5 Customer Experience Lessons You Can Learn From The Eras Tour

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour has taken the country world by complete storm: her ticket release caused a major crash for Ticketmaster (and later, a congressional hearing); Glendale and Pittsburgh renamed their cities to Swift City and Swiftsburgh during their respective tour stops; nurses at Nashville’s Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital dressed the NICU babies in different Eras costumes; the six-night residency in Los Angeles increased the area employment by 3,300; and Seattle’s crowd caused the geological equivalent of a 2.3-magnitude earthquake.

But beyond the spectacle of the show-stopping performances, the unique celebrations, and the staggering economic impact, the Eras Tour is a testament to Taylor’s fan-centric philosophy and serves as a masterclass in customer experience. In this article, I’m going to break down the customer experience lessons you can learn from the Eras Tour that will help you get the loyal audience of your wildest dreams. So, are you ready for it?

1. Personalize Your interactions whenever possible

Personalization can help you create a more meaningful experience for your customer because you’re showing them that they are important enough to merit individualized attention.

According to McKinsey & Company, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. Personalization will only continue to grow in importance in every sector and across every interaction customers have with brands. 

Taylor Swift is a mastermind at personalization (you can read about my first interaction with her in a previous newsletter!), so it was no surprise that she crafted a special experience for each of her 50+ shows across 20 stadiums in the U.S.

With such a deep catalog of hits, she plays two unique songs at each performance (in addition to the 44 songs on her setlist!). Not only is it exciting for attendees to find out which surprise songs they get to hear, but it also gives fans across the globe a reason to tune in to each live stream and follow along the clues of when she’ll play certain hits. 

Fans accurately predicted that she’d perform “High Infidelity” on April 29th, “The Best Day” on Mother’s Day, and “Last Kiss” on July 9th. She even kicked off the tour by singing “Tim McGraw,” the first song off her debut album, and closed it with “New Year’s Day,” the last song she recorded before gaining control of her masters. By incorporating surprise songs at every show, Taylor has been able to create a unique and memorable experience for each crowd. 

Moreover, after each city, Taylor makes an instagram post recapping the weekend’s performances. An exceptional songwriter, Taylor makes her followers feel like she’s speaking directly to them with phrases such as, “Um. SO much to tell you.” Fans eagerly await to see what she’ll write for their city, as she always has a way of making each post feel personal. For instance, after Philly, she mentioned that she used to watch the Eagles on TV at the same stadium she headlined, and in her Detroit post, she reminisced on her performance of the National Anthem at Ford Field in 2006. 

Many brands and entrepreneurs fail to capitalize on the after part of their customer journey. Once a transaction has finished, are you staying in touch with your customers, or do they only hear from you when it’s time to ask for more money? One repeatable, memorable action that triggers an experience for your customer at the end of every transaction can mean the difference between a one-time customer and a lifelong superfan.

Does Taylor need to post pictures in the same outfits in front of the same sets for each city? Of course not. But she recognizes the power of personalization and understands how to make each attendee feel seen and valued.

2. Know when to override company policies

One of the most infuriating sentences to hear from a customer service associate is “That’s our company policy, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” 

Last summer, I went to Walmart to buy a fish bowl that was listed for $10.56 on the Walmart app. I decided to go in and buy it instead of ordering for delivery or pick-up. After all, I needed a home for my son’s fish ASAP. (Those unplanned county fair pets, am I right?)

The app told me exactly which aisle it was in at my store. However, when I got to the shelf, I noticed it was listed at $18.56. I asked an employee to match the in-app price. When she said she couldn’t, I explained, “If I order this in the app, not only will you sell it to me for $10.56, but an employee from this store will drive it to my house for free! The pricing on the website isn’t from a third-party vendor. I don’t understand why you can’t match it?”

She said she couldn’t. So I said, “Okay, can I pay for this in the app and take it with me now, instead of scheduling time to pick it up tomorrow?” 

“Nope,” she said, before I even finished asking the question. For good measure, she added: “Them’s the rules. I don’t make ‘em.” (Read more about that infuriating experience here).

Employees should be empowered to exercise judgment and deviate from company policy when the rules blatantly go against common sense. 

Taylor Swift understands this principle all too well. 

In Philadelphia, a young woman was enjoying the concert near the stage’s barricades when security threatened to kick her out. On cue with “Bad Blood,” Taylor yelled “Hey!” at security and told him “she wasn’t doing anything!”

The fan, who later revealed herself on TikTok as Kelly, confirmed that security was being “extremely aggressive for no reason.” Yes, it may have been against the rules to touch the barricades. But Kelly claims she and her friends weren’t throwing anything or screaming, they were just dancing. Kelly appreciated that Taylor came to her defense and advocated for her. She said, “I think it meant so much to everybody else, so her fans know that, like, she has our back.”

When you’re able to bend the rules (within reason) to benefit the customers, they’ll be much more likely to stay, stay, stay.

3. Create WOW moments for your customers

Every component of your experience is an extension of your story. For every touchpoint, ask yourself, “Is there something I can do to elevate this interaction to a memorable experience?” It doesn’t have to be complicated, or even cost a lot of money. 

Have you ever eaten at a Moe’s Southwest Grill? As soon as you walk through the doors, employees shout, “Welcome to Moe’s!” Employees greet you with energy and enthusiasm even before you have a chance to see wall décor bearing messages like “Hear me out: Queso lazy river.” No detail is too small to build an experience on.  

