Loyal Customers

Volume 140, No. 35, February 19, 2016

Loyal customers are the gold standard in business. They buy more, more often, and they tell all their friends about you. Even more important, they aren’t tempted to try the competition.

It’s not enough to satisfy customers, you have to delight them to make them loyal customers. Some of you may know Stew Leonard´s stores. Their customers are so delighted, and so loyal, one of them even asked to be buried with a Stew Leonard’s shopping bag. They wouldn’t switch, even after death.

Last month, I talked about how the Europeans and Canadians must be doing something different in how they manage their businesses. I left you some things to play around with to start the process towards learning what it will take to delight your customers and turn them into loyal customers.

Most of you, I am sure, have not yet taken the leap and talked to a customer as I suggested. Besides the usual burden of daily tasks, let’s face it, it’s hard to get yourself to do it.

It’s a bit like when you find a childhood friend on Facebook. Okay, there is a moment with a warm flush of memory.
“Wow, I remember them.” But, when you start have a conversation it’s awkward. Other than the obvious questions, it may be a little hard to know what to say.

I’m dedicating this column toa couple of ideas that may help. I adapted this from the Kano model, originally done by Prof. Kano of all things, based on his research it shows how the different characteristics of your product or service affect the degree of satisfaction of your customer.

Dr. Kano defined three essential kinds of characteristics: the basics, performance related (benefits), and delighters. The basics are the must be attributes. Anyone who is selling a product like yours must have these characteristics, or no one will buy them.

Performance related characteristics, often called benefits in selling terminology, over time will lead to customer satisfaction. When these characteristics deliver value above and beyond, customers start to move from merely satisfied to happy. Examples would be size, ease-of-use, value for price, and great service.

But even a whisper of delighters instantly satisfies. These are the thoughtful, unexpected, unique touches that enchant, delight, that make people want to include your product in their lives and no one else’s.

People won’t buy unless you have the basics; they will become more satisfied the better the performance related benefits from their point of view; but to make them loyal, what do you need? (If you did not answer delight, start reading again from the beginning.)

And here’s the nasty little question, how in heaven can you possibly know what the basics are from the customers’ point of view without talking to them? And worse, who the heck are they? It is not always clear. Just because people pay for a product, doesn’t mean they’re a customer. I pay for the right to use the Internet, but what I am buying is Facebook, email, YouTube, etc.

The real customer for your dairy product may not be the person who places the order. Of course, you want to make them happy, but you want to delight the person who’s really buying your product. Who is your customer, the buyer at a supermarket chain, or the consumer who takes your cheese home and serves it to their family?

First priority is to delight the customer, then to figure out how to make the life of the buyer more enjoyable. The best way to do this is to think as if you make more then just one type of product: a physical product, perhaps a cheese; and a service for the intermediary customers like the purchaser.

As a dairy marketers, you can then take each product and figure out what will delight.

What characteristics of service will delight the purchaser and what characteristics can you include in your product that will delight your customer?

You need to look outside-in not inside-out. You need to get out of the building and go to where people buy your product and find out what is basic to them, what satisfies them and from that, what could delight them and try. You will know when you have it. Your sales will explode.

A great place to start is asking every customer along the chain to the final consumer the following two questions:
1. What are you getting from my products that you don’t need?
2. What do you need that you aren´t getting?

Just like the Japanese did with cars and electronics to cut a wide swath into American industry, the Canadian and European dairy companies are asking their customers these questions. Why are you not asking these questions?

Dan Strongin is a former president of the American Cheese Society, chef and business coach for small to medium value added businesses, and the owner of the sites learn.managenaturally.com, and the Facebook group Enjoy Cheese. His online course: “Cheese: How to Buy, Store, Taste, Pair, Talk About and Serve”, is available at enjoycheese.net. Dan can be reached via email at dan@danstrongin.com.

Dan Strongin encourages your comments regarding this column. Comments can be made anonymously to columnists@cheesereporter.com.


Other Strongin Articles written for Cheese Reporter

dot On Customers, Guests & Winners!

dot Another Year, Another Cheddar...the Book
dot Some Things Matter
dot The Future is Social!
dotAll That Glitters: Social Media Marketing Frenzy
dot An Interview With Artisan Cheese Pioneer: Neville McNaughton
dot End of Another Year
dot On Mushrooms, Cheese, Management And Marketing
dot Don’t Waste Your Time With Big Data
dot LaClare Farms
dot Collaborationists in our Industry!
Risk Management vs. Risk Prevention
dot Jack Booted Cheese Thugs
dot Towards a Safer Food Supply
dot Lies, Damned Lies and Dairy Safety: How Poorly Applied Statistics Could Lead to the Worse Public Policy
dot Is Dairy Safe Is The Wrong Question, Part 1
dot Not All Data Is Information
dot Start From Where You Are
dot Learning About Your Customer
dot The Vision Thing
dot Customer Service? NOT!
dot Collaboration: The Road To A Better Future
dot Resolution
dot Water

dot In Memoriam: Ignazio Vella 1928-2011
dot Of Cheese, Seals, And Deming
dot In Their Own Words: Lettie Kilmoyer
dot In Their Own Words: Fritz Maytag
dot In Their Own Words: Paula Lambert
dot Show Me the Money: Cost Accounting
dot Cost Accounting Chokes, Part 2: Inventory

dot Cost Accounting Is Choking Your Business, Part 1
dot It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
dot Raw Reason
dot A Story For The Holiday Season, Part II
dot A Story For The Holiday Season
dot Truth In Labeling
dot This Too Shall Pass or "What were we thinking?"
dot Marketing Language That Resonates
dot When Will We Ever Learn?
dot Cheese Competitions In The Context Of Marketing

dot Economy
dot Even The Best Laid Plans Go Astray
dot Root Causes: Communication
dot Partners
dot Diamond Cutting:
It's What You Don't Know That Can Hurt You
dot Integrity and Ethics
dot Pricing:  The Perceived Value
Designing the Effective Sell Sheet
Common Sense
It All Begins in The Mouth
Of Cars...

The Gathering Storm
As Our Industry Evolves, So Should Our Terminology:

Other Cheese Reporter Guest Columnists
Visit John Umhoefer
Visit Neville McNaughton

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