Category: Service

32 Customer Entanglement Strategies

There was no pressing need to write this. But write it I did. I admit to liking the term “Customer Entanglement.” (Not to mention “WOW-ification.”)

Here goes:

*Eye-popping customer SERVICE/PURCHASE PROCESS


*Customer KINDNESS (K = R = P/Kindness = Repeat business = Profit.)

*Fierce customer LISTENING!! (“Core Value” #1? NO KIDDING!!) (CEO: “If you don’t listen you don’t sell anything.”)

*Pursuing customer LOYALTY/maximizing Net Promoter Score (Live or die via customers referring you to others—10X or 100 or 1000X more powerful in LSWSM/Light Speed World of Social Media.)

*Focus on customer LIFETIME VALUE (>>100% profit from repeat business; hence after-sale activity [far] more important than pre-sale.)

*Scintillating customer EXPERIENCE (For EVERY business of EVERY size!) (“Experience” is NOT marketing-speak; ’tis the really real thing. Life = Theater!!)

*Experience WOW-ification via constant “all hands-all-the-time” experimentation (WTTMSW/Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.) (“WOWIFICATION” IS A REAL WORD. BELIEVE IT.)

*Dramatically improved customer understanding and “WOW-ification” via application of BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE (“Kahneman-ization”—after Kahneman’s masterpiece book on perception and decision-making, Thinking, Fast and Slow.)

*Consistent/”OCD” adherence to the WOW STANDARD of customer interaction

*Co-design and develop EVERYTHING with the customer. (“Customer INTIMACY” is NOT a “buzzphrase.”)

*The Age of the “Social Employee”—everyone is in the “customer contact business.” (Everyone = EVERYONE.)

*Optimal customer interactions via provider’s XFX/CROSS-FUNCTIONAL EXCELLENCE (90% of product development and after-sales service screw-ups are more or less driven by lousy internal cross-functional coordination—need X-functional synergy; need X-functional leadership daily.)

*SCREW-UPS = OPPORTUNITY #1. Responding to problems is NOT an “opportunity”—it is, truly, Opportunity #1.

*Intimate customer connection via the “SUCK-DOWN-FOR-SUCCESS” strategy—”STRATEGY,” not “tactic”; this is B-I-G. (Get to know the folks in the bowels of the customer organization—they are the de facto [or de jure!] decision-makers/reputation-makers.)

*All leaders need direct customer contact all the time. (Hey, CEO, called a customer … TODAY?)

*Enabling customer SUCCESS as Gold Standard (Customer “satisfaction” is not [nearly] enough—e.g., UPS says the letters stand for “United Problem Solvers” [that telling name is service-marked]; UPS is in the “logistics management” “space,” not “package delivery.”)

*Increasing the SOLUTION SPACE WE INHABIT (Do more and more—AND MORE—for the customer; customer-as-partner; again, Social Media magnifies this opportunity 10X/100X.)

*Doing well THINGS THAT CUSTOMERS DON’T WANT TO DO FOR THEMSELVES (Larry Janesky’s Basement Systems Inc. experiences rocketing growth—via “basement transformation.”)

*Product or service as LOVEMARK (Marketing super-guru Kevin Roberts gold standard; NOT a buzzphrase.) (More Kevin Roberts: “Avoid moderation”—YES, circa 2015.)

*Establishing non-obvious customer connections via BIG DATA (“Big data” is a Big Deal for businesses of every size.)

*Customer entanglement via GAMIFICATION (Make interactions into games—power tool, though non-trivial investment.)

*Customer engagement via intensive use of SOCIAL MEDIA (One Big Biz financial service CEO says he’d rather have ONE twitter conversation with one customer than buy a Super Bowl ad!!!!!!!!) (Please re-read the prior sentence.)

*Lifetime customer coddling via provider’s PEERLESS PEOPLE PRACTICES (To put the customer first, put the people who serve the customer “more first”!!!!!!!!!!) (“YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL NEVER BE ANY HAPPIER THAN YOUR EMPLOYEES.” —John DiJulius, personal services chain superstar)

*Catering on every dimension from design to follow-up on those who buy the product/WOMEN (Which also necessarily means a high share of women in high leadership positions.) (Women now occupy >one-half of professional purchasing officer jobs—so women buy the bulk of commercial goods as well as consumer goods.) (HOW MANY DAMN FRIGGING TIMES AM I GOING TO HAVE TO SAY THIS?)

