The introduction to the book Creating Customer Evangelists tells the story of Southwest customer Ann McGee-Cooper. One month after the September 11 terrorist attacks, with the airline industry in complete chaos, Ms. McGee-Cooper send Southwest a check for $500, and a letter which included the following explanation:
We are encouraging our clients to fly Southwest Airlines. We are buying more stock…and we stand ready to do anything else to help. Count on our continuing support.
As for the $500 check, she explained that she sent it because Southwest needed the money “more than I do”.
If your company is lucky enough to have just ONE Ann McGee-Cooper as a customer, then no amount of advertising or marketing you could ever do, will be more effective than what she does every single day. Customers like McGee-Cooper are fans of your company. They go out of their way to tell others about you, and they try their damnest to convince everyone they know to give you their business. Because they believe in who you are, and what you are doing.
I left this comment to a post on Brains on Fire’s blog:
Find the people that are already singing your song, and give them the stage, the spotlight, and a microphone. We all want to be rockstars, and we tend to love the companies that make us feel like we are.
This is what I love about social media. Now all your customers have these new content creation tools to take the word of mouth that was formerly trapped offline, and bring it online. Now you have the ability to FIND that WOM, and can easily identify who your fans are.
And when you do, all that’s left is to give them the stage, the spotlight, and a microphone.
Oh and a hug and saying ‘Thank you!’ wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
PS: Helping companies connect with their online evangelists is the type of work that I love doing. If your company is considering such a project, please email me as I’d love to work with you to help get such a project off the ground.