Why You Should Forget Customer Service, Experience, and Loyalty

Forget all the books you read about customer service, customer experience, and customer loyalty. You only need to know one thing for business success: Customer Joy. If you are not bringing joy to your customers, they will find it somewhere else.

Customer Joy Officer was not Ken Schmidt’s title when he helped turn around Harley-Davidson as they slipped farther and farther into collapse in the early 80s. Schmidt’s title was Director of Communication but without an advertising budget and competition that produced quality, lower-priced motorcycles, he couldn’t compete with cash. 

Schmidt had to discover how to give customers the one thing they all want more than lower prices—joy. “We return to joy loyally until it fails us,” said Schmidt. Bringing the joy back, Schmidt rebuilt Harley-Davidson into an industry leader.

If you want to bring joy to your customers, here are three suggestions.

Ask what they want.

Delete those surveys. If you’re using surveys to find out what your customers want, you’ve already lost the battle. Schmidt suggests you ask a customer when they are actually in your presence—before they hand over money. 

Asking them at the point of sale if everything was fine—like they do at hotels or your local Trader Joe’s—is not good enough. Ask customers what they need when they walk in your door. Ask how you can help them when they are enjoying your service. You’ll bring more joy to your customers when they are in front of you than you will ever bring them when they leave your presence. Because once they leave unhappy, they probably won’t come back.

Tell a different story.

Don’t use the same language as your competitors. If you say the same thing as everyone else in your industry, your customers will think you have nothing better to offer. Companies that have nothing better to offer can only compete on price, and price is a losing battle when it’s pinned against joy.

However, if you sound different from your competitors, you’ll convince people you are better than the rest. When Schmidt was with Harley-Davidson, he changed the language of the company. No longer did Harley have customers or motorcycles. Instead, the company talked about disciples and lifestyle. Sounding different made Harley-Davidson fun again, it brought joy to their customers, and it helped turn the company around.

Exceed expectations.

Meeting expectations is a sure path to mediocrity. If you give people what they expect, you will not bring them joy. If you do the same things your competitors do—offer the same features and benefits—you are on a fast track to an abrupt stop at the middle. 

Customers who have found joy in your product or service will tell other people about your product, and they will come back to use your service again.

At Harley-Davidson, the company considered three questions to help exceed expectations. 

  1. What are people saying about us?
  2. What do we want them to say?
  3. What are we doing to make them say it?

The answers to these questions will show your company how to exceed expectations.

If you want your customers to return again and again, then bring them joy each time they interact with you. Remember you can bring your customers more joy by asking what they want, telling a different story, and exceeding expectations.

Kyle Crocco is the Chief Creative at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and the lead singer of Duh Professors. He regularly publishes business book reviews and thought articles on MediumBusiness 2 Community, and Born 2 Invest.