How to Take Customers on a Journey in 2017

I’ve discussed the User Journey a few times over the last couple of weeks. Mainly, I’ve spoken to the importance of building the user journey and how that will affect your marketing in 2017. Here’s the question I’m getting asked the most after people read those blogs: how can I tie a user journey into the marketing I already have?

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Safelite Auto Glass

Hall of Fame Class of 2013–Safelite Auto Glass

I can still recall that stomach sinking feeling that came over me when I realized my car had been broken into. There was nothing extraordinary about what happened. I hadn’t left anything massively valuable in plain sight. Cars get broken into regularly. Yet, when it happens to us, our entire world is turned upside down. We think of our vehicles as these safe, indestructible shells when in reality, they’re vulnerable just like we are. Safelite Auto Glass not only understands this, but they seemed determined to make me feel like a VIP, with vacuum and wipe service, on a day nothing else seemed to be going right.


Safelite repairs, Safelite replaces, Safelite does a little extra–and it doesn’t cost them a single penny to do it. After replacing your damaged window, Safelite Auto Glass simply cleans your windows, vacuums up any glass fragments, and sends you on your way with one less thing to worry about.


Purple Goldfish, also known as anytime a business goes above and beyond to provide that “little extra” to their customers, doesn’t have to be extravagant. It simply has to be memorable. Once a window on your car is replaced, our next biggest concern is broken glass. Safelite takes that worry away and then goes one step further in wiping down the brand new glass.


Getting auto glass replaced doesn’t have to be a big headache–and Safelite proves that with their outstanding customer service. By taking care of all the worries that surround a window replacement on a vehicle, Safelite is one giant leap ahead of their competition.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here are even more reasons why Safelite is above and beyond their competition.

Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Zappos

Hall of Fame Class of 2010–Zappos

Sometimes winning customers can take more than having what they want–it can mean sending them somewhere else to help a customer. At least, that is one reason Zappos has found as much success as they have. They also offer free shipping both ways, free upgrades, and a 365 day return policy. These little extras have paid off big with customers of Zappos over the years– and no one recognizes that more than Zappos themselves.


Zappos was born in 1999. The original idea was to create a website that offered the absolute best selection in shoes in terms of brands, styles, colors, sizes, and widths. Since 1999, the company’s aspirations have evolved, but their goal to be the company providing the absolute best in online customer service has never wavered. Zappos delivers happiness.


The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, has never confused customer experience with an expense. He says, “Our business is based on repeat customers and word of mouth. There’s a lot of value in building up our brand name and what it stands for. We view the money that we spend on customer service as marketing money that improves our brand.”


Many times, a business will get so caught up in what they’re spending to bring customers in, they can forget that it isn’t always about the almighty dollar. When you view “spend” as “customer experience” instead, it can make all the difference in your bottom line.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here is Rachael Ray putting the customer service of Zappos to the test during the busy holiday season.

Providing Better Customer Service in Finance

Almost everyone will find themselves falling on hard times financially at least once in their lives. As a customer, we know that the best thing to do if we’re falling behind on bills is to be honest with the financial institution we’re working with–but that isn’t always easy. However, in today’s tech driven world, what IS becoming easier is financial organizations finding way to provide better service–while still watching their bottom line.

How To Attract The Right Kind of Customer

Giving customers what they want. It seems like a simple enough process. After all, if they’re buying your product or service–they’re obviously in need of your product or service, right?

Not exactly. Now I’m not saying that the above isn’t true. After all, if they didn’t want your product or service, they wouldn’t be buying it. However, have you ever given thought to why they chose your product or service over the millions of others that are out there? There are a lot of reasons, but I’d guess that about 9 times out of 10, they chose you because you somehow spoke to them as a customer.

Lesson from Driven to Delight – Forget the Competition, Remember Your Customers

This is a guest post from Dr. Joseph Michelli, the New York Times best-selling author. It features a story about Mercedes-Benz from his latest book, Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way

Driven to DelightI’ve long been a believer that we should spend more time building strategy to meet and exceed customer expectations, and less time devising tactics to counter the efforts of our competitors. Don’t get me wrong. Any good SWOT analysis considers the competitive set but ULTIMATELY we are in business to serve customers, not outwit the competition. It is by strengthening our relationship with our customers that we enjoy repeat business, sustained profits and referrals.

