Have you ever given a passionate recommendation for a product or service? Do your customers tell their friends and family about your company?

Before getting too far into how to create customer evangelists, Huba and McConnell describe the importance of understanding what customer evangelists are and how they behave, as well as the differences between repeat customers and “true believers.”

Here are the 7 clues presented as to recognizing a customer evangelist:

  1. They passionately recommend your company to friends, neighbors, and colleagues. (Passionately being the operative word!)
  2. They believe in the company and its people. (People are loyal to people, not necessarily brands).
  3. They purchase your products and services as gifts.
  4. They provide unsolicited praise or suggestions of improvement.
  5. They forgive occasional subpar seasons or dips in customer service.
  6. They do not want to be bought; they extol your virtues freely.
  7. They feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Of course every company wants to believe that every customer they have is a customer evangelists, but unless you’re going out of your way again and again to solve a problem for that person and make them feel special, that’s probably not the case.

Everyone is drowning a sea of media these days and people make decisions based on recommendations (passionate recommendations) from friends, family and colleagues.

Create passionate recommendations by using Huba and McConnell’s strategies they call “the six tenets of customer evangelism:”

  1. Customer plus-delta: Continuously gather customer feedback.
  2. Napsterized knowledge: Make it a point to share knowledge freely.
  3. Build the buzz: expertly build word-of-mouth networks.
  4. Create community: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.
  5. Make bite-size chunks: Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite.
  6. Create cause: Focus on making the world, or an industry, better.

QuikTrip, a chain of 80+convenience stores in the Kansas City area does a great job of creating customer evangelists. Before moving to KC years ago, I didn’t know I could love a convenience store so much. But I do and I tell everyone that comes through KC that QuikTrip is the place to stop for gas and snacks. (I’m in no way paid or compensated for these recommendations, which is core to the creation of customer evangelism).

Here’s how QuikTrip stands out and has made me tout their qualities to everyone I know:

  • All the stores are laid out the same or nearly the same. To find a clean restroom, walk in the front and take a left.
  • The restrooms are actually clean, they don’t just say they are like a lot of other stores. An employee checks the restroom every half an hour and signs off on a daily sheet on the back of the bathroom door.
  • There are usually 2 people behind the counter and one of them always says, “Welcome to QuikTrip.”
  • Employees always ask if help is needed to find something.
  • The employees are clean and well put together in khakis and tucked in red QuikTrip shirts.
  • The employees look like they like their job and seem to enjoy people.
  • An employee always says, “See you later!” to all customers when they’re on their way out the door.
  • They don’t frequently (if ever) run out of change or receipt paper or had their credit card processing go down. They know that when people are in a convenience store, they are in a hurry.
  • The stores are clean.
  • They’re designated “Safe Places“, have security cameras capturing the parking lot and store entries, and are extremely well lit inside and outside.
  • They offer 69 cent fountain drinks in the summer and $5 fresh sandwiches year round.

QuikTrip does not partner with with any fuel money-saving programs but that doesn’t seem to deter shoppers from stopping in for gas and snacks.

Main take-away message? Customers that feel well-served and comfortable with you will go out of their way to tell others about your company.

Is there a company you feel like you’re a customer evangelist for? Does this surprise you and how did they win your loyalty?

Who are your customer evangelists and what is it that keeps them coming back?

Originally published at www.ampersandbusiness.com