Vail Daily column: Understanding the ‘Cult of the Customer’ |

Vail Daily column: Understanding the ‘Cult of the Customer’

Richard tenBraaknewsroom@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado

A congratulations to the two returning Vail Town Council members, Andy Daly and Margaret Rogers, both of whom were the two incumbents on this year’s council election. And congratulations to Greg Moffet and Ludwig Kurz, who were also elected and who are both former council members returning to serve the community again. The Vail Chamber & Business Association looks forward to working with the council to create a positive business environment in Vail! And congratulations to the voters of Vail for passing the expenditure of the $9.4 million that was in the conference center funds.Last Thursday, Vail Resorts, the Vail Chamber & Business Association and the Vail Valley Partnership hosted the Merchant Pass prerequisite class “Service to the Power of You.” The guest presenter was Shep Hyken, who last presented two years ago. Shep is an amazing presenter and brought home the importance of customer service through his “Cult of the Customer: How to Create an Amazing Customer/Guest Experience.”I like to share some of the program with you. For those that attended this will be a little refresher course, for those that didn’t, it will be new and exciting! The “Cult of the Customer” is the organization’s customer focused culture. There are five cults, or phases, that each customer goes through from the time they start doing business until they become loyal customers. For a company to create an amazing experience, the employees of the company must first pass through these phases before the customers do. The five cults are:• The Cult of Uncertainty: At best, service is inconsistent. At worst, the service is terrible. Even companies with great reputations can be trapped in uncertainty if their service or product is inconsistent. An example being Southwest Airlines – their service is great but the arrival time is on par with the industry.• The Cult of Alignment: This is where the company has created a brand promise, or mantra, that lets employees and customers know what to expect. And more than that, the company must make sure every employee understands this mantra and is working to deliver on the promise. This is done through training and reinforcement of the message – or mantra. Examples are the Outback Steakhouse had a brand promise that was “Great Food, No Rules!” Or the Ritz-Carlton, “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”• The Cult of Experience: Even with a great brand promise, the customer may not have confidence until that promise is experienced, sometimes numerous times. An example of Cult of Experience is PayPal. The first time a customer uses PayPal they may be a bit uncomfortable giving up personal information that includes bank account and credit card numbers. Once the customer experiences how easy and safe it is, making a payment through PayPal becomes painless and the experience becomes predictable.• The Cult of Ownership: Once the customer experiences the promise, and it is predictable, the customer owns it. This is a very powerful place to be. The experience becomes predictable and you can count on it, every time.• The Cult of Amazement: This is the ultimate cult. When the experience is predictable and if it is consistently better than average, the company has risen beyond satisfactory. People may think that “amazement” means a “wow” experience. Yet it is simpler than that. It is confidence in a predictable above average experience.Now, what are you going to do in your business to get your employees and your customers through these five levels of Cults, to reach that level of amazement?Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the VCBA weekly e-newsletter, all you need to do is email us at to start receiving it.The Vail Chamber & Business Association is the leading business advocacy group in Vail and is a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber and Business Association and what we have to offer to business in and that do business in Vail, please contact us at 970-477-0075 or email Based in Vail Village, our office is located on the top level of the Vail transportation center and our doors are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by and say hello!Richard tenBraak is executive director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association.

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