Harvard Business Press was good enough to send me an advanced copy of Bill Lee’s The Hidden Wealth of Customers. If you have read John Jantsch’s The Referral Engine and/or Lou Imbriano’s Winning the Customer, you’ll perhaps understand what I mean when I say that if those 2 books had a baby, this would be it.
At the core of the book is the idea that companies do not really understand who their greatest brand advocates are, nor do they understand how to harness the power of those people. Unlike The Referral Engine or Winning the Customer, Lee gets a bit more technical. For example, this book delves a lot into details about things like NPS (Net Promoter Scales). Also offered are formulas that will help you calculate how profitable your customers are. For example, if someone buys from you and says, “I bought from you because Jane said you guys were great,” you can attribute a portion of that sale to your customer Jane.
The real core of the book, however, is that the old relationship between company and customer needs to undergo a facelift. The days of you just selling stuff and your customers just buying stuff are now gone. Lee makes a case for helping to nourish your “rock star” customer.
There are a lot of ways you can nourish a customer from the point of awareness down to being a cherished brand advocate. But what becomes clear in Lee’s book, just as is underlined in the books by Jantsch and Imbriano, is that you have to have an organized approach towards gathering the information you need to make this happen. For example, you need to know who among your customers wants to refer you to other people. In order to give your customers a memorable experience, you have to know not only what they want but also what they want to accomplish.
Lee uses an example of a company helping a “rock star” expand her influence in her industry. The company invites her to write white papers and speak at their events. As she builds momentum she continues to refer to the company as one that partnered with her to help her out. Everybody wins, and once this type of relationship starts, it can continue to increase its benefits for all parties involved.
The only thing that really bothered me about the book was the use of the phrase “Return on Relationship.” I think this kind of buzz phrase, at a time when ROI is not really understood, can confuse/mislead a lot of people and perhaps distract them from the key point Lee is trying to make.
If you are looking for ways to deepen your relationship with your customers, this book will definitely give you some great ideas and some strong recommendations on how to track and measure your efforts.
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