training employees in transferable skills

  • Wainwright’s most impactful change was implementing a suggestion program where every employee had to submit one idea per week on how to improve the company. This generated over 12,000 ideas per year and got all employees continuously thinking about improvements.

  • The suggestion program, along with other cultural changes, led to tremendous results:

  • Employee satisfaction and attendance soared

  • Customer satisfaction reached 95%

  • Company revenues grew past $100 million

  • Key lessons from Wainwright:

  • Engage employees by soliciting their input and showing you value their opinions

  • Make employees’ interests a priority

  • Build trust by keeping promises, admitting mistakes, including employees in decisions

  • Turn employees’ “moments of misery” into “moments of magic” by addressing their grievances

  • Anticipate and address employee needs proactively

  • Deliver experiences that make employees think “I can’t believe I get to work here!”

Here are the key points from the chapter on creating an amazing external experience for customers:

  • Make the right brand promise and follow through consistently. Align your customers with the brand experience you want to deliver.

  • Deliver on your brand promise over and over to build customer confidence and create evangelists. Exceed expectations to outperform competitors.

  • You don’t have to “wow” every time, but you must deliver a consistently above-average experience. This will build a community of loyal customers.

  • Use rituals and routines to reinforce your brand promise. Make it easy for customers to align with your desired experience.

  • Eliminate uncertainty and vagueness around your brand promise. Be crystal clear on what you commit to customers.

  • Celebrate and share stories publicly about employees who deliver amazing experiences. This reinforces the brand.

  • Invite customer feedback and act on it. This shows you care about their experience with your brand.

  • Build two-way communication channels with customers to foster engagement and gather insights.

  • Create insider status and a feeling of belonging for your best customers. Make them feel special.

  • Develop systems to scale up the delivery of your brand promise as you grow. Operational excellence ensures consistency.

In summary, align your internal team and external customers with your desired brand experience through clarity, engagement, and consistently exceeding expectations. This creates a community of loyal evangelists.

Here is a summary of the key points about evangelists and amazement:

  • Panera Bread and Wegmans are two companies that have built strong communities of loyal customers (“evangelists”) by consistently amazing them with high quality products, great service, and a wonderful overall experience.

  • These evangelists enthusiastically promote and recommend these brands to others.

  • Sir Richard Branson is a master of creating amazement and attracting evangelists on a huge scale.

  • He lives his Virgin brand promise of facing overwhelming odds and giving challenges his all. This resonates with customers.

  • Branson exploits weaknesses of established competitors operating in the “cult of uncertainty” by offering a consistent, amazing customer experience (“cult of amazement”).

  • He enters industries dominated by big, complacent players and shakes them up by focusing on amazing customers.

  • By living his brand and consistently amazing customers with a “cult of amazement” approach, Branson has built an empire of over $4 billion and made Virgin one of the most admired brands.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Richard Branson has built the Virgin brand around the concept of “David vs Goliath” - portraying Virgin as the underdog taking on bigger, established competitors.

  • Virgin competes by focusing on delivering a better customer experience than the “big guys.”

  • Branson has cultivated his personal brand and Virgin’s brand through telling and retelling stories that support the David vs Goliath narrative. Key examples:

  • Launching Virgin Records to cater to a youth counterculture audience overlooked by mainstream labels.

  • Signing controversial punk band The Sex Pistols when other labels wouldn’t.

  • Launching Virgin Atlantic to compete with British Airways.

  • Suing British Airways for libel and dividing the settlement among Virgin staff.

  • Repeatedly entering new industries/ventures where experts predict he will fail, but succeeding through customer focus.

  • The recurring theme is Virgin positioning itself as the underdog who can treat customers better than the dominant players in an industry. This narrative engages customers emotionally.

Here are the key points about launching an amazement revolution:

  • There are three forces for amazement: Force of One (you alone control the customer experience), Force Within (you aim for amazement within a larger organization stuck in uncertainty), and Force of Many (you and your organization’s leadership are aligned on achieving amazement).

  • You must take control of both touch points and impact points.

  • Touch points are the interactions you have with customers where you can make an impression.

  • Impact points are the internal systems, processes, and culture that enable you to deliver amazing experiences during those touch points.

  • Focusing only on touch points or only impact points will not lead to sustainable amazement. You need both.

  • To control touch points: identify key interactions, observe them, improve them.

  • To control impact points: identify key internal factors, adjust them, align them with your amazement vision.

  • Leadership, training, incentives, hiring, and culture are example impact points to align.

