Create Superior Customer Experiences
This week, I’m stepping away from last week’s column on increasing average order value in your call center to share a personal experience from which all multichannel marketers can learn. Next week, I’ll be back with part two of that series. I felt this was topic was so fresh in my mind that it would be worth saving the second part until next week.
I enjoy mixing things up in my weekly column; after all, I need to keep it fresh more than 50 times a year. As a teacher of direct marketing, I take my marketing cues from many sources. So when I see something in the world of noncatalog marketing that inspires me — something I feel can offer some good takeaway lessons — I feel obligated to share it with you.
That said, this week’s article looks at creating a totally unique customer experience that drives customer loyalty beyond what we normally think of in our industry.
Last week I got home from a Western Caribbean cruise. Normally I hate cruises. I know some people love them, but to me I feel like a rat trapped in a maze. That’s until I ran into a company called Cloud 9 Adventures and the Jam Cruise!
Imagine if you will a medium-sized cruise ship filled with about 2,000 passengers; 20 or so of the best funk, jam and jazz bands on the planet; and an extra half-dozen or so “roving” musicians. All playing day and night on a five-night cruise. Welcome to the Jam Cruise (www.jamcruise.com), an innovation in theme-based cruises that brings together travel and entertainment in one package. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that I’m a huge music buff.)
From a marketing perspective, however, in just five years Cloud 9 has developed a phenomenon that sells out months in advance. Its many advanced bookings are a testament to the positive customer experience from which it gains remarkable degrees of loyalty and customer advocacy.
So what takeaways did I learn from Cloud 9’s braintrust as marketers? Here are a few to consider:
1. Do something you love! It’s clear from the amount of work Cloud 9 employees put into ensuring that each customer’s experience is phenomenal: they love their jobs. Their passion for the music and their customers comes through in every detail — both onboard and on land. For example, they constantly monitor their message board (which is incredibly active throughout the year) and are in constant communication with their customers, whether it’s making announcements or responding to specific posts.
2. It’s not enough to find a niche. Find a niche with fiercely loyal consumers. Out of fear of missing out, I already booked my cruise for 2009, even before the 2008 cruise took place. How’s that for earning my loyalty and urgency!
3. Always exceed customers’ expectations. Customer experience is king for Cloud 9. While some companies might rest on their laurels, satisfied with putting on cool concerts at sea, Jam Cruise keeps its customers having fun way beyond the music. Guests are treated to autograph signings, workshops, Q&As with artists, a karaoke event where the musicians play the music while the cruisers sing, costume parties, theme nights, corporate sponsors giving away their products (free beer anyone?), and the mother of all things cool — a place called the jam room, where you find impromptu jam sessions going on until 6 a.m. Performers rotate in and out, while passengers dance and watch in shock and awe.
The net result of all of this? On the two Jam Cruises I’ve been on, many of the passengers are repeat customers — and from my observation, that’s more than 60 percent. To understand the concepts of customer loyalty and advocacy, look no further than Jam Cruise multibuyers. They pride themselves on sharing the experience, discussing how many Jam Cruises they’ve been on, bringing “newbies” onboard and spreading the word throughout the large scale Jam community.
Takeaway points for catalogers
Most amazing about Cloud 9 is how the marketing and branding are done seamlessly. On Jam Cruise the customers rarely feel like customers.
While this customer experience may be unique, elements of it can certainly be recreated in the catalog/multichannel business, most importantly, your business. So with Cloud 9 in mind, I ask you to ask yourself the following:
* When your customers interact with you, what is their experience?
* How do they feel about you as a company?
* Are they loyal enough to share the experience and recruit new customers for you?
If you answered, ‘I’m not so sure’ to any of these, it may be time to get out in the call center, start a chat room or bulletin board on your Web site, etc. Start looking at how you can take your customer experience to the next level.
I’ll be back next week with part 2 on increasing revenue in your call center. Got comments? Post them below!
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert or you can e-mail him at email@example.com.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.