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  • Sam Decker

Making Nevangelists

Think about a bad customer experience you’ve had. It could be a customer service issue, or defective product, or rude interaction with an in-store or phone representative.

What was the conclusion? I’m guessing there are three possibilities:

A. No response or recognition by the company. You left disappointed, if not irate, never to return. B. They dispatched a standard resolution to your dissatisfaction…in your mind, a compromise. C. They acted quickly, apologized and delighted you with a resolution that exceeded expectations. Their actions earned your loyalty.

I’ll bet A gets the majority of votes. Followed by B. And you wish you knew which companies that have done C.

I want to propose a unique strategy to find influencers and evangelist. Find customers who had a negative experience, told you about it, and then catapult them into delight.

First, let me say this is not an excuse not to pursue excellent product and service experience. However, no company is perfect. Even Ritz Carlton occasionally has customer experience issues. The difference is they give even the janitor $2,000 budget limit to resolve them.

These, once negative customers, can turn into positive evangelists. They are, or can be, your “Nevangelists”.

Why is this a good strategy?

  1. Influencers, which could be 10-15% of your customers, are the vocal core of your customer base, positive or negative.

  2. It easy to identify influencers who have a negative experience…because they are typically vocal to the company as well as others. So when the negative influencer reports an issue, it’s an opportunity to identify and act.

  3. A negative experience results in emotional momentum (energy), which can be reversed into positive momentum.

  4. Reversing a negative experience gives an evangelist a story to share, one that perhaps more important than your product, tells others about the character of your company!

The two principles to make this work are:

  1. Overwhelm negative emotion with disproportionate and equal dose of apology and resolution.

  2. Demonstrate a permanent resolution to their experience, describing the steps you will take to correct the issue in the future.

For example, you can denote the severity of customer experience issues on an X axis. Then map the corresponding equal resolutions along the Y axis. Then deploy a resolution strategy so that for any issue (X) that Y > X. Here’s what it looks like:


The greater response does not necessarily need to cost more, but rather have a higher ‘emotional’ impact to the negative experience. For example, an apology from the waitress with a coupon for free dessert is not as powerful as the chef delivering the new steak himself with apology. And maybe at the end of the meal he brings a unique dessert creation that he wants you to review. A greater response is a surprising, delightful, unexpected response

Finally, when delivering the resolution or after resolution (follow up via phone, email, etc.), demonstrate steps that are taken to prevent that negative customer experience from happening again.

All I ask is Microsoft tell me what they are doing with those “error reports” I send in when Windows crashes!

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