Customer Loyalty: Winning Hearts and Minds

March 3, 2016
Joseph Michelli, author of Driven to Delight
Joseph Michelli, author

Guest Poster: Joseph Michelli

The following is a guest post from Joseph Michelli.

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

In this post, Joseph explores how important hearts and minds are to earning customer loyalty. He also touches on some of our favorite themes — such as reducing customer effort and empowering team members.

And now, Joseph…

When it comes to new customer acquisition, advertisers and marketers strive to position a brand so that it becomes “top of mind.” However, if you want to improve customer engagement, increase loyalty, and drive referrals, the challenge is to connect with both the “mind” and “heart” of your customer.

If your products are of sound quality and your pricing is within the range of your competitors, customer satisfaction (their mind/cognitive assessment) may hinge on whether you deliver “get it right” and “make it right” service. If you operationally execute across all those dimensions AND deliver a consistent experience that is rich with “caring” and “delight” you will also win their hearts.

Customer Loyalty: Winning Hearts and MindsForrester research has found that the battle for the “hearts and minds” of customers is a strategic priority for 92% of corporate leadership teams.

Unfortunately, many brands are not even achieving satisfaction levels (the American Customer Satisfaction Index is approaching a 9-year low) let alone getting to matters of the heart.

In this, the age of the consumer, people increasingly want knowledgeable sales people, veritably perfect products, rich sets of product and service offering, instant delivery, and a strong emotional connection with the companies they choose to patronize.

By the way, if your business fails them on any of those fronts those very same customers have, at their fingertips, a plethora of other options, the ability to write scathing online reviews, and penchant for sharing negative stories widely throughout social media.

As such, I have been encouraging clients with whom I consult to ask their customers to assess the level of effort required to get their needs met across their journey with my clients’ brands.

As such companies like Mercedes-Benz USA (with whom I have worked and about whom I’ve written in my latest book Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way) focus on making the life of customers easy by empowering staff members, streamlining processes and strategically deploying technology.

One example of this is Mercedes Benz USA’s “Digital Service Drive.”

Before Digital Service Drive, most dealers purported to have “online-scheduling.” However, in some cases that was nothing more than posting the service department phone number on the dealership website so customers could then call and make an appointment – not a particularly easy set of hurdles to jump if you are the customer.

By contrast, the Digital Service Drive program includes, among other features:

  • Service Drive Tablets – iPads and Digital Service Drive technology enables a Service Advisor to complete the write up, vehicle history, walk around, customer information collection, and loaner contract processes, all from the advisor’s tablet. These activities take place in the service drive without the customers having to leave their vehicles.
  • Status notification automatically sent via customer-preferred method – The customer receives updates on the service process and a summary of the work being completed in easy-to-understand language.
  • Online Bill Pay -This feature enables customers to use their mobile devices to make self-service payments by delivering final parts and service invoices via text and email. It also allows customers to pay anywhere and anytime that is convenient to them. No need standing in line to pay after you talk to a service advisor!

From a dealer perspective, Digital Service Drive results in greater customer engagement by providing choice and cutting-edge tools that project a professional image for the dealership. From the customer vantage point, the Digital Service Drive simply means ease, convenience, and more productive use of time at the dealership.

So when it comes to your customers, how are you doing not only with satisfaction (mind) but ease, convenience and even delight (heart)?

Here’s to continued success satisfying and engaging customers along their journey with you!



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