On Tuesday I wrote about how you can’t buy evangelism, but you can spend money to help secure it. While you should certainly go read the post, the gist was this: reward your evangelists (and budding evangelists) greatly and they’ll give back by continuing to spread the word.

The examples we used yesterday were two companies whose marketing efforts were mainly run by their owners. This is where the generosity-breeding-evangelism idea falls down: most companies don’t give their support or community people any power over things related to finances.

smiling call center employeeEvangelism cannot be maintained if it’s not genuinely supported across the whole organization.

As empowering and inspiring as generosity from a company is, it can be that much worse when an employee can’t help you. Hearing “I’ll have to talk to my manager” or “I’m not qualified to do that” is about the most infuriating thing ever. It’s even worse when one arm of a company is generous (Comcast Cares) and the other incompetent (Comcast). What if the evangelist you treated to a free movie ticket on Twitter calls in to your support line and has a mediocre experience? The fire is gone. The evangelism is quashed.

Zappos isn’t the massive customer service success it is today because they have a handful of community managers giving out expedited shipping. They’re a success because every employee is not just empowered, but encouraged to delight their customers. These employees give away expedited shipping when they know it will delight a customer and create an evangelist. And because they have this freedom, Zappos’ NetPromoter ratings are “in the stratosphere”.

Learning how to spot evangelists

two people having fun singing karaokeThe CFOs are freaking out again. Calm down, guys! I’m not suggesting you let your just-hired support guy run rampant giving away deals to his friends. Zappos gives all employees four weeks of training. They ensure the employees understand and believe in the values of the company. And they spend time observing how their employees do, then work with them to improve.

While you should be trying to make all customers happy, you can’t reward everyone. Save your rewards for the people who are going to generate 10 more customers for you instead of 1 more sale. It’s really pretty easy. These are:

  • People who are already raving about your business
  • People who are bringing new people to your business
  • People who are influencers within the sphere that matters to you (it doesn’t matter if Scoble tweets about your restaurant, but it does matter if the foodie from down the street tells all his friends that your food is great)
  • People who are passionate in general, even if they’re not (yet!) passionate about your business

Don’t give away Tuesday specials to everyone. Don’t have a happy hour to bring people in. Those people will use you and leave you. Instead, have a happy hour special for people who sing on your karaoke machine (thus attracting new customers who are walking by and hear the fun happening). Give a discount code to the person who wrote a thank-you note on their napkin because they loved your food. Those people are passionate evangelists, and rewarding them will pay off.

Are you rewarding evangelists? Have you seen it pay off? Share your story in the comments!
Call enter photo courtesy of ma.co

Karaoke photo courtesy of Mohan S