Repairing the “leaky bucket”: Kellogg alum Dan Gingiss publishes book on customer experience

Dan Gingiss headshot for his book publication

Photo courtesy of Dan Gingiss

Customer experience speaker and Kellogg alum Dan Gingiss. He released “The Experience Maker: How to Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait to Share” in September.

Jenna Wang, Reporter

When one man’s pet cat died, he didn’t think anyone could resonate with his grief. 

That was until he reached out to the pet company, asking if he could return his unused pet food. The man not only received a full refund, but also a bouquet with a note expressing condolences.

Customer experience speaker and author Dan Gingiss (Kellogg ’02) tells this true story in his latest book, published in September, as an example of how customer experience can help companies stand out from their competitors. 

His book, titled “The Experience Maker: How to Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait to Share,” explores how companies can retain their existing customers and rethink their approach to marketing. 

Years of experience working in corporate America with companies like McDonalds, Discover and Humana inspired the book, Gingiss said. 

“One of the most effective ways of teaching both as a speaker and an author is by storytelling,” Gingiss said. “My hope is that by sharing all of those examples, I inspire people to think a little bit differently and to go to work tomorrow and say, ‘Why have we always done it this way? How can I be a force of change?’” 

Gingiss said any company can improve the customer experience by focusing on the best asset they already have: existing customers. 

Too often, he notices companies lose customers almost as quickly as they attract them, in a phenomenon known as the “leaky bucket.”

“If you cannot compete on price, and you cannot compete on product, the only thing left is competing on customer experience,” Gingiss said. “When we create remarkable experiences for our customers, they spend more, they stay with us longer and they refer others to us so they actually become our best marketing and sales team.” 

Ann Handley, digital marketing expert and best-selling author, also agreed in the forward of the book. 

She wrote she believes the best way to create such a personalized experience is to focus on the customer’s perspective. 

“‘Customer empathy’ gets tossed around a lot in marketing,” Handley wrote. “But ultimately, it’s about not just stepping into your customer’s shoes, but also walking in them through your own business.”

Bryan Kramer, an executive business coach who has worked with Gingiss on private coaching, took advice from Gingiss’s book to rebuild his website. 

He particularly focused on integrating customer experience through the language and imagery of his website. 

“(Gingiss) thinks of customer experience as the new marketing,” Kramer said. “As he launched his book into the world, it’s just made an even bigger impact on what he’s able to do now.”

Gingiss said much of his work stems from his days at the Kellogg School of Management, where he took his first marketing class. But out of 11 required core credit classes, Gingiss left Operations for last. The class revolved around how organizations could structure their processes to support strategic objectives. 

“I was convinced I was going to hate it,” Gingiss said. “And Operations not only turned out to be one of my favorite classes, (but) I actually turned it into one of my majors at Kellogg. That really started and ignited my love for customer experience.” 

As the world of marketing and customer experience continues to change, Gingiss said he encourages companies to be more responsive in the social media space. He believes it’s the only marketing channel of its kind where people can “talk back.” 

Especially among younger consumers, Gingiss said he has noticed a desire for corporations to recognize their consumers as not just buyers, but real people who care about certain issues. 

“If I’m going to spend my hard earned dollars with a brand, I want to know what they stand for,” Gingiss said. “I want to know what social issues are important to them. I want them to respond to me when I have a question. I want them to recognize me as a customer, not just as an account number.”

This attention toward the individual customer separates the most successful companies from the rest, Gingiss said. 

But if readers of his book take away anything, Gingiss hopes that one golden rule will stick. 

“Treat your customers like you like to be treated as a customer, and you will never go wrong,” Gingiss said. 

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Twitter: @jennajwang

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