How one company creates life-time customers…and ambassadors

It was the day before my wife Poh Lan’s first facial appointment with Estee Lauder. Her mobile phone rang. It was someone from Estee Lauder, introducing herself, and confirming the next day’s appointment.  Estee Lauder no doubt called to make sure that Poh Lan would show up. However, in doing so, they formed a positive first impression.

The next day. The reception area is smallish, but very bright and comfortable. You are warmly greeted by at least one of the beauty therapists, dressed smartly in white. There are nice magazines waiting for you. If you are early, they will offer you a nice cup of herbal tea.

Nice second impressions.

Then it is time for the facial. The customer gets into a comfortable robe, in a comfortable room, amid some soothing music, and the treatment begins. The steamer gently wafts a nourishing herbs into your skin. The beauty therapist gently weaves her magic on your face, then gives you a light massage. The beauty therapist will talk to you and sense if you want to talk.  She mentions that, perhaps, your skin could do with certain creams – but there is no hard sell. In fact, there is no sell, apart from a suggestion that your skin needs some daily help.

One and a half hours of bliss.

The customer then dresses and floats back to reception. She feels great. She is offered a cup of tea before she leaves. And, like Poh Lan, she buys her treatments 12 months at a time. Poh Lan is a life-time customer, and an ambassador who has recommended Estee Lauder to other people.

Let’s decode what Estee Lauder does that other companies  should do to create loyal, long term customers.

Design the end-to-end customer experience

Estee Lauder has designed an end-to-end customer experience.  It starts from the phone call the day before to confirm the appointment, and it ends with the cup of tea and warm farewell.

There are two parts to any customer experience – the functional component and the emotional component.  The functional part is the non-personal part ie it’s about what  you get. Was reception clean? Was it a relaxing facial?  The emotional component focuses on  how the customer is made to feel. Poh Lan told me that she is a loyal customer because she is made to feel special. And herein lies a key to creating long term customers – it is the emotional experience that builds long term loyalty.

They trained people to deliver

Companies like Estee Lauder understand the value of training their people to deliver a consistent customer experience. Poh Lan had a simple expectation when she went to Estee Lauder – to have a consistent experience. That is what she got, irrespective who treated her.

Systemise it

During Poh Lan’s first treatment, she indicated that she preferred a particular cap rather than a band, to hold her hair back. On her second visit, with another beauty therapist, she was given a cap. This company is in the business of treating every customer as an individual – and uses technology to record customer preferences.

Estee Lauder, is growing its business, one life-time customer at a time.

Simple, common sense…but not that common.


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