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We’ve all seen those storefront signs urging us to “Come back soon” or “See you again”.  But what does it take for a customer to seriously consider returning to your company for a second time?  How can you ensure that your exit signs warrant responses like “Yes! I’ll definitely be back” or “I need to tell Suzy about this place”?  The difference between apathetic shoulder shrugs verses rave reviews are defined in first impressions.

For any business to thrive, they need customers to come back – it’s that simple.  Success is in the details, and your decision to foster world-class experiences is what drives customer loyalty.  The ability to generate referrals and regular customers are a sure sign that your organization is on the right track; however, simply providing a superior product or service is not enough to create a loyal base.  

Customers come back when three things go well in their experience:

Creating a memorable customer experience sounds simple, but customer loyalty only improves when each experiential component is met.  If one service area lacks, the others will fall short as well.  A quarterback can’t throw the touchdown pass without steady pocket protection from his teammates, just like an employee won’t delight the customer without a leader who radiates an inspired culture.

Let's break it down:


Happy employees = Happy customers.  

The first key to creating a delightful experience starts with engaging and inspired employees on the front line.  Their bright and shinning faces and a can-do attitude are the customer’s first encounter with your service culture, so a positive first impression is a must!


Your service culture should be oozing with organizational branding.  

Yes, we’re back to importance of branding.  Think about your last experience with your cable company for example.  If it was anything like mine, you probably felt frustrated, confused, and maybe even a little unwelcomed.  Does that experience make you excited to return?  No.  Do you walk around telling friends how much you love dealing with their call-center cronies? Hard no.  Would you feel positively towards the journey if your recent experience was a happier one?  Absolutely!  Creating an organizational culture that prioritizes positive interactions will drastically IMPROVE customer satisfaction.


Front line employees cannot bear all the customer loyalty weight.  

The desire to transform and grow must start with designing internal (employee) and external (customer) processes through the eyes of the customer. Then, these processes can be supported by leaders who instill enthusiasm in their employees by focusing on in-depth training and promoting exceptional service at every touchpoint.  Committing to your process is what will set you apart from other organizations doing the bare minimum to attract business.


If one or all aspects of the customer experience go wrong, bad things happen.  Ominous music will play and cold chills will travel down your spine.  Even worse, business will suffer.  Research shows that differentiated experiences and establishing meaningful relationships are deciding factors in business referrals and a customer’s intent to return.  Therefore, management and employees must consistently commit to serving their customers in a responsible, purposeful way.

In my experience as a Disney leader, I learned that we should never underestimate the power of a delighted customer.  Walt Disney World has earned a guest return rate of just under 80%...WOW!  We’ve been quoted as saying that Customer Experience is a solid business strategy for financial reasons, and I like to think we know what we’re talking about.  After all, Disney does pretty well for themselves, right?  

What can you DO BETTER to ensure valued customers RETURN?


ABOUT MIKE DONNELLY: With over 20 years of Disney leadership experience, Mike Donnelly, Chief Experience Officer (CEO) of Donnelly Effect shares his insights on Talent Selection and HiringEmployee OnboardingCustomer ExperienceService Culture and Leadership- among others. Donnelly Effect is home of the exclusive "World-Class Workshop" series and offers consulting services and keynote addresses to audiences of all sizes and industries. Since 2007, Mike Donnelly has been a contracted Disney Institute Facilitator, delivering Disney customer service training to audiences across the United States.  


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