Thought leader Seth Godin also has a laser focus on customers. In fact, Seth has been known to ask a provocatively simple question: “Who are your customers?” Dismissing the usual sterile and demographic-focused answers, he challenges us all to think about customers in a more relatable way. “What do they believe? Who do they trust? Who are their friends? What do they talk about?” Imagine…knowing your customers so intimately and then catering your business to them, irrespective of what “the other guys” are doing.

By getting to know your customers in an unparalleled way, you are likely to differentiate your business and your strategy from brands that are constantly selling. Let me give you some examples of transformative processes deployed by a company for whom I have had the good fortune of consulting and about whom I have recently written a book titled Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way.

Mercedes-Benz is at the pinnacle of excellence when it comes to engineering innovation, safety and marketing, but the company’s “product-centricity” had left it somewhat lacking when it came to knowledge of what their customers wanted in a dealership experience. As such, Mercedes-Benz USA was performing at a very mediocre level on customer surveys such as those conducted by JD Power. During the process of building a “customer-obsessed” culture, leaders at Mercedes-Benz USA addressed a host of human, process, and technology-based initiatives. When it comes to “knowing their customer,” two particular initiatives are worthy of emulation, DaSH and LEAD:

DaSH – How do your customers and your employees differ? Leaders at Mercedes-Benz USA asked their employees that question and found a sizable number of the people who represented the brand hadn’t spent considerable time behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. In the absence of shared experiences, prejudices and assumptions creep-in and some staff begin to think that “anyone who buys an S-Class is all about prestige, status, or power.” DaSH changed that! DaSH stands for Drive a Star Home (the “star” is a reference to the Mercedes-Benz logo) which availed a Mercedes-Benz vehicle for brand representatives to use over multiple days. Not only did employees enjoy the safety, performance and special driving experience provided by Mercedes-Benz vehicles, they also came to understand why people (like themselves) choose to make other financial compromises in order to own a Mercedes-Benz.

LEAD – LEAD stands for Listen, Empathize, Add Value and Delight. LEAD is the anchor for skills development necessary to identify and connect with peers and customers. Everyone representing the Mercedes-Benz USA brand is trained and re-trained to listen for understanding, assess the emotional experience of customers and connect with their experience, and add value beyond the transactional level. When each of those actions are provided to a customer and when you authentically welcome customers back for your next opportunity to serve them, customers feel “known” and “delighted.”

Mercedes-Benz USA gets it!

Without shared experiences for staff and customers, and a team trained to listen, emotionally connect, and serve – what is company or brand? I guess the entire model for business would reduce itself to a commoditized game of out-pricing and out-maneuvering the competition – that doesn’t seem like a game worth playing to me! How about you?


Joseph A Michelli, PhD, CSP, is an internationally sought-after speaker, consultant, and New York Times No 1 best-selling author. You can find more information about him at

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Steve Cannon is the President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. He is the former VP of Marketing for the brand. Two things I love about Steve,

1. He has said, “Customer experience is the new battleground

2. He has staked his legacy as CEO on customer experience.

Here’s a video of Steve at Forrester talking about investing in the DaSH program:

Competing on Customer Experience – Episode 106 of the Daily Discipline Podcast with Rory Vaden

Rory-Vaden-Show-Weekly-Podcast.jpg-252x300The Rory Vaden show is a weekly podcast that Rory hosts every Wednesday, which is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts and has listeners from all around the world. The show shares “insights and inspiration for movers and shakers in the world of business”™. Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews one very special expert guest and thought leader every week.

I had the privilege of being a guest on Rory Vaden’s Daily Discipline Podcast – Episode 106.

Click here to listen.

Here are some of the things we discussed on the show:

  • Customer Experience Defined: Everything that you do for your customers + everything your business processes do to your customer = how it makes your customer feel
  • The best kind of customer that you can have is a referred customer
  • According to research by Gartner, “By 2016, 89% of companies compete mainly on the customer experience they provide.”
  • Not all customers are created equal
  • You can never exactly meet expectations. You either fall short or you exceed expectations.
  • How can you go above and beyond the transaction?
  • G.L.U.E. concept – Giving Little Unexpected Extras
  • There’s only two things that matter to people when they look at a brand: warmth and competence
  • 3D Customer Development Philosophy- Discovery, Design, Deploy
  • You can’t be good at everything. What are the top things you need to be good at?
  • Satisfying your customers in the next generation is not enough. You need to inspire them for them to refer you.
  • Businesses aren’t taking the time to get to know their customers after the sale.
  • Go as fast as you can and as slow as you have to
  • To be your highest value to others, you must be your highest self. #procrastinateonpurpose

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Rory was a fellow presenter at TEDx Douglasville. His talk was awesome. It’s about how to procrastinate on purpose and multiply your time:

We Mean Business Interview – Discussing the Power of G.L.U.E. to Win Customers

During a recent trip to DC I had the opportunity to be a guest on the TV show, “We Mean Business.” The show just aired on Channel 16 on MMC-TV.

