4 reasons why creating customer fans is like shooting fish in a barrel

I’m not sure what got me thinking about the phrase, but “it’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel” is an odd concept. It conjures up a feeling of sadist pleasure and cruelty, and although it has the same meaning as “taking candy from a baby”, seems altogether more extreme.  For this reason it might seem odd to link creating customer fans with such a macabre pastime, but if you think about another simile, maybe turning customers into fans truly is “as easy as pie”.

1. The fish are in a barrel: Back to the analogy, the fish are swimming around in a barrel, they can’t jump out, because they’ll be out of the water, so they are, in effect, a captive audience.  Likewise, customers, once they’ve signed up or purchased your product or services are right there in front of you, waiting to be engaged, delighted and won over.  They are yours to loose, by neglecting them, over-promising on the product or even worse, delivering poor service.  Understanding what they want, and why they purchased is key.  I don’t book a train ticket because I want to go on a train, I book it to travel to a location for a purpose.  The purchase is merely the vessel by which I achieve my desired outcome.  If your business is too focused on how your product fits your customer, you may well be overlooking the reason that the customer purchased your product.  A mobile phone is for calling and surfing the web, a chocolate bar is for satisfying my hunger.  How well do you understand your customer-desired outcome for purchase?

2. The fish don’t know their way out of the barrel: Imagine the fish, as they circle round and round, wonder how they got there and why they are even there.  If only someone knew why they were there and could show them where to go.  In the same way, customers are looking to be guided through your customer journey.  You’re the expert, after all, because you made and sold them the product.  How well you own and manage your customers through your customer journey has a huge impact on how likely you are to retain them.  If you retain them, you’ve a better chance of promoting extra services to them, so walk though your customer journey and reflect on how well you manage it!

3. The fish can’t use a gun even if they wanted to: As they don’t have hands, so you’re unlikely to see a gun-totting fish. But even if they did, we can’t be sure that they would know how to.  You are the expert, not them, so you know exactly how your product works, who it’s aimed at, what flaws exist with it and hopefully how to fix them.  All the data gathered as your customer moves through your customer journey can be turned into insight to better understand the relationship between your product and your customer, making changes to the product and the experience to ensure an ever tighter fit.  Are you fixated on data, or are you using it to create insight on customer behavior?

4. You hold the gun, not the fish: The fish don’t have a lot of options in the barrel, but you do.  You’ve got the gun, and the power to shoot or to not shoot the fish. So in effect, you hold all the cards – you know the customer, you know the product and you have all the information necessary to distress or delight the customer.  Turning customers into fans is within your gift, even if you are constrained by budget, systems, regulations or other factors.  Like the fish, customers are not terribly complex.  They had a need, they bought your product, now they simply expect it to do what they want.  In many instances, this is enough to turn them into fans (think about how First Direct’s reliable and human service is one of their biggest selling points.)  So what metrics and measures do you use to understand your customer journey delivery and compare it to how customer perceive it?

OK, maybe the linking customer fans with fish, barrels and guns may be a bit tenuous, but hopefully this post got you thinking about who is responsible for your customer experience and what steps you might take to shift the gear into a better controlled and managed delivery!

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