Jason Fried, of Basecamp fame, made an interesting observation: “Customers don’t just buy a product – they switch from something else. And customers don’t just leave a product — they switch to something else.”
And he’s right.
When you lose a customer, that customer often doesn’t stop buying. They instead start buying something else.
Here’s the thing though:
While people think customers switch to other companies because other companies are better, cheaper, or [insert any benefit], you’ll find that’s often not the case.
Customers switch because the first company let them down. Customer switch because switching is personal. Customers switch because of how you make them FEEL. Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
And that’s why I’m going to share an interesting experience I had with this one coffee shop / bookstore. You’ll see how I willingly paid a premium for both my coffee and books for years…
…until they let me down and forced me to find another coffee shop. You’ll see how they lost themselves a customer and alienated a super fan.
How to Win Customers For Life
The video isn’t all negative. After I show you how to lose customers and alienate clients, I’ll show you how to win customers for life.
(Customers for life are the 20% of people who make up 80% of your revenue).
Watch the full video to learn more.
How To Lose Customers And Alienate Clients
I used to get my morning coffee every day from the same large bookstore chain and coffee shop. I’d also buy all of my books from the same place.
I was a loyal customer and wanted to support the store I frequented.
In fact, between expensive cappuccinos and how much I read, I was spending more than $1,000 a month at this place. And I was HAPPY about it.
Until one day it all went to the gutter…
All because this one cafe manager lost sight of the one thing that allows companies to thrive.
No matter how bad the economy is. No matter how much competition they have. No matter what.
I’m Derek Halpern, the founder of Social Triggers. And in this video, I explain what this company did to lose me as a customer, and how you can avoid the same mistake.
I’ll also share 2 more stories of companies that are doing it right, and what you can do to emulate them to make your business thrive.
Okay, so here’s the full story:
Like I said, I used to get my morning coffee from the same place everyday. And a couple times a month, I’d sit in their cafe and work.
The cafe had a rule that stated no one could occupy a cafe table for more than 90 minutes.
This was a rule they had to institute because some people would come in, get a free glass of water or one drink, and they’d sit there for 10 hours.
But that wasn’t me.
When I’d sit there, I’d get a cappuccino. 45 minutes later a bottle of water. 45 minutes later some food. 45 minutes later a book. 45 minute later another bottle of water. 45 minutes later another cappuccino. And a book. And a magazine.
The bottom line is: The days where I’d sit there for hours, I’d spend A LOT of money.
But one day, the cafe manager came to me and said, “Derek, you know our rules say you can only sit here for 90 minutes.”
Color me shocked.
I looked around and the place was empty. There was no one fighting for seats. And as a matter of fact, I had JUST ordered some more food to eat.
I looked up and said, “Really? I know why you have this rule, and I support it. But don’t you think this rule shouldn’t apply to people who regularly buy stuff throughout the day like I do?”
She said, “No.”
I packed up my stuff, left the bookstore, and I knew I’d never go back.
When I called the store manager later that day, he agreed with me and apologized. He even offered me a complimentary coffee the next time I came in. But it was too late. I was never going back.
They lost me as a loyal customer because they lost sight of the ONE thing that allows companies to thrive today.
What’s that one thing?
You’re not in the business of getting more customers. You’re in the business of getting one more customer for life.
And then another one. And another one.
What is a customer for life?
It’s someone who supports you and your business, will frequently buy from you, and will consistently refer more people to your business.
These are the people who, when totaled, will make up 80% of your revenue.
In fact, your customers for life are the ones who allow you to be successful today, tomorrow, and for the rest of time.
And it’s your job as a business owner to keep your customers for life HAPPY. Because of THEM, you can pay the bills. Because of THEM, you’ll go from scraping by to being flush with wealth.
And guess what? The companies who know this – the companies who LIVE this – are the companies who are killing it today.
The question is:
How can YOU get customers for life?
Should you allow good customers to break the rules? Should you spend a considerable amount of money appeasing these divas?
It’s actually more simple than that.
And to illuminate it for you, I want to share two more stories of companies doing it right.
Here’s the first:
I sometimes work out of a private, membership-only coworking space called Neuehouse. It’s a great place to work because it’s got great coffee, food, and of course, internet.
I was working there one day and ordered the daily special: a shrimp salad. A few minutes after taking my order, Amelia, the food and beverage manager, came over to my table and apologized profusely.
I’m so sorry. We’re out of that. But here’s what I can do. You can order anything else on the menu and we’ll give it to you for free today.
WHAT? They ran out of what I ordered and to make up for it, they wanted to give me something for FREE?
That never happens. Usually when a restaurant runs out of something, they apologize by saying, “Sorry, we’re out of that. It was so good it sold out quickly.”