*Catering to the AGING/BOOMER POPULATION (At 50, half of one’s adult life remains; ONE boomer turns SIXTY-FIVE every EIGHT seconds for the next TWENTY years.) (OLDIES = PEOPLE WITH [ALL] THE MONEY!!!) (HOW MANY DAMN FRIGGING TIMES AM I GOING TO HAVE TO SAY THIS?)

*Customer magnetization via PRODUCT EXCELLENCE (Good stuff is always primo.) Product design and after-sales service trump excellent marketing 10 out of 10 times. Mountains cannot be made of molehills.)

*Attracting customers by DESIGN/MATCHLESS FUNCTIONALITY (Apple has higher market cap than Exxon Mobil. Q.E.D.) (Applies to EVERY enterprise including the 1-person accountancy.)

*Attracting customers by DESIGN/STUNNING AESTHETICS (Applies to EVERY enterprise including the 1-person accountancy.)

*Attracting customers by DESIGN/WOW! (Applies to EVERY enterprise including the 1-person accountancy.)

*It’s ALWAYS the “little” stuff—”Little BIG Things” (RADICAL “bias for execution.”)

*”THE CUSTOMER PAYS THE BILLS!” (It may be a “yawner”—but it ALWAYS bears repeating.)

[Ed.: PDF and PPT are available for downloading.]

MOAP #21

The latest addition to Tom’s “Mother of All Presentations” (MOAP) is available now at You can download it as a PowerPoint or a PDF. We’ve been releasing a new section every other week throughout 2012.

Part 21 continues the “15H Theory of Everything” with “Hewlett,” and it puts the limelight on the Professional Service Firm, Tom’s model for a transformational business. That is, one that offers to provide not just customer satisfaction, but, instead, customer success.

MOAP #16

Part 16 of Tom’s “Mother of All Presentations” (MOAP) is featured now at You can download the PowerPoint version or a PDF. We’re releasing a section every other week throughout 2012.

Presenting the 9th “H” in the “15H Theory of Everything,” this part of MOAP has “Things Gone Right” as its theme. Vernon Hill, the titular “H,” is the founder of Commerce Bancorp, a small bank that made a big impact by providing, without exception, excellent customer experience.

TLBT Video #77
Service: TGW and TGR

Now available on YouTube: the latest video in The Little BIG Things series. Tom presents an alternative to minimizing Things Gone Wrong. He suggests you maximize Things Gone Right. Which would you prefer to be remembered for?

You can find the video in the right-hand column of this page or watch it at YouTube (time: 1 minute 57 seconds). Or, get a PDF transcript of the video’s content: Service: TGW and TGR.

MOAP #11

Part 11 is the next installment of Tom’s “Mother of All Presentations,” or MOAP, available now at You can download the PowerPoint version or a PDF. We’ll be releasing a section every other week throughout 2012.

The 15H Theory of Everything continues with this lesson derived in part from Tom’s study of Henry Clay. The key point is that Kindness = Repeat Business = Profit. That is, courtesy, apologizing for mistakes, and appreciation of your internal and external customers are all important parts of a successful business strategy.

TLBT Video #71
Service: Invest in Your People

The Little BIG Things video series at YouTube continues today with a reminder from Tom about what’s really important to your business. It’s the people. We think this is a great message for the holiday season. What have you done for your people at this time of year?

You can find the video in the right-hand column of our front page, or watch it here (time: 2 minutes 45 seconds). Also, you can get a PDF transcript of the video’s content: Service: Invest in Your People.

Little BIG Video #65
Customer Loyalty

The latest video is now at YouTube, #65 in The Little BIG Things Video Series. Forget the complex data analysis (such as least squares fits), says Tom, and concentrate on the customer. You’ll be amazed at the possible payoff.

You can find the video in the right column of the front page of or you can watch the video on YouTube. [Time: 2 minutes 18 seconds] A transcript of the video’s content is also available as a PDF: Service: Customer Loyalty.