  • Take small steps consistently over time. Amazement is a journey requiring continuous improvement of both touch points and impact points.

Does this help summarize the key ideas about launching an amazement revolution? Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!

Here is a summary of the key points about customer relationship management:

  • Jan Carlzon, former president of Scandinavian Airlines, coined the term “Moments of Truth” to describe critical interactions between a customer and a business. These touchpoints form impressions and influence customer perceptions.

  • Every business has touchpoints (customer-facing interactions) and impact points (behind-the-scenes processes). Both must be managed well to deliver a great customer experience.

  • Touchpoints and impact points are interrelated - you need to improve both simultaneously to transform the customer experience.

  • From the customer’s perspective, a single interaction can define the entire organization. Employees have an “awesome responsibility” to represent the brand through every interaction.

  • It’s important to stay customer-focused rather than operations-focused. An operations focus on internal processes can lead to Moments of Misery for customers if their needs are not prioritized.

  • To launch an “amazement revolution,” you need to continually refine touchpoints and impact points based on customer feedback and changes in the marketplace. Complacency will prevent you from reaching the “cult of amazement.”

  • Many healthcare workers have the technical skills for nursing but lack people skills needed to provide excellent customer service. This presents a challenge for hiring managers - hire for technical skills or people skills?

  • To build a customer-focused organization, hiring managers should:

  1. Hire for attitude over technical skills, and train skills later.

  2. Train constantly on both technical and soft skills like customer service.

  3. Recognize individual successes with authentic praise.

  4. Celebrate team successes when goals are achieved.

  5. Treat employees the way you want customers treated.

  • Six exercises are provided to help launch an amazement revolution:
  1. Identify all customer touch points.

  2. Identify touch points to turn one-time into repeat customers.

  3. Find weak touch points that could be Moments of Misery and strengthen them.

  4. Recognize behind-the-scenes impact points that support touch points.

  5. Identify weak impact points and brainstorm improvements.

  6. Review touch and impact points regularly and improve them.

  • Advice is provided for Forces of One, Forces Within, and company leaders with Forces Within on implementing these ideas. The key is to identify and spread the actions that create Moments of Magic.

Here are a few key lessons from the Little Things chapter:

  • Pay attention to small details in your customer experiences. Things like neatly arranging sugar packets or wiping down tray tables may seem insignificant, but they send a message about your standards and care for customers.

  • Don’t let little things slip through the cracks. Customers may draw broader conclusions about your business based on minor oversights.

  • Stay in regular contact with customers, even when you don’t have anything to sell them. Thoughtful touches like holiday cards help nurture relationships.

  • Make it easy for customers to give feedback. Providing comment cards or online surveys shows you value their input.

  • Personalize interactions when possible. Using customer names, remembering details about them, and adding unique touches makes people feel valued.

  • Go above and beyond on little things when you can. Small extra efforts like walking customers to their destination or expediting a service unexpectedly can delight them.

  • Empower all employees to handle little requests and problems on the spot. This creates a smooth, positive experience for customers.

  • Sweat the small stuff, because it adds up to customers’ overall perceptions of your business. Aim to get the little things right consistently.

Here are the key points about top sales performers in this excerpt:

  • They are very good at keeping in touch with clients and prospects regularly. They find excuses like birthdays, holidays, anniversaries etc. to reach out by phone, email or send articles.

  • These little contacts improve the relationship and experience between the salesperson and the customer.

  • There is no reason not to use this practice in any industry. It simply keeps the salesperson’s name in front of the customer and it works for employees too. Sending thank-you notes, holiday cards or congratulatory messages shows employees they are being thought of.

  • The key lesson is to reach out to customers and employees just to let them know you are thinking of them. This helps build relationships.

  • Problem solving involves thinking ahead to help a customer facing an unexpected challenge. Recovery means resolving an error or lapse that has occurred. Both present opportunities to create positive impressions.

  • American Express went above and beyond to quickly get a replacement card to a customer who had lost his wallet in Europe. This turned a negative situation into a positive experience.

  • The owner of the St. Louis Blues hockey team raised ticket prices, angering fans. He listened to their concerns, lowered prices, and communicated his commitment to earn back their loyalty.

  • A pet store chain threw pizza parties to reward accident-free quarters, boosting morale and saving on insurance costs. This solved an internal problem in a fun way.

  • At a restaurant, the server accidentally brought the wrong dish. But instead of just correcting the order, the manager comped the entire meal to apologize. This recovery created customer loyalty.

