Zombie Loyalists

Summary Written by Ryan Long
"Imagine if you could make your customers so in love with you, so amazed at their experience with you, each and every time, that they’d have no choice but to tell the world how great you are?"

- Zombie Loyalists, page 12

The Big Idea

Let’s give them something to talk about

"No one believes how amazing your business is if you’re the one who has to tell them."- Zombie Loyalists, page 13

One of the themes throughout the book is to get your customers so excited about your product, service, or business that they share their experience with others, that they infect others with their enthusiasm. It’s not enough for you to talk about how good you are. You have to be so good that you inspire other people to talk about you.

Early in the book, Shankman cites a statistic that 80% of businesses think they are good at customer service, but only 8% of customers think they receive good customer service. That doesn’t mean that 92% of customers are receiving bad service. They just aren’t receiving great service. Customers have low expectations so it’s easy for you to wow your customers with just a little effort. And once you wow them, you’ve taken a step toward building a zombie loyalist.

Insight #1

How can we thrill them?

"Customer service is no longer about telling people how great you are. It’s about producing amazing moments in time and letting those moments become the focal point of how amazing you are, told not by you but by the customer you thrilled."- Zombie Loyalists, page 113

Shankman does a great job of highlighting companies who create amazing moments for their customers. While I don’t work directly with customers anymore, our sales representatives, managers, and future recruits are my “customers”. I’m reminded of a contest that we ran last fall. We simply gave away Amazon gift cards in a drawing to managers that participated in a social media scavenger hunt at an annual conference. Melissa, our Corpus Christi, TX manager, posted on Facebook thanking us for her gift card and telling us what she planned to purchase with it. That’s what Shankman is talking about! Simplicity and appreciation.

We have contests periodically but Zombie Loyalists gave me ideas on ways to show appreciation for our people in a “random acts of kindness” sort of way. Who doesn’t love swag? What if we send out a piece of branded swag or a Starbucks gift card for mentioning us on social media? There’s no contest. We don’t announce it. We just send it. It’s a nice gesture and some of them will be excited enough to share, to be loyal, and to brag about how great we are. Like Amy Nowacoski. Amy is the founder of a running group. She blogs about running and has mentioned that she likes LaraBar. LaraBar noticed and sent Amy a package of products. Of course Amy posted a photo online and blogged about it. Periodically they still send her LaraBars. They have made her feel like not only a valued customer but a VIP and Amy said it has created loyalty for her over any other similar product.

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Insight #2

Own your mistakes

"You’re going to screw up. It happens to everyone. As we said before, though, the key is what you do next."- Zombie Loyalists, page 171

We may be trying to create zombies, but all companies are made of humans and humans make mistakes. There are the little ones: files are lost, pay is calculated incorrectly, payments are applied incorrectly, or food is not made to order. And there are the big ones: leadership loses focus so culture changes, a company tried to do too much and forgets its core business, a company suddenly raises prices, or technology just fails.

Once you realize that the mistake is yours, and hopefully you do, then it’s so, so important to first admit that, apologize, and then do your absolute best to correct it as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s not about you, it’s about them. So show them that you can make a mistake and still follow through on your ability to make their experience amazing. Take a mistake and make it a way to share a positive experience instead of a negative one.

That’s what Domino’s Pizza did on a large scale beginning in 2010. They realized that their pizza tasted terrible, service was lacking, and people were sharing mostly negative experiences. So they admitted they had a problem. Domino’s expanded their menu, created a new pizza recipe, and advertised the changes they were making and why. In the process they brought back hundreds of lost customers, approval ratings went up, and stock grew by over 400%.

Are we having fun yet?

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Peter Shankman

The New York Times has called him “a public relations all-star who knows everything about new media and then some,”, while Investor’s Business Daily has labeled him “crazy, but effective.” Peter Shankman is a spectacular example of what happens when you merge the power of pure creativity with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a dose of adventure, and make it work to your advantage. An author, entrepreneur, speaker, and worldwide connector, Peter is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about Customer Service, Social Media, PR, marketing and advertising. Peter is best known for founding Help A Reporter Out, (HARO) which in under a year became the de-facto standard for thousands of journalists looking for sources on deadline, offering them more than 200,000 sources around the world looking to be quoted in the media. HARO is currently the largest free source repository in the world, sending out over 1,500 queries from worldwide media each week. HARO’s tagline, “Everyone is an Expert at Something”, proves over and over again to be true, as thousands of new members join at helpareporter.com each week. In June of 2010, less than two years after Peter started HARO in his apartment, it was acquired by Vocus, Inc. Peter is currently a Principal at Shankman|Honig, a consultancy designed to help corporations, businesses, and retail operations create stellar customer service that resonates in our new “conversation economy,” driving revenue, repeat business, and new customers. Peter is also the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique Social Media, Marketing and PR Strategy firm located in New York City, with clients worldwide. His blog, which he launched in 1995 at http://shankman.com, both comments on and generates news and conversation. Peter’s Customer Service and Social Media clients have included American Express, Sprint, The US Department of Defense, Royal Bank of Canada, Snapple Beverage Group, Saudi Aramco, Foley Hoag, LLP, NASA, Haworth, Walt Disney World, Abercrombie and Kent, The Ad Council, Discovery Networks, New Frontier Media, Napster, Juno, Dream Catcher Destinations Club, Harrah’s Hotels, and many, many others. Peter is the author of three books: Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management is Over, and Collaboration is in, (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013,) Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work–And Why Your Company Needs Them (Wiley and Sons, 2006,) and Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World (Que Biz-Tech 2010,) and is a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter at conferences and tradeshows worldwide, including South By Southwest, Affiliate Summit, BlogWorld, TBEX, The Public Relations Society of America, CTIA, CTAM, CES, PMA, OMMA, Mobile Marketing Asia, and the Direct Marketing Association. Peter sits on the advisory boards of several companies, all visible on the Advising/Investing page, and is honored to sit on the NASA Civilian Advisory Council, appointed to his position by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. He’s also an angel investor, specializing mostly in very early stage tech and social media companies. A marketing pundit for several national and international news channels, including Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, Peter is frequently quoted in major media and trade publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, The Associated Press, Reuters and USA Today. A proud Boston University graduate, Peter started his career at America Online as a Senior News Editor, helping found the AOL Newsroom and spearheading coverage of the Democratic and Republican 1996 conventions, which marked the first time an online news service covered any major political event. Born and raised in New York City, Peter still resides there with his beautiful wife and daughter, and NASA the Wonder Cat, all of whom consistently deny his repeated requests to relinquish the couch. In the few hours of spare time Peter has per month he’s completed 13 marathons, seven Olympic distance triathlons, two half-Ironman triathlons, and one full Ironman Triathlon. He’s also a “B” licensed skydiver with over 400 jumps. He’s currently training for the 2014 Louisville Ironman. In 2011, Peter authored a tweet that was voted as one of the Top Ten Tweets of the year by Twitter, out of more than 160,000,000,000 tweets sent.

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