Little BIG Video #53
Develop Internal Customers

Here’s video number 53 from The Little BIG Things Video Series. Tom argues that your internal customers are more important than your external customers. As a waitress, focusing on your relationship with the chef can directly impact your performance with a diner.

You can find the video in the right column of the front page of or you can watch the video on YouTube. [Time: 2 minutes, 26 seconds] You can also download a PDF transcript of the video’s content: Service: Develop Internal Customers.

Complaining with Style!

A friend recently went to Sante Fe and had a less than scintillating experience at the Inn and Spa at Loretto. I thought the online review he posted at was masterful. (I may copy some of his refined language the next time I have a crappy experience.)

Herewith, his review:

If you really enjoy being treated with contempt (I understand some people do), then the Inn and Spa at Loretto is the place for you. My wife and I had planned two days at this four-star inn as the culmination of a visit to the Southwest, but as soon as we saw our room, we decided to leave as early as possible the next day. No one at the desk asked us why we were checking out early. I’m sure they knew the reason; it’s doubtful anyone has ever stayed more than one night in that room.

The room is on the first floor just down the hall from the public restrooms. It has no windows, just French doors opening directly onto the parking lot—I mean DIRECTLY: no lawn, flower border, or screening of any sort. You can step out of the door and bounce off the grill of a car—maybe your own car, which you can park there for an extra $18 a day. If you are particularly gregarious, you might enjoy relaxing in your room and exchanging cheery greetings with hotel staff members bustling by with their cleaning equipment or valets parking cars 12 feet from your bed. But if you have a more retiring nature, you’ll feel compelled to draw the curtains, making the dark and gloomy room with its blood-red walls resemble a vampire’s crypt.

A four-star hotel should give a four-star experience to every guest, not just those with the best rooms. We had a third-rate motel experience at three times the cost. When we left, we moved into a larger, more pleasant room at a Marriott Courtyard at a savings of $100. Admittedly, we could still see the parking lot (where we parked for free), but it was four floors below our balcony, and it was separated from the hotel by a lawn and trees. So we recommend the Marriott, where you will get a nice room for the price, and you won’t feel either cheated or insulted.

What Can Happen If You Open a Half-hour Early!

The bill came to about $2,700.

Getting that hearty bundle-of-bucks is an indicator of what happens when you open a little earlier and close a little later than the norm.

My wife went shopping for a mattress at the Nelson store of a “major New Zealand retailer.” The retailer, incidentally, had run a huge print ad that day in an effort to immediately increase traffic—though my wife hadn’t seen it. It was rather late in the day. She wandered around, wasn’t overly impressed by the offerings—though they were decent enough. There were four or five salespeople on the floor, however, who had a fair shot at earning her custom. Not one approached her. A few minutes later she walked out. Not in a huff. Just walked out.

The next morning, while awaiting the 9AM opening of another shop (not bedding), we walked past Brownies, a family-run mattress and bedding store, around since 1939. Brownies, to our pleasant surprise, stood out by opening at 830AM, about a half-hour, at least, before the herd. One of the family members, on active duty at the opening bell, subsequently told us they opened early and closed late in part to attract folks going to or coming back from work. “That’s when a lot of people shop,” was their straightforward answer (in the “duh” category—though it apparently didn’t occur to others).

An exceptionally knowledgeable salesperson immediately engaged Susan. She wandered around, and eventually made a purchase. That is, she purchased the mattress she’d hoped to find. And, uhm, a set of twin bed mattresses and bed frame, that were not on her list. And about four pillows—as I said, about $2,700 worth in total.

All because the store was open early, had a decent-but-not-spectacular set of products, and very attentive-but-not-hovering staff.

The “major New Zealand retailer,” by the way, is also under newfound competitive assault. Their local folks failed miserably—not on product selection, but on attentiveness. My wife is not as picky about customer service as I am, by a long shot. But aggressive rudeness is another kettle of fish.

May Brownies prosper from now until kingdom come!

(And may the “major New Zealand retailer” get its act together—that is, improve by an order of magnitude on the basics which can indeed set local stores apart from the “big box” monsters.)

(This vignette is also included in our recitation on independent retailers.)