Here is the conversation with Steve Dorfman from Driven to Excel:

Here are some of things we talked about:

  1. G.L.U.E. What does it stand for and how was it inspired?
  2. “GLUE” experience of a Target customer…
  3. You have another great story about Panera Bread …
  4. For those business owners who might be wondering, does this translate into dollars or is it just good will? Are the results quantifiable?
  5. Tell us about the role that employee engagement plays in all of this.
  6. What about the frontline employee who’d rather not give a little extra to that “rude” customer?
  7. You say that what we see as common sense is not always common practice. Why is that?
  8. You say that it’s all about reaching the hearts of our customers. Where does one begin, when it comes to developing this type of culture?
  9. Do you have a favorite interview question that helps to find a culture fit?
  10. Your background is in marketing – when and why did you pivot and niche?
  11. You say that nobody meets customer expectations?
  12. Some leaders are still of the belief that their employees should feel lucky just to have a job. What would you like to say to those leaders?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is Daniel Pink on We Mean Business talking about his most recent book, To Sell is Human. I just mentioned Dan in my latest blog post in Forbes about purpose.

Four Ways to Leverage the Concept of G.L.U.E. to Improve the Customer Experience

This was a guest post I wrote on 360 Connext:

improve the customer experience

Gartner released research that showed by 2016 that 89% of companies will compete mainly on the customer experience they provide. To demonstrate how the experience has grown in importance, that number was 34% back in 2011.

The challenge for today’s business is how to differentiate the experience they provide and stand out in a sea of sameness. The ultimate goal is to win customers and maximize their lifetime value. Winning is no longer defined by merely acquisition. Winning is defined by taking care of the customers you have, so they’ll come back and bring you the customers you want.

Referrals are like gold. A referred customer can spend up to two-times that of a regular customer over their lifetime. And because they’ve been referred, they are more apt to refer you to their friends, up to twice the amount of friends. Winning is about cultivating loyal customers that become advocates for your business.

Moving the Needle

According to Bain’s Net Promoter, these customers are labeled as promoters. A few years ago I had the chance to speak with Fred Reicheld about how companies can gain more promoters, thereby improving their Net Promoter Score (NPS). Fred advised that there are two ways to increase NPS:

  1. Eliminate bad profits – Get rid of the fees and charges that annoy customers.
  2. Frugal wow – Do the small things that can improve the customer experience.

Ready to improve the customer experience with G.L.U.E?

The idea of doing the small things is embodied in a concept called G.L.U.E. Glue is an acronym for Giving Little Unexpected Extras. Similar to microinteractions, these little things speak volumes to the customer about how much the company cares about its customers.

Here are four examples from my recent TEDx talk entitled, “Rethinking Business with the Power of G.L.U.E.”

G is for Giving

The idea of giving is to go beyond the transaction to honor the relationship. It’s the little plus that show that you value the customer and their business.

EXAMPLE: Doubletree Hotels and their chocolate chip cookie. Check in at any Doubletree around the world and you’ll receive a warm chocolate chip cookie at reception. It’s a signature extra by the hotel. Since the mid 1980’s, Doubletree has given away over 300 million chocolate chip cookies.

L is for Little

It doesn’t have to be something big. Many times it’s the gesture that makes the difference.

EXAMPLE: Izzy’s Ice Cream and the Izzy. When you buy a scoop of ice cream at Izzy’s in St. Paul, MN, you get to pick another flavor for free. This little miniscoop on top is called the Izzy.

Improve the Customer Experience

U is for Unexpected

If you can surprise a customer by doing something unexpected, you will trigger an emotional response. That emotional response causes our brains to flood our system with dopamine. Dopamine is literally the post-it note for our memory. And when something becomes memorable, it almost always becomes talkable.

EXAMPLESafelite. If you have a crack in your windshield, Safelite will come to your home or office to repair the crack. The technician places this interesting looking device onto your windshield. The device drills into the crack and places an epoxy resin inside. It takes 10 minutes for the epoxy to harden.

