Customer/Product Evangelism

Most marketers agree that one of (if not the) most effective ways to market your product or service is to make your existing customers evangelists. An excellent way to make your customers evangelists is to provide good customer service.

Product evangelism is a fairly broad term. To evangelize, by definition means to preach the gospel to. I would say there are products I constantly refer to others, but none that I’d consider preaching about.

Some examples of products, services, sites, etc. I evangelize:

There’s plenty of other sites, programs, etc. I refer people to a lot, but these would probably be the ones I recommend most often (because their uses are very general). On the other hand, I lack brand loyalty on quite a few other things (televisions, computers) and only keep using certain things/brands because I’m used to them and know how to use them (cellphones, digital cameras).

Another interesting thing is a large portion of the products, services, sites, etc. I refer to others frequently I haven’t even had a customer service experience with them. For example, I’ve never contacted or asked for support with Firefox, Skype, Audacity, WordPress, or ImageShack.us.

However, don’t start thinking “If I make a good product, I don’t have to worry about customer service.” I’ve never needed customer service, but I have interacted with people at Lifehacker and Guy Kawasaki’s blog, and the experiences have been pleasant. I’ve needed (and have had pleasant experiences with) customer service at ViewSonic and Amazon.com, which is one of the reasons I refer both of the companies to others.

Ideally, what you should try to reach is a happy medium. Make it so your product requires as little help as possible to use, but when a customer does ask for help, make sure the help provided is top notch.

Both Firefox and WordPress are open source projects with wonderful support communities (I’ve never asked either community a question, but I’ve heard good things about them), but the organizations’ ultimate customer service goal (I would imagine, though I can’t guarantee) is to make it so their respective products don’t have problems and are easy to use.

Make it so your customers have reasons to evangelize your product or service. Provide a great product (that’s useful) or a valuable service, and then if they need help, be ready to provide it. A great product with great customer service behind it will certainly help produce customer evangelists.

Good reads for information on customer evangelism:
Guy Kawasaki
Church of the Customer Blog

Some upcoming posts:
– Balance between quality control and obsession