Paying attention to every detail is nothing new to Taylor Swift. She brilliantly maximizes all of the touchpoints on her tour. For example, each fan receives a light-up bracelet when they scan their ticket and enter the stadium. But these aren’t just ordinary bracelets . They’re LED bracelets that are synced to the music and collectively display massive designs with all of the concertgoers. Taylor further infuses her story by coordinating heart shapes for “Lover” and snakes during the Reputation era, among many others.

A Heart display experience with the LED bracelets at Taylor Swift's Eras Tour.

Furthermore, Taylor masterfully illustrates each Era through thoughtful production choices. She wears nostalgic outfits, repeats iconic dance moves, and interacts with intricate set designs. Each backdrop is a work of art and perfectly encapsulates the album and transports fans back to the respective era. Even the Speak Now section, which only had one song on the set list, had its own special set. 

The amazing set for the Folklore era.

The amazing set design for the Folklore Era in Taylor Swift's Eras Tour

Clearly, Taylor cares about creating the best possible experience for her fans. 🫶

4. ALWAYS make it right with the customer

Customer centricity isn’t only important when things are going right. It’s about repairing the relationship when things go wrong, too, and ensuring that a customer feels valued and heard. In fact, customers don’t expect you to be perfect all the time. They expect you to try your best and to fix things when they go wrong.

With over 50 shows in 20 cities and only a few days of rest between consecutive performances, mistakes are inevitable. At one of her Atlanta shows, Taylor jumbled the lyrics to the surprise song, “Gorgeous.” She explained that the “no repeat rule” could be voided if she wasn’t completely satisfied with the performance. Taylor insists on doing things the right way, every single time. Great customer experience means the customer is at the center of everything you do.

At her third performance in Nashville, heavy thunder and lightning storms delayed the outdoor show by 2+ hours. Attendees were forced to take shelter in the concourse and wait indefinitely for an update. When the weather finally subsided, Taylor immediately kicked off her entire 3+ hour set in the pouring rain. She likely incurred a fine for the after-hour affair, but she had to make it right for her fans.

Swift even took the opportunity to make the crowd feel special. She told them, “This is something we’re all doing together. It’s like such a bonding experience. We’re all gonna leave here tonight looking like we just went through five car washes… People will be like, ‘Where were you? Several wars?’ And you’re like, ‘No, I just went to the Eras Tour. It’s fine.’” Most people like to be inspired, and many like to think we’re all part of some bigger plan. When you can tap into that universal emotion, you will create superfans. This is one of the most advanced customer experience lessons I write about in my book, and Taylor consistently nails it.

In Creating Superfans, I write about the five A’s of apologizing. The fifth pillar of my system is to Adjust whatever process led to the problem in the first place. While Taylor can’t control the weather, she learned from her Nashville experience and devised a solution for future stormy nights. Two months later, a possibility of severe weather threatened to strike Cincinnati toward the end of her set. In an effort to avoid any issues, she decided to start the show a full hour early. Meanwhile, on the same night in Indiana, country singer Carly Pearce faced the same weather concerns. Unlike Taylor, Carly declined the city’s suggestion to start earlier and canceled the show altogether.

5. Treat superfandom as a two-way street

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Superfandom is a two-way street. If you only remember one of these customer experience lessons from the Eras Tour, I hope it’s this final one. If you want your customers to love you, you’ve got to love them back. Period. When you show your customers that you care about them as individuals, they’ll take notice.. And they’ll likely even return the favor.

Taylor is THE BEST at showing appreciation for her fans and acknowledging their role in her success. After all, it’s the fans who are streaming music, filling out arenas, and buying merchandise. And the same is true for your brand: your customers (and employees!) are the reason you exist.

Last fall, a TikTok user went viral for a dance he choreographed to “Bejeweled.” Swifties were ecstatic to see Taylor incorporate the same moves into her actual routine on tour. A simple nod to the TikTok trend made her fans feel appreciated and included in her success. 

In 2018, an eight-year-old fan was forced to miss the Reputation Tour after becoming severely  injured in an accident. Taylor visited the fan in the hospital and promised her that one day she’d get to see her in concert. Fast forward to 2023, and Swift kept true to her word. She surprised the young fan with four tickets to the Eras tour.

Clearly, Taylor treats her fans like royalty, and her army of #Swifties love her back. When she plays “Marjorie” in the Eras set – a song that honors her late grandmother – fans show their support. Concertgoers started the tradition of lighting up the flashlights on their cell phones as a display of support during a vulnerable song.  After the performance, Taylor always thanks her fans for their encouragement.

Fans moved Taylor to tears when they surprised her with another coordinated flashlight display during “Champagne Problems” in Atlanta. She reacted, “I don’t even know what to say. I love you so much. That was beautiful… Who organized that? Did you guys just do that? What was the plan? That was so beautiful. Thank you. God, I love you. .”

In Los Angeles, after an eight-minute(!!) standing ovation, Taylor brilliantly connected to her audience. She said, “I think it’s safe to say that I, like all people, will experience a certain amount of emotional downward spirals throughout the course of the rest of my life and in those moments, you can rest assured I’m gonna think about what you just did.”

Next time someone wonders why #Swifties are “so crazy,” you can tell them it’s because Taylor showed the same level of passion and gratitude toward her fans first. Say it with me: 

Superfandom 👏🏻 is 👏🏻 a 👏🏻 two 👏🏻way 👏🏻street. 👏🏻

Taylor Swift has not only captivated the world with her jaw-dropping performances and marketing savvy, but also with her invaluable lessons in customer centricity and engagement. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of customer expectations, the Eras Tour stands as a living blueprint for creating an exceptional customer experience. If you want your customers to stay with you forever & always, take a page from Taylor Swift’s playbook and you too can create a fervent army of superfans.

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