Zombies Dead Ahead! (It’s Cool, Though — You WANT These Zombies.)
Contributor Peter Shankman argues how stellar customer service, helped along by social media, can help you build an undead army of loyalists.
Let me set the scene for you. I’m in a bar, having a drink. I spot a lovely woman across the bar. I walk up to her and whisper, “You know, you don’t know me, but I’m freaking amazing. You should probably come home with me right now.”
I don’t need to tell you what happens next, but it involves her drink dripping down my shirt, after she throws it at my face. You’d never do this. You’re smarter than that. You know that that sort of “I’m awesome! Look how awesome I am!” direct approach never works, whether it be a bar or an online dating site.
So… why do you keep doing it to your potential customers by getting in their face with your marketing messages? There are much better ways.
Think about the last time you had an amazing experience in any aspect of your life as a consumer. Maybe it was the flight where you magically got upgraded, or the bartender who noticed you were on a crappy conference call and brought you a free drink. Whatever it was, chances are you told some people about it. More than likely, you told the world via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram or whatever your social network of choice may be.
The Review Is No Longer Where It’s At
Back when everyone was clamoring to get on social without a clue as to what to do once there, we heard a lot of the same advice: “Reach out to your customers online! Have them write reviews! Have them go to Yelp and TripAdvisor!” So marketers did this — and, in my experience, it didn’t really move the needle that much.
But now, it’s a different ballgame. If I have an amazing customer experience, I don’t need to post a review online or call out a company for good service. I don’t have to do anything at all out of the ordinary; yet, I’ll still influence my circle.
How? Well, let’s say I have a great steak at Morton’s Steakhouse and become a repeat customer. My network (whether it be Google or Facebook) also gets to know that my habit is to go to Morton’s. That’s because my ordinary routine — and the routine of many online citizens — is to post online about my life, as it happens.
I predict that eventually, when a friend of mine who trusts me shows up in NYC and types “steakhouses near me” into Google Maps, guess what will show up first? The Morton’s I go to all the time, despite my never having written a positive review.
The network — whether it’s Google, Facebook, or some other information source — will simply “know” that I like the place, and it will use its knowledge about my relationship to conclude that my friend is going to trust my instincts as well.
Patient Zero Of The Zombie Loyalist Outbreak
Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)
— Peter Shankman (@petershankman) August 17, 2011
The great experience I had with Morton’s after jokingly sending that tweet — detailed here — was what inspired me to coin the term “Zombie Loyalists.” Even when I don’t do anything out of the ordinary, I can (like the undead) infect others with my loyalties without even being aware of it. (Heck, Zombies do it without even being alive.)
I was the first to become infected in my network — and, in time, I’ll infect everyone in my network to go to Morton’s and become Zombie Loyalists for the restaurant as well. Morton’s, of course, has to keep up its end of the bargain by providing a great experience for every single person, or there’s a risk the infection will be stopped in its tracks. (I cover this topic in more detail in my forthcoming book, Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans.)
Think about what that infection-spreading means. Goodbye, Yelp. Goodbye, TripAdvisor. Hello to the network being smart enough to understand intention and sentiment.
A tweet that says, “Thanks, Morton’s!” is positive sentiment.
— Peter Shankman (@petershankman) August 25, 2012
This kind of tweet isn’t:
Dear Delta: you have now given me 18 minutes 2 make a connection, 2 terminals away. As always, that you're still in business astounds me.
— Peter Shankman (@petershankman) June 15, 2009
The network is getting smart enough to know that and deliver recommendations to my network based on my experiences only — not reviews. So what does this mean?
Customer Service = Marketing
Simple. The economy of the next fifty years is going to be driven by the customer service we receive. If it’s bad customer service, our network will know to avoid where we had the experience. But if it’s good, and continues to be good, the network will be moved to go there, to use that product, to fly that airline, to eat that steak, to shop at that store… because someone they trusted already did.
At the end of the day, it won’t be about social, or Facebook, or advertising.
Marketing will start (and, if it’s not good, end) with customer service. And so will your business.