And I’d always think, “Thanks buddy. Thanks for telling me how good something is that you don’t have anymore.”
But Neuehouse didn’t do that. They offered me something else for free. A nice, unwarranted, gesture.
And that’s when I got to thinking about Neuehouse as a whole, as a business, as a coworking space.
Everyone who works there loves working there. They love being part of the community.
And their members, people like me, also love being part of the community.
I believe it’s because they embrace this concept of nurturing customers for life. Their actions with me proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
And you know what?
That day, when Amelia came to me with that nice gesture, she turned me from a customer into a customer for life.
Someone who will remain a member of this private, membership-only coworking space for years to come.
The question is:
How can you do the same thing for your business? How can you earn customers for life without giving away the farm?
Keep watching and you’ll soon see it’s much easier than you think.
And to better explain it, I’ve got one last story for you.
Back when I was in the middle of a launch of a brand new online training, someone emailed me and said:
“Derek, I’m currently enrolled in another training. Do you think I should enroll in this right now or should I hold off?”
To which, I responded:
“No. I think you should complete the other training. Going through two trainings at once can be overwhelming.”
I essentially RUINED the sale for myself. I could have said, “Yes, go for it!”
And given him a list of reasons for why he should enroll now instead of wait. And I know he would have signed up – 100%.
But I knew it wouldn’t have been in his best interest. Going through too many courses at once is information overload.
So, I told him no. And I lost a sale.
Now, take a guess what he said after I told him no. He said:
“No BS answer. You have a customer for life.”
And you know what?
I believe him.
He will be a customer for life. And he will end up buying several things from me over the next 10 years.
And those future sales will be worth more to me, my community, and my business than that one sale I said no to.
Now, if you’re still here, this is probably getting more clear for you. You might already understand how you, as a business owner or entrepreneur, can start to win customers for life.
But just in case it’s not clear yet, let me share this quote from Maya Angelou:
People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.
And that’s the truth. What the bookstore failed to do, and what Neuehouse and Social Triggers succeeded in doing, was to make the customer feel like the company truly has his best interest at heart.
It’s not about the time limit at the bookstore cafe. It’s not about the free meal at Neuehouse. It’s not about me saying no to a sale.
It’s ALL about how you make your customers feel when you interact with them.
And you don’t have to give away the farm.
But you do have to show your customers that you truly have their best interests at heart.
And when you do that, you’ll seem them turn from customers into customers for life.
You might kind of know all this already. It’s not rocket science, after all. In theory, it’s so simple, but in practice, many companies fail to implement.
And the cafe manager at the bookstore certainly did fail to implement it. She could have said:
“Derek, I know you’re one of our most loyal customers, but we’ve got this new rule here. And if I don’t enforce it, I could get in trouble. Would it be an inconvenience to…”
And I would have understood. In fact, I would have wanted to help her out. I saw her everyday of the week for years. It’s the least I could have done.
Or, in Neuehouse’s case, when Amelia offered me a free meal. It wasn’t about the meal. Or the fact that it was free.
It was that she truly understood how frustrating it is for a customer who can’t get what he wants.
And to help me go from frustrated to happy, she offered something free as a way to change the tide.
But here’s the thing:
She didn’t even have to give me something for free. She could have easily just of apologized and said, “I hate it when that happens. I’m so sorry about it. Know that going forward, we’re going to work hard to make sure nothing like this happens again.”
And that would have worked.
Because I would have known that they were sorry and that they were working on getting better.
And how about that guy who emailed me?
Again, I could have sold him. And I would have been successful.
But what would have happened if he bought?
He would have been overwhelmed with too much information. I would have money in my pocket, but he would have felt horrible.
And that would have left a sour taste in his mouth about my program and the other program he was doing.
Would he have ever bought something from me again?
So, when I told him I didn’t want him to buy it because of information overload, I showed him it wasn’t about me and money. It was about him, his hopes, his dreams, and HIS goals.
And that made him feel amazing.
And I won a customer for life.
So, what’s the BIG tip for you? How can you turn customers into customers for life?
You need to truthfully put your customers at the center of your world. You need to do it FOR THEM.
And if you’re genuine about it, they’ll notice. ANd that’s how you’ll tip them from customer to customer to life.
But I do want you to notice one thing:
You can just as easily turn a customer for life into someone who never frequents your business again.
All it takes is one single mistake.
So, how do you win customers for life?
Put your customer best interest at heart and keep it there.
Now, I have a quick question for you:
Can you remember a time when a company truly had your best interest at heart? What did they do? How did it make you feel?
Leave a comment below.
We’re bombarded with everything that’s wrong in the world,
But today I want to hear about the good guys.
So, leave a comment below and reward great behavior.
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