  • The key lessons are: think ahead to solve customer needs, listen to customers to understand problems, take action to resolve issues, communicate with customers, and turn recovery opportunities into positive impressions.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • The author’s friend Bob took his car to a national auto service chain for repairs totaling over $100.

  • A few days later while on vacation, the same problem reoccurred with Bob’s car, 200 miles away from the nearest service center location. Bob had to pay for the repair again at another shop.

  • When Bob returned, he told the original service center manager what happened. Despite the guarantee policy saying Bob had to return to that location, the manager apologized and credited Bob’s account for the amount he paid the second time.

  • The manager took personal responsibility, looked past the letter of the policy to do what was right, and gave Bob a credit rather than refund so he would have to return again. This turned a potential bad situation into a win-win.

  • Lessons: Sometimes company policies are too focused on the company rather than the customer. Look beyond policies to do what’s right. If you have to give something away, make it a credit to ensure the customer returns again.

  • The manager didn’t argue, just took care of the customer, showing policies should serve customers, not vice versa.

  • The author was staying at a hotel and checked out early. When he asked the front desk to arrange a cab to the airport, there was confusion because he was no longer a current guest.

  • The young woman at the front desk didn’t know how to charge him for the cab since he had checked out. The system was set up to only charge guests who were still checked in.

  • The hotel manager came up with a solution - he accepted payment as a “miscellaneous charge” and showed the front desk clerk how to be flexible to serve the customer’s needs.

  • This demonstrated the importance of customer-focused thinking and training employees to identify situations where rules can be bent to satisfy both company and customer.

  • Other examples given include a movie theater owner trusting customers when a ticket was lost, a company replacing all wheels on a fleet of trailers despite manufacturer only admitting fault for some, Johnson & Johnson recalling all Tylenol during tampering scare, Nordstrom empowering employees to use best judgment, and an airline agent going above and beyond to help a customer make a connection.

  • The overall lesson is to solve problems in a way that restores customer confidence, even if it means bending rules or policies. Empower employees to use good judgment to keep customers happy.

Here are the key points from the stories:

  • A fast food manager trained his staff to look for opportunities to provide small conveniences for customers, like rounding down a bill by a few cents. This created a better experience.

  • A banker took time to connect with a young customer personally rather than just looking at numbers, and was able to approve his mortgage. Treating customers like people creates opportunities.

  • A car dealer upgraded a loaner car for a customer at no charge so the customer could impress his own clients. Going above and beyond for loyal customers can have ripple effects.

  • Segway helped a customer who had bought a used Segway and needed parts, even though he had never directly purchased from them. Taking care of customers no matter what builds loyalty.

The theme is that organizations and people who look for opportunities to be better than average create memorable customer experiences. Going the extra mile when the situation allows sets companies apart from competitors.

Here are the key points from the chapter on proactive service and follow-through:

  • Take the initiative to provide great service instead of waiting for customers to ask. Disney employees walk out to greet and escort guests to the check-in desk.

  • Prioritize employee satisfaction. The Ritz-Carlton motto is “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” They empower employees to spend up to $2,000 to resolve customer issues.

  • Follow up after the initial service interaction. A car dealership followed up with a customer after she bought a car, leading her to choose them again for her next purchase.

  • Take accountability and fix problems, even if you didn’t cause them. A hotel manager took responsibility for a bad airport shuttle experience that wasn’t the hotel’s fault.

  • Go above and beyond with “random acts of kindness.” An appliance store owner drove out of his way to deliver a washer/dryer the customer had bought elsewhere.

  • Don’t underestimate the power of small gestures. Something as simple as a handwritten thank you note can create a loyal customer.

The key is to be proactive in finding ways to provide unexpectedly great service, follow through after the sale, take responsibility even when you’re not at fault, and go the extra mile whenever you can. Small gestures and random acts of kindness can pay big dividends.

  • The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain renovated the employee entrance of an existing hotel in Shanghai as the first phase of major renovations. This sent an important message to employees that they were valued and that a new standard of service was expected.

  • Shepard Presentations has a system of “pre-event touches” - planned contacts with clients before an event to build confidence. This includes calls from the trainer and owner.

  • Mortgage broker Vicki Groswald anticipated questions and followed through after the mortgage closed to ensure everything went smoothly. She looked “around corners” for her client.

  • The author personally calls past customers and vendors each December just to catch up and show appreciation, not to drum up new business. But new business results anyway.

