Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving


Author: Noah Fleming
Pub Date: January 2015
Print Edition: $26.00
Print ISBN: 9780814434437
Page Count: 288
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814434444

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Seeing the Forest for the Trees

If you ever get the chance to travel to Vancouver Island in British Co-

lumbia, don't miss Cathedral Grove. En route to our final destination,

Tofino, a quaint town just on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and as far

west as one can go in Canada, my wife, Heather, and I traveled down the

bumpy, winding highway in our small rental car and eventually made it

to the halfway point.

Cathedral Grove is one of those rare spots on the planet that main-

tains an almost caricature-like feeling. It's as if you've entered a surreal

scene in the latest Pixar film. Nestled within MacMillan Provincial Park,

the trees here are old--really old--some almost 800 years old. People

from all over the world come to walk these forest trails canopied by an-

cient, towering Douglas firs, some more than 250 feet high. My wife and

I took the obligatory tourist photos of each other trying to wrap our arms

around the massive trunks.

We then sat for a while and took in everything as the trees swayed in

the wind. I couldn't help but think this isn't the place I'd want to be if

a large windstorm came rolling through, but at that moment it was sim-

ply peaceful. After walking for a while, we came upon a break in the for-

est that led to a small stream. We sat down on the water's edge to relax

for a few minutes, and though I was on my honeymoon and business

should have been the furthest thing from my mind, I couldn't help it.

Something about the evergreen trees intrigued me.

Then I realized: A great business is like an evergreen. Over time it,

too, can grow to be a giant, towering above others. Its presence in the

landscape is often awe-inspiring. It can be steadfast. Short of an act of

God, scandal, or major industry disruption, such a business--like an ever-

green--can weather most storms. Its customers are analogous to leaves

(or perhaps more precisely, needles, since an evergreen is a conifer), and

this kind of company is able to build incredible, long-lasting relation-

ships with its customers. Consequently, evergreens remain lush, healthy,

and green all year round. By contrast, other companies struggle to keep

their customers, or routinely shed them as though they are dead leaves,

and therefore are forced to continuously grow new leaves (or add new

customers) in order to survive.

The analogy is a simple one, but I've found myself coming back to

it again and again. One question in particular really resonates with me:

How is it that some companies seem able to effortlessly create

customer loyalty (thereby increasing their profits),

while others seem to be constantly dropping existing customers

and simultaneously struggling to find new ones?

Over the years I've spent a great deal of time working with companies

across a variety of industries, and I'm positioned to answer that question.

It has everything to do with the relationship between the company and

the customer--how the company approaches that relationship, what sys-

tems it puts into place, and how it thinks about marketing. Most com-

panies do not build those relationships beyond lip service--beyond the

typical (and tired) assertion, "We provide wow service!"

Great companies do more. They spend the time to continually cul-

tivate and nurture relationships with their customers, from even before

they were actually customers! When a company invests in this manner,

its customer relationships develop and become as strong as they can be,

with customer loyalty becoming a key factor of the relationship. Like the

roots of an 800-year-old tree, this loyalty eventually becomes capable of

supporting tremendous and continuous growth. This is the kind of com-

pany that becomes Evergreen.


When it comes to working with clients, I'm a pragmatist. I want my

clients to experience dramatic results, and quickly. My work can be boiled

down to helping them answer two simple questions: How do you most

effectively get a new customer? And more important: Once you have that

customer, how do you keep that customer for life?

My clients have come from all over the world and have worked in

hundreds of different industries. However, throughout the past decade,

I have largely focused on online entities. I became known in Internet cir-

cles as the Customer Retention Guy. I am the person companies call when

they want to figure out why they are losing customers, and how to stop

the bleeding.

It became apparent that many problems were similar from one com-

pany to the next. I soon identified three distinct areas where problems

could be located and solutions implemented. I named them the Three

Cs of an Evergreen organization. Once I saw these patterns clearly, I could

easily solve dozens of problems related to everything from sales and mar-

keting to customer service to employee retention and more. In short, I

could help a business go from losing customers and money one day to

keeping customers and making money the next. Companies started

bringing me in to do consultations, strategy sessions, workshops, and as-

sessments. I worked with marketing departments, sales teams, customer

service divisions, senior executives, and CEOs. It was satisfying, to say

the least, to recognize that so many complex business challenges could

stem from one of these three distinct areas.

But this book isn't about me. This book is about you and your busi-

ness. I'm here to help you now! I make some bold suggestions in the first

half of the book. For example, I debunk the myth that companies should

spend so much energy (and money) focusing on new customer acquisi-

tion, arguing that this is actually the root cause of at least half of their

problems. I also introduce and explain the Three Cs of an Evergreen or-

ganization--character, community, and content. These are the core prin-

ciples that I believe generate true customer loyalty--and not just a

pie-in-the-sky feeling of loyalty.