During this time the technician goes back to their vehicle and retrieves glass cleaner and a vacuum. They then proceed to clean the interior of your car and all of your glass. When you come out to inspect the work, not only does your cracked windshield look brand new, but your car looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor.

E is for Extra

Do the little extra. Go beyond just equal to give a little more. This is extremely important when you make a mistake in business. Everyone makes mistakes, its how you deal with it that makes the difference.

EXAMPLE Nurse Next Door. Nurse Next Door is a home health care provider. They send nurses and aides into people’s homes. When they make a mistake, Nurse Next Door sends a handwritten note of apology accompanied with a freshly baked apple pie. It is literally a humble pie.

Each year they spend up to $2,000 with a local vendor. They know that investment helps save the company $100,000 a year in lost sales. In addition, it eliminates a ton of bad word of mouth that might affect future business.

How are you improving the customer experience by doing a little more to exceed expectations? Are you ready to Give Little Unexpected Extras?

Doing More – How Unexpected Extras Hold the Key to Business Transformation

This was a guest post I wrote on Convince and Convert:

How Unexpected Extras Hold the Key to Business Transformation

Dr. Harry Coover discovered the material Cyanoacrylate in 1942. He was searching for a substance to use on a clear gun sight for a rifle. Cyanoacrylate was unsuited and ill-equipped for the purpose. It literally stuck to everything it came into contact with. And it bonded with incredible strength. Over seventeen years later, Dr. Coover would reintroduce this material to the public with the Eastman Chemical Company.

The product was called Eastman 910, what we now refer to today as Super Glue.

Super Glue has been used over the years in a multitude of ways. Advertisements contained demonstrations of its amazing strength. Super Glue was even used during the Vietnam War, saving the lives of soldiers with gaping wounds in the field of battle. Just two years ago, a manufacturer named Loctite tested its limits. With just nine tiny drops of Super Glue, they were able to lift a pickup truck with a Mini in its bed, a total of 10,000 pounds.

A small amount of glue has the ability to make a big difference. I believe there is another type of glue that we can utilize to transform business. Like Cyanoacyrlate, it’s also a little thing that has the power to wield a great effect.

This G.L.U.E. is an acronym that stands for, “Giving Little Unexpected Extras.” It’s the little bit extra done by a business in order to exceed the expectations of its customers. It’s that signature something that goes beyond the transaction. It’s the little tangible thing that demonstrates that you care for the customer.

As Jay Baer shared in the book Youtility, “When you sell somebody a product, you have a customer for a day. But if you truly help someone, you can win a customer for life.”

The Origins

This concept of giving little unexpected extras isn’t new. Dating back to the early 1800s, its origin is in a creole word called lagniappe. Deriving from French and Spanish, lagniappe means “the additional gift.” It’s that something extra that is added for good measure4(highlight to tweet)

The Spanish origins are Quechuan from the word yapay, which means “to give more.” Mark Twain was so smitten with the word during his time in New Orleans that he wrote about it in Life on the Mississippi (1883). He called it “a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get.”

lagniappe defined

Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness

I call these examples of G.L.U.E. Purple Goldfish. Why purple and why a goldfish? Purple is a direct reference to New Orleans because of lagniappe. Purple, green, and gold are the three official colors of Mardi Gras.

The Goldfish represents something small, but it directly inspired Kimpton Hotels. A chain of boutique hotels, Kimpton embodies the doing the little something extra. Stay at any of the Kimpton properties and you’ll find:

  • free gourmet coffee and fresh fruit in the lobby
  • complimentary wine tasting in the afternoon
  • pet-friendly accommodations

My favorite perk is something a select number of the properties do for guests. Perhaps you are staying at a Kimpton for a few days, and you are getting lonely. Kimpton will give you a pet goldfish for your stay. They call it “Guppy Love.”

kimptons guppy love

Over the course of 27 months, I was able to crowdsource 1,001 examples of Purple Goldfish. These examples became the basis of my first book What’s Your Purple Goldfish and a recent TEDx talk in Douglasville, GA.

The Mirror Test

I challenge you to hold up a mirror to your business. How are you giving little unexpected extras for your customers?

Are you giving them something to talk about, tweet about, or post to Facebook about? What signature things help your business stand out in a sea of sameness? Are you doing the little things that can make a big difference? Are you ready to G.L.U.E?