Passionate Customers

My recent posts about Starbucks gave me an opportunity to research what other people were saying. Not surprisingly, a lot of people are very passionate about what Starbucks is up to. A few bloggers have even started some very interesting conversations, such as Becky Carroll (Customers Rock!) and Jay Ehret (The Marketing Spot). Carroll and Ehret are collaborating on what they call "The Starbucks Project" to help "Howard get it right." (Howard Schultz is the CEO of Starbucks.)

This got me thinking - how nice would it be if we all had customers who were so passionate about our products and services they went to great lengths to give us feedback and help us get it right.

  • I love Jimmy Dean sausage, but this guy takes it to the next level. Listen to his complaint call (careful, his language is a bit 'colorful').
  • is a fan club website with pages for many companies (including In-n-Out!).
  • Fans, regular customers, and employees can all interact at Get Satisfaction. Check out the examples on the Timbuk2 page.
  • Burger King even tried to create this sort of 'consumer enthusiasm' with their Whopper Freakout campaign.

What can we do about it?

Creating a passionate, self-motivated base of fanatical customers is both an art and a science. This could be a big discussion, but here are my top 3 strategies.

Strategy #1: Be consistent. I love In-N-Out and they rekindle that romance every time I visit, no matter which store I go to. Their service is always enthusasiatic and friendly and the product is always good. Very few companies can achieve this level of consistency.

Strategy #2: Resolve problems like a hero. This is the classic 'hero' opportunity. A customer experiences a problem and someone becomes a hero by swooping in to save the day. Kearny Mesa Acura in San Diego does a great job here. I've occasionally experienced a problem in the service department, but they've always made it right and then some.

Strategy #3: Overdeliver. The best strategy is to give customers more than they expect. The Prado Restaurant in San Diego is outstanding in this aspect. I can distinctly remember many times I've been there because they almost always incorporate an unexpected surprise. The ambience and food are both outstanding, but the service even surpasses both.