  • Proactive service means solving problems before customers have to complain, like Southwest Airlines giving flight vouchers to weather-delayed passengers.

  • A hotel operator followed up a late night call about a cab by calling back with confirmation, building the author’s confidence that transportation would be ready in the morning.

The key lessons are: take initiative to treat employees well and they will treat customers well; proactively look for ways to build confidence and meet customer needs before being asked; follow through after the sale or service to ensure satisfaction.

Here is a summary of the key points about “The Art of WOW”:

  • Zappos exceeded a customer’s expectations by upgrading their shipping speed for free and letting them know via email. This created two “Moments of Magic” and generated great word-of-mouth marketing.

  • A Timbuk2 employee was empowered to give a refund without requiring the product to be returned, as long as the customer donated it. This showed flexibility and good intentions. The CEO was proud of this decision.

  • Nintendo invited a customer with a broken Wii to bring it to their campus to be fixed right away, while he waited. This solved the problem instantly and delighted the customer.

  • A restaurant owner picked up a customer who had been in a car accident to ensure he could still make his reservation. This showed amazing service recovery and commitment.

  • A hotel manager personally drove guests to the airport during a storm, to ensure they made their flight on time. This relieved a major source of stress.

The key lessons are to empower staff to go above and beyond, fix problems instantly, and relieve customer stress in creative ways to deliver wow moments.

Here is a summary of the key lessons:

  • Go above and beyond to help customers in need, even if the problem is not your fault. The restaurant owners who picked up the stranded travelers demonstrated extraordinary service.

  • Sometimes the best solution is to replace or upgrade a product, rather than attempt repairs. Apple generated a loyal customer by upgrading their computer.

  • Use positive attitudes and personal connections to turn bad situations into “Wow!” moments. The DHL driver’s friendliness transformed a late delivery into a positive experience.

  • Leverage contact with top executives when possible to impress customers. The CEO personally delivering a product and the banker answering emails make lasting impressions.

  • Take negative experiences like waiting and turn them into positives. The car dealership’s comfortable lounge area makes servicing cars enjoyable.

  • Do the small things that make a difference, like calling customers back quickly. The fastest callback among printers earned the business.

  • The key is to provide unexpected levels of service and connection to generate loyal, vocal fans of your business. Going the extra mile turns customers into evangelists.

Here are some tips for using the tools in this chapter to help move your organization towards the cult of amazement:

  • Have employees complete the “What Cult Are You In?” checklists individually first. Then discuss results as a team to get a sense of where you currently stand. Do this quarterly to track progress.

  • Complete the “What Cult Are You In?” assessment as a team. Discuss the results and answer the reflection questions below to gain insights into strengths, weaknesses, and next steps.

  • Use the WOW! Brainstorm form regularly to generate and capture new WOW! ideas. Make this an ongoing team effort.

  • Fill out the WOW! Cards individually when you experience or think of a WOW! moment. Share these with the team to spread the excitement and inspiration.

  • Post the WOW! Wall of Fame in a visible area and add new WOW! examples frequently to showcase achievements and reminders.

  • Conduct focused WOW! meetings where you review feedback forms, discuss challenges, ideate on improvements, and celebrate successes.

  • Implement regular mini-WOW projects to maintain momentum. These bite-sized efforts allow continuous improvement.

  • Appoint WOW! Advocates to champion the customer focus journey. Their role is to promote and ingrain the WOW! mindset.

  • Stay positive and patient on this journey. Culture change takes time so persist through difficulties. The rewards are worth it!

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • The Cult of Uncertainty is characterized by inconsistency, lack of vision/brand promise, poor communication, low employee engagement and motivation. Customers and employees have little confidence.

  • The Cult of Alignment involves creating a clear vision and brand promise. Employees understand and can communicate the brand promise. There is a focus on hiring the right people, training, surveying employees and customers, and becoming customer-focused.

  • The Cult of Experience builds on Alignment. Employees feel a sense of mission and are empowered to create good experiences for customers. There is positive feedback and recognition for employees. The customer begins to expect more.

  • To move through the cults requires ongoing commitment, especially to details. It takes constant attention to get out of Uncertainty, and even great companies can drift back. The tools and exercises provided are meant to be done regularly to assess progress and keep the focus on alignment and experience.

Here is a summary of the key points from the epilogue:

  • Mike, the CEO of WidgetBlue, has developed a habit of wandering around the company facilities late at night to meet new employees and get ideas.

