Customer Passion Breeds Loyalty. Just Ask Apple.

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As a general rule of thumb, your customers probably like – or maybe even love – your company if they’ve purchased your product or service. But there’s a big difference between liking a company and being completely passionate about it.

And I’m talking about being really passionate. To the point where they enthusiastically encourage others to use your products, go out of their way to write a blog post about you, or publish Tweets and status updates that promote your excellence to their social and business networks.

Need a more descriptive and tangible example of consumer passion? Well, the following should do the trick.

A prime example of customer passion

For the longest time, I was a huge fan of Microsoft and Windows. I resisted the allure of switching to Apple.

Then the iPhone came into my life. Since then, I’ve gone Apple and I’ve gone all in. If Steve Jobs decides he wants to start making kitchen sinks, I’ll buy them. I spend more money with Apple than I ever did with Microsoft, and I’ve convinced my whole family to spend money on their products, too.

Now, I know this story is cliché, but I don’t care. I’m passionate enough about Apple (and what Steve Jobs has done to advance the state of technology), so I’m going to write about it anyway.

Like millions of people, my love for Apple began with the iPhone a few years ago

After a decade of waiting for the smartphone nirvana to become a user-experience delight, it was Jobs who finally delivered. He figured out how to design a powerful smartphone that anyone could use.

And I do mean anyone. My 18-month-old son figured out in a matter of days how to navigate the settings to turn on the phone’s WiFi. A few days later, he discovered how to navigate to the kid section of the App Store to download a game (the only thing he hasn’t figured out is my password, thank goodness).

That usability, argues Jared Spool, the founder and CEO of User Interface Engineering, has not only changed the way Apple and its competitors do business, but also the way that technology businesses in almost every sector think about user experience and design.

Then came my first experience with customer service at the Apple Store

My iPhone 4’s proximity detection was having problems, and was letting my cheek decide when to mute the phone. I took the phone to the store without first making sure it had the latest update.

“No problem, sir,” the store’s customer service associate told me. “I’ll just give you a new refurbished handset so you don’t have to wait.”

Right then, right there, I experienced the delights of wonderful customer service.

Meanwhile, my wife was experiencing trouble with her 10-month-old Dell computer around the same time

The trackpad broke, so we contacted Dell customer service to have it taken care of. It took two weeks of intermittent calls with Dell support in India, remote access and updates of drivers, online chats, voicemails, and more headaches than I can count.

The trackpad is still broken and my wife will be getting a new Mac very soon.

No limit to usability

My 81-year-old mother – who had never, ever used a computer before last year – was the definition of a technology neophyte.

That is, until Apple released the iPad. Now she’s emailing, Facebooking and Netflixing like there’s no tomorrow. My favorite scene is watching my 3-year-old son teach my mom how to download apps. Hail Steve Jobs!

Then I bought the new Mac Air.

If you’ve never experienced the opening splash screen on a Mac, it’s worth buying one just to see it. Since then, I haven’t been happier using a laptop. Good riddance to Windows and its countless versions. Never again to Windows Updates. No more downloading countless drivers to get the Sony Vaio to work right with Windows 7.

If I wasn’t passionate about the company before that purchase, I was now officially an Apple evangelist.

So are your customers passionate about you?

Prove it to me by sending me a customer blog post like this one about your company.

And if your customers aren’t passionate about you, then do something about it.

For example, if you’re an SaaS company that sucks at making usable products, then start committing resources that will improve your product’s usability. Former Facebook and product manager Noah Kagan even shares a few ways to perform usability tests of your site and product for free.

Generally speaking, I find that expansion stage software companies spend very little time focusing on delighting their customers through exceptionally designed user experiences. They invest even less time designing customer support that will leave each customer thrilled that they purchased their product or service.

It’s time to change that. The residual obsession that your customers develop for your company will be well worth the effort.