How to Get Your Customers to Pay 140% More

A Harvard Business Review study found that customers who have a positive experience with your brand will spend 140% more.

Now, read that again. Do you even believe it? It’s pretty outrageous. Just plug your numbers in there. Creating a genuinely positive experience could be absolutely game-changing for you.

I’ll never forget the time I saw these results come to life literally before my eyes.

Go with me (and I hope we can someday) to Playa de Carmen just south of Cancun, Mexico. It was 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve (New Year’s Day, technically) and we were committed to get an early win and achieve our resolution for a life of late night taco 4th meals. I had asked around and done my research. We landed at El Fogón — a bright yellow, two story taqueria inland from the beach with local artist paintings of Looney Tunes characters on the walls. Amazing.

As if starting off the new year with tacos wasn’t incredible enough, we felt like we hit the jackpot with the friendliest server in the world, Santos. His happy banter, non-stop smiles and incredibly attentive attitude was endearing — and surprising, given that he was working all night on New Year’s Eve. He brought us extra limes, extra pineapple, extra off-menu items (my Achilles heel) and brought them FAST. Oh, we loved Santos, we loved the tacos, and we vowed to be back that same day.

About 18 hours later, we were back for round two. Santos heard we were there (he knew we’d be return) and ran downstairs so he could get us to sit at his table. We ordered extra crispy al pastor tacos (he remembered how we like it cooked) and even shared with us the secret ingredient of the pastor marinade — orange Fanta. Because it was a slower night, he stayed at our table a bit so he could practice his English — “I want to better communicate with my clients,” he said.

As we gathered to take a pic with Santos so we could always remember this euphoric taco experience, someone in the back kitchen dropped what must have been 50 large glasses on the floor. There was a split second of silence after the glorious crash of glass and then the kitchen staff started clapping and laughing, and pretty soon everyone in the taqueria erupted in applause and cheers — celebrating the hilarity of the unfortunate moment.

And then it happened.

Patrick reached into his pocket and enthusiastically slapped down a $100 peso bill in the tip jar.

We cheered for Patrick and for Santos and for the team. And it felt like we were cheering for all taco lovers in the world. In an instant, the HBR study results came to life. Our positive experience was so good, so uplifting and happy, so personal that Patrick happily gave more than 100% the cost of his food. Paying more for a positive customer experience.

Now, it didn’t stop there. Not only did we give them more money on the spot, we came back twice in the next two days. We didn’t explore any other taco joints — we didn’t need to. We found the mother lode. We wanted El Fogón. Their tacos. Their experience. And we wanted to see our good friend Santos. And because of the consistently positive experience, they won us over. We couldn’t stay away, and consequently gave them nearly all of our travel budget. Spending all our money on tacos, just as it should be. And since then, I’ve told countless people visiting the Riviera Maya that El Fogón is a must-stop.

This is a simple lesson in positive customer and brand experience taught in the most unlikely of places. But sometimes it takes the basic and unexpected to help us see things in a new light. This idea of humanizing your brand is essential and the successful results undeniable. It’s absolutely indispensable for me and you as we’re building our businesses and lives in our relationship economy.

It’s been proven again and again, through firsthand experiences and countless studies: caring and taking pride in your work pays off in spades. PWC released a study showing that 42% of consumers worldwide would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. A recent Forbes article shared jaw-dropping results from a 2020 mid-pandemic study from CX expert Blake Morgan. A whopping 71% of customers said they will lose trust in a brand forever if they feel businesses are prioritizing profits over people.

71% of customers said they will lose trust in a brand forever if they feel businesses are prioritizing profits over people.

As business leaders, it’s no longer just the right thing to do, but it will be imperative for our survival and success to prioritize the architecting of a caring, humanized experience for our customers (and really everyone we touch). The customer and brand experience we craft and the value we are delivering to real people at every touchpoint is among our most precious commodities. It’s the real investment of trust and authenticity that builds a meaningful, lifelong relationship between us and our customers.

I’ve learned so much about how to create this type of breakthrough brand experience from the conversations (over tacos, of course) that I share with brilliant CEOs in my video series and podcast, Tacoincidence. Recently, Carine Clark told me about her experience as a customer of USAA and how it is an influential example of how the authentically human brand experience they created was literally priceless for her.

After 35 years as a customer, her loyalty runs so deep that she jokes (maybe) that “whenever my husband gets in a car accident and they call me, I tell them, ‘I’ll divorce him. Please don’t throw me out of USAA.’” They have won her over with years of micro interactions of kindness.

That was punctuated when her Colonel father and mother were in a car accident. Carine told me how truly kind and they were thoughtful the agent was over the phone in taking care of every single detail— and even ending the called on a patriotic high note by telling her to thank her father for his military service. “I just love them,” she said, “I don’t even look at the bill. The experience is so superior, I don’t care what it costs.” (Watch Carine share her experience with USAA at minute 7:33 below).

"I just love USAA! I don’t even look at the bill. The experience is so superior, I don't care what it costs."

THAT’S how you get people to pay you 140% more. Create a genuinely human and positive experience that they’ll never forget.

I’d love to have you join the journey to discover the secrets of breakthrough culture and brand experience AND find the best tacos in the world.

Who’s with me on the Search for the Perfect Taco?

Check out my new website for info on leveling-up your culture, brand experience and your taco game. You can also get a complimentary Breakthrough Brand Experience 3-min Assessment Worksheet and check out the video series and podcast “Tacoincidence,” national book and taco tours and speaking/consulting engagements.

Scott Porter

Scott Porter

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