How Dweezil Zappa delivers a great customer experience

This is a guest post from Mark Hurst — CEO of Creative Good and co-author of “Customers Included: How to Transform Products, Companies, and the World — With a Single Step.” You can also catch Mark speaking about “Customers Included” at SocialMedia.org’s upcoming Brands-Only Summit this October. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

Brian Neale, from Cars.com, wrote me the following account of his experience at a Dweezil Zappa concert.

The lessons about customer experience are so rich that I’m happy to share Brian’s email, with his permission.

You know who gets customer experience?

Dweezil Zappa.

After spending a few years slavishly devoted to learning his dad’s unique style of guitar playing, he re-launched his career as “Zappa Plays Zappa.”

Like most acts, he started tiny, despite a decent-sized target market (mostly 50-75 year old dudes) who thought Frank Zappa was god’s gift to music, politics, and culture.

First time I saw him perform was about five years ago at tiny Morse Theater in Chicago. It had just opened and was devoted to good experience. For example, you could buy good beer. And drink it in a glass glass.

A few days before the show, I got an email from Dweezil himself, as did the other 249 ticket buyers who had provided an email during the ticket-buying process. He wanted to know what I wanted to hear.

When the big night came, he proceeded to play many of the top-10 requests, only omitting songs that were “too technically and emotionally difficult to tackle.”

In the words of the immortal Frank, “but he wasn’t done yet.”

Instead of a paper ticket, every ticket buyer got a laminated “VIP pass” for the general admission show. Halfway through the concert, he told us to look for a number on the back of the pass and drew a number out of a hat.

The winner was invited onstage to jam on the next song and got to take home a sweet replica of one of Frank’s iconic guitars.

Fortunately for the rest of his “customers,” the winner claimed to be a pretty good guitarist. If not, Dweezil was just going to teach him a couple chords and play something simple. Instead, he just said, “Awesome! Key of C…” and they started jamming. I was blown away. It was musical zen.

That code on our passes also allowed every customer to download the show we’d just heard a few days later – an unexpected novelty in 2008.

This is fresh on my mind as I just finished your excellent book, and because I’m going to see Dweezil for the 5th time tonight… and I’m honestly not even that into more than 5% of Frank’s music. But I’m a Dweezil customer for life.

– Brian Neale, Cars.com

[P.S. from Mark: Here’s a clip of a recent Dweezil Zappa performance showing the audience participation Brian mentions.]

email

About Mark Hurst

Mark Hurst, founder and CEO of Creative Good, has spent his career writing and speaking about how organizations and individuals can create better customer experiences. Most recently, he co-authored Customers Included, a book about strategy and customer experience.

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