  • One night he comes across Walt, a new janitor, muttering “What difference does it make?” while sweeping. This was once Mike’s own defeated mantra.

  • Mike startles Walt by introducing himself. He invites the nervous janitor up to his office to give him something - the same wise words his own mentor Harlan had once given Mike when he was feeling defeated.

  • Mike explains he shares these words, from a great man, with every new employee to inspire them. The words are: “If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.‘”

  • Mike tells Walt this advice transformed him from a defeated man to an inspiring leader. He urges Walt to see the dignity and importance in his own work, and to pursue excellence. They part ways, both transformed and uplifted.

Here is a summary of the key points about Shep Hyken:

  • Shep Hyken is a speaker, author, and customer service expert who helps companies build loyal relationships with customers and employees.

  • He has authored several books including “Moments of Magic” and “The Loyal Customer”. His articles have been published widely.

  • He created the Customer Focus program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.

  • In 1983, he founded Shepard Presentations, a speaking and training company focused on customer service.

  • Hyken is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and has been inducted into the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association.

  • He has worked with many major companies and organizations including Disney, USAA, Cisco, and American Express.

  • Hyken writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column called “The Customer Experience” that appears in over 100 papers.

  • His areas of expertise include customer service, customer loyalty, internal service, customer experience, and amazement. He aims to help companies create memorable experiences.

  • Key messages in his work are the importance of culture, amazement, alignment between employees and customers, and building loyal relationships. He emphasizes creating emotional connections.

In summary, Shep Hyken is an influential authority on customer loyalty and experience who has worked extensively with major companies to help improve their service culture and build lasting relationships. His speaking, writing, and consulting focus on strategic principles for amazing customer experiences.

  • Shep Hyken is a customer service expert who has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small businesses with under 50 employees. His clients include many major companies across industries.

  • Hyken’s most requested programs focus on customer service, loyalty, internal service, customer relations, and the customer experience. He is known for high-energy presentations that combine important information with entertainment like humor and magic.

  • Hyken has received prestigious speaking awards including the Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE) from the National Speakers Association and the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation.

  • His expertise is in helping companies create amazing customer experiences, build loyalty, and develop a strong service culture. Hyken has authored several books on these topics as well.

Here is a summary of the key points from chapters 4-8 on the five cults:

Chapter 4 - Uncertainty

  • The cult of uncertainty is when a company does not have a clear focus on the customer experience. Symptoms include inconsistent service, lack of training, and thinking customers are “pretty happy.”

Chapter 5 - Alignment

  • The cult of alignment is when a company rallies around a service mantra that articulates its commitment to customers. This creates consistency in the customer experience.

Chapter 6 - Experience

  • The cult of experience is when a company focuses on designing and delivering positive service experiences. Examples like Starbucks and PayPal show how initial experiences can gain momentum.

Chapter 7 - Ownership

  • The cult of ownership is when employees take personal responsibility for solving customer issues. Companies like Zappos empower employees to deliver great service.

Chapter 8 - Amazement

  • The cult of amazement is when customers are so wowed that they become evangelists for the company. Companies create moments of magic that turn customers into raving fans. Signs include forgiveness, word-of-mouth referrals, and repeat business.

In summary, the five cults represent stages of progress in creating an amazing customer experience, starting with uncertainty and leading to amazement and customer evangelism. The key is to rally the organization around service to customers.

Here is a summary of the key points from each chapter in The Cult of the Customer:

  • Chapter 1 introduces the concept of the “Cult of the Customer” - organizations that create fiercely loyal customers by exceeding expectations at every opportunity.

  • Chapter 2 explains the “Cult of Uncertainty” - organizations that are indifferent or hostile to customers.

  • Chapter 3 covers the “Cult of Alignment” - organizations that focus on processes over customers.

  • Chapter 4 discusses the “Cult of Experience” - organizations that create positive customer experiences.

  • Chapter 5 explores the “Cult of Ownership” - organizations that empower employees to take ownership of problems.

  • Chapter 6 examines the “Cult of Amazement” - organizations that go above and beyond to wow customers.

  • Chapter 7-16 provide examples and case studies of each cult in action.

  • Chapter 17 provides checklists and tools to assess which cult an organization falls into and how to move towards the Cult of the Customer.

The key message is that organizations should strive to create fiercely loyal customers by empowering employees, creating positive experiences, and exceeding expectations. The Cult of the Customer represents the pinnacle of customer service.

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About Matheus Puppe