Romantic relationships are a playground for blind love. You meet someone. You fall in love with them, and for a while, they can do no wrong.
It’s a human tendency to overlook the negative aspects of a person when you feel overwhelmingly positive toward them in other respects, and companies know this. That’s why some of the world’s most successful firms try to find ways to get people to love them blindly, even if they’re doing a terrible job.
An excellent example of this in action is the US automaker, Tesla. Tesla promised customers that it would be able to meet most of the pre-orders for its Model 3 last year by ramping up production to 5,000 units per week. Customers thought the company would deliver their vehicles within a few months of placing their orders, but thanks to production problems, there were massive delays.
If Tesla were any ordinary company, customers would abandon it in droves. Under normal circumstances, nobody would accept a delay of more than a year for the delivery of a product. But when it comes to Tesla and the enigmatic CEO Elon Musk, things are different. People are prepared to suffer through, just to get a chance to use the company’s products. It’s a remarkable situation.
So how do companies like Tesla do it? How do they get their customers to love them so much that they’re prepared to ignore all their failings?
They Understand Customers Grievances
When Dollar Shave Club first burst onto the scene several years ago, the company had a plan to usurp the existing shaving brands. Men were sick and tired of spending a fortune on replacement razor blades from the big brands like Gillette and Wilkinson Sword, and just wanted something that worked, but that also sold at a fraction of the price.
Dollar Shave Club understood this. Rather than forcing men to make repeated, expensive one-off purchases, the firm introduced the idea of selling shaving materials every month through a subscription model. The firm has more than 1.5 million people signed up to receive its products regularly.
The firm saw the success that it did because it took the time to understand what was enraging its customers about the current market setup. People hated paying premium prices for something that, quite frankly, should have been low cost. Dollar Shave Club lined its own pockets while at the same time cutting costs for consumers. It was a winning combination.
They Test Repeatedly
The most successful companies don’t rest on their laurels when they find a winning formula. Top companies know that no matter what system they devise, some other firm will eventually usurp it, replacing it with something better.
The way to get around this threat is through repeated testing. The best companies look for ways to improve all aspects of the customer experience, from product to customer service to delivery. Take the dating site, PlentyOfFish, for instance. The firm decided that it wasn’t doing a good job of matching people up to go on dates, so it started collecting data from customers. The firm is a believer in split testing – placing customers in two alternative experiences, and then seeing which yields the best results (a bit like a scientific experiment).
PlentyOfFish is highly methodical about what it does. Instead of dealing with a jumbled mess of variables, the firm takes a systematic approach to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
They Emphasize Their Product’s Best Features
Apple doesn’t produce the most technologically-advanced products in the world. Its devices often contain previous generation components or mid-range technology. But if you ask an Apple customer whether they think that the company is behind the technological frontier, they’ll laugh at you: of course, Apple makes the best products in the world.
Alas, none of it is true. Apple does not make the most advanced products. Compared to many of its rivals, the underlying technology is basic. But what’s interesting is that Apple has been doing this for years and, frankly, it doesn’t care. That’s because the company emphasizes its products’ best features, not where it falls short of the competition.
Apple customers love the fact that its products are easy to use, do what they want, and don’t crash. That’s the value opposition of choosing Apple above the competition, and the company knows it.
They Build A Reputation Outside Of Their Product
Online reputation management is becoming increasingly important for firms in an increasingly digital world. That’s why many companies are looking to build reputation outside of their product. What does that mean in practice?
Well, take Red Bull as an example. The company essentially adds chemicals to carbonated water in a big factory and ships them around the world. It’s not exciting. But when people think of Red Bull, they don’t think about the mundane process of manufacturing energy drinks: they think about the company’s impressive marketing portfolio.
Red Bull is synonymous with extreme sports, Formula One, and biplanes. The firm is essentially a sports sponsor, funded by a drink, rather than a drinks company. Red Bull built a brand outside of their product, diluting their risk and making them more appealing overall.
They Focus On Great Customers
Getting great customers is a priority for startups. They need to be able to attract people who have the inclination to offer a consistent income stream that will allow the company to become self-sufficient. But finding great customers can be difficult.
One of the ways some firms tackle this problem is by offering free trials. Free trials are an essential tool. Not only do they encourage impressions, but they also help to separate quality customers from the junk. Customers don’t know ahead of time whether they can derive value from a product, so they often need to experience it first. Giving customer this opportunity helps to discover quality customers who will stick around for the long-term and sign up because they benefit from the service. With free trials, retention rates improve.