In the second half of the book, I make more bold suggestions. For

instance, I believe the traditional Four Ps of marketing are dead, and

there's actually a far more simplistic way to think about marketing. To

change your results you need to reevaluate the paradigm that was true

yesterday and exchange it for the paradigm that is true today. Our world

has changed. In these chapters I focus on the tactical and customer-

retention--enhancing approaches that are available to all businesses. There

are discussions about social media strategies, customer loyalty programs

(and the types of rewards your customers really crave), customer lifetime

value (CLV), and the ways that new customers interact with and com-

municate with your business. I also show you how to deal with customer

complaints, when to fire a customer, and how to have new customers fall

in love with you.

Note: Throughout the book I most often use the term customer, but

you can use it interchangeably with client. I'm not here to argue the subtle

distinctions between these two terms. Call them whatever you prefer,

provided it forces you to treat every one of them with deep and profound


The core message of this book is that keeping customers is not a mys-

terious process. It's not magical. Loyalty isn't some mythical essence that

some companies are lucky to have. It's built and created. Plus, it's down-

right simple to create when you have the right understanding of how all

the pieces fit together. Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty

That Keeps Your Business Thrivingpresents timeless principles for keeping

customers happy, using frequent examples drawn from both high-profile

companies and my own client files to demonstrate these principles in ac-

tion--and it provides the tools you need to make it easy for you to apply

each of these principles.

I'll make you this promise: On the pages that follow, I'll show you

what's worked with hundreds of my clients--how we've been able to shift

from a pure how-do-we-get-more-new-customers outlook to a how-do-

we-better-care-for-our-existing-customers mindset. Each time I've helped

my clients make this shift, the results have been impressive. Everything

has changed--from referrals, to word-of-mouth, to profit maximization,

to marketing effectiveness. Character, community, and content are the

roots of any successful company with truly loyal customers. Furthermore,

the biggest benefits come to those who are able to apply these concepts

long before they win the customer. What I'm presenting here is a system

that can be used not only to dramatically grow your business--but also

to ensure that your company will survive over the next ten years.


From service professionals on the front lines to sales professionals, sole

proprietors, small and medium-size business owners, senior-level execu-

tives, and even Fortune 500 CEOs, anyone whose business sells products,

service, or information, and thus has a customer, will learn and benefit

from the material in this book. Furthermore, I challenge anyone who has

been addicted to a we-need-more-new-customers-now philosophy pri-

marily because it seemed the only way to grow a company. (It isn't.

There's a better way. Read on.) I conceived and created this book for you.

Throughout Evergreen, I use a variety of stories and examples that

touch on a number of different industries. Please remember: Be open to

new ideas. The marketplace has changed with advances in technology. It

is only logical that your approach to marketing should follow suit with

this new paradigm. Don't dismiss ideas if you find your business and

your customers are different from those discussed. Everyone's customers

are different. And yet the concepts that I've used to help small and

medium-size businesses are the same as those being used by companies

such as Amazon and Apple (and they might not even realize it).


Today's customers demand something unlike anything they have ever

wanted in the past--a connection with your business. This means that

in order to increase customer loyalty, you need to create a relationship

with that customer on a deeper and much more profound level.

I believe that becoming Evergreen requires an entirely new way of

thinking about the market, our customers, and our marketing efforts.

When we are able to change our thinking and how we represent ourselves

(both in the marketplace as well as with our existing customers), we cre-

ate a better, richer, and more fulfilling experience for the customer. When

we, as business owners, take a vested interest in making these changes to

our day-to-day operations and, more important, change how we approach

relationships between our companies and our customers, we can't help

but build authentic customer loyalty.

By following the advice in this book, you will plant a seed that will

take root and grow your business like the towering evergreens of Cathe-

dral Grove. You'll be required to think differently, even counterintu-

itively, about everything you've done in the past with regard to

marketing your business, communicating with new and existing cus-

tomers, approaching social media and using the Web, managing your

reputation off-line and online, and dealing with negative feedback and

irate customers. I'll show you why the customer is not always right, and

why not every customer is worth keeping. I'll explain why some cus-

tomers are worth fighting to bring back, and why sometimes your dis-

loyal customers might offer you the greatest opportunity to increase

profits. The content that I'm going to share in this book requires you to

be bold, be willing to take a step into the unknown, and be able to accept

a level of uncertainty.

Here's what I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty: By imple-

menting what you learn in Evergreen, you'll acquire customers faster.

You'll also create legitimate brand loyalty--the type of loyalty that leads

to customers ranting and raving about your business, that generates mas-

sive referrals and strong word-of-mouth, and that isn't swayed by cheaper

prices, more features, or (often ineffective) rewards cards. You'll hold on

to customers even if your products and services cost more. You'll also re-

duce your marketing and advertising spending and increase spending on

the customers who already do business with you, and they'll return that

spending twenty times over. You'll develop a richer, more complex cus-

tomer experience that resonates with your customer. Finally, you'll no

longer wander the social media landscape, wondering if anyone is listen-

ing; you'll know exactly where to be, where to go, and what to say.

I could keep going, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest

that what I've already stated might be enough to keep you interested.

This is a book for visionaries--those willing to look at the act of "con-

ducting" business in a different light. Those willing to accept it's not

just "business as usual" anymore.

Welcome to Evergreen.

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