One of the most iconic stories of customer experience marketing comes in the form of a tale about a stuffed animal named Joshie the Giraffe.
A family was on vacation, staying at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida. At the end of their stay, they hastily left the resort and left behind their young son’s treasured stuffed giraffe.
The father called the resort to let them know he had explained to his son that Joshie was not lost; he was just taking an extended vacation. He then asked them to send Joshie the Giraffe back in the mail and if they could do something to corroborate his dad story.
Instead of just packing Joshie up and sending him home, the Ritz-Carlton staff posed the stuffed animal in all kinds of pictures enjoying the amenities of the resort: playing golf, enjoying pool time, and getting a massage. They also included several pieces of branded swag in the package (in addition to a photo album) that brought Joshie home.
The story went viral, and is used to this day as an illustration of the power of an exceptional customer experience. Googling “Joshie the Giraffe” results in scads of articles and think pieces written by customer service gurus.
It’s a great story, however not one that’s easy to replicate by companies looking to up their CX game. Still, it’s the essence of the story that counts.
Could anything be more powerful than the Ritz-Carlton Joshie experience? The answer to that question is yes. There is actually a more powerful model that can result in free advertising…and it’s completely replicable.
Believe it or not, there is a form of advertising that is more efficacious than a viral Huffington Post story: the accounts of people that prospects trust.
Because we don’t have enough acronyms in the CX space, here’s another one: WOMM. That’s Word of Mouth Marketing. It’s a bit of a misnomer, as the most influential segment of WOMM right now is social media, which is mostly read and not technically ‘listened to’.
WOMM even has its own association, appropriately named WOMMA. Here’s an important piece of data they found– 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
Even more interesting is this statistic provided by Nielsen: 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.
In other words, instead of spending loads of capital and resources on things like native advertising and Facebook ads, there is a much higher ROI on creating a shareable, indelible customer experience.
What is the measurable damage done if a company disregards CX ambassadorship?
A survey compiled by the authors of the book The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty found that a customer with a bad experience is more likely to create more negative word of mouth (65%) compared to positive word of mouth a customer with a good experience will create (25%).
The CX Action Plan
The statistics above show us that shareable customer experience marketing stories can make a massive difference when it comes to a company’s customer engagement.
What are some actionable steps that can allow companies to ramp up their CX?
One of the ways that shared CX can be more impactful is if it is coming from a customer who is transparently loyal.
Let’s imagine that a customer posts on social media or discusses in private conversations multiple experiences with a company. That suggests to that customer’s friends and colleagues that he or she is so happy with the company that he or she continues to come back for more.
A shared singular customer interaction can have a nice bit of gravitas, but repeated ambassador stories point to the notion that the interaction was not a one off; it’s just the way that company does business.
Taking care of each customer by providing a seamless CX can not only raise the Customer Lifetime Value of that one individual, it can also level up the importance of their recommendations to others.
Connecting Vs. Collecting
A lot of companies are focused on collecting prospects. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter followers, email signups, or face-to-face contacts, these companies are looking to grow their network numbers without focusing on engagement.
Instead of collecting, companies who want to improve their CX should look at lasering in on producing interactive content that engages their existing customers. A customer that feels like their voice is being heard is much more likely to take ownership of the CX and share it with others.
Use the Three E’s.
The “Three E’s” represent a set of precepts that can supercharge a company’s CX.
- Engage – by using tools like polls and open-ended questions at the end of customer interactions, engagement can make customers feel special and appreciated.
- Equip – companies need to make it easy for customers to share their CX stories with their inner circle. Share buttons and referral rewards programs can take this “E” to the next level quickly.
- Empower – the easiest and most effective way to do this is to let customers know how much their feedback and ambassadorship truly mean. This precept can be driven forward strongly by using one simple and powerful question: “How could we improve your experience?”
While companies often hire CMOs and marketing analysts to dissect the best practices to advertise and market, they may be missing the forest for the trees.
Instead of mulling over the newest Facebook algorithm or digital marketing trends, it would serve them well to take a good look at enhancing an asset that they already have. Existing customers equipped with CX say they are more than happy to share with new high-value prospects.
Think about your company’s CX. What methods or models can you onboard to make the interaction virally shareable within your customers’ circle of influence?