Customer Experience, But Make It All About Cicadas


If you’re reading this in the Midwest or southern United States, I bet I can sum up your Memorial Day Weekend in one word: Cicadas.

They’re everywhere. Literally trillions of them. This weekend, they invaded pool parties, barbeques, and car races. Here in Franklin, TN they served as a really great barometer for measuring hail

I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that very few people looked at cicadas this weekend and thought, “What customer experience lessons could I learn from you, humble insect?” But I did (yeah, I know, I’m a geek) and now I’m sharing the lessons with YOU! 

Trust me, they’re good. And, while the cicadas will be gone in a few weeks, these perennial lessons will keep winning you customers long after the (deafening) buzz dies down. 

Lesson #1: Consistency and Predictability

Periodic cicadas have a very predictable lifecycle, emerging every 13 or 17 years. We know they’re coming… like clockwork! In fact, scientists predict it decades or centuries in advance. Ya gotta admit… the consistency is admirable!

Your takeaway

Customers value knowing what to expect from a brand or partner. There’s nothing more annoying than an unpredictable experience. If a customer loves you once and gets “meh” vibes the second time, you may not get a third chance. Consistency is key! Establish clear standards and maintain consistency (documented SOPs for all employees help!) in service and experience to build trust. Elizabeth Arden once said, “Repetition makes reputation, and reputation makes customers.”

Lesson #2: Creating a Memorable Impact

When broods of periodic cicadas emerge, they make a significant and memorable impact, thanks in part to their loud mating calls. Male cicadas frequently reach a level of 120db — that’s as loud as a rock concert and, as many of us have witnessed firsthand, loud enough to trigger a decibel warning on smart watches. 🙉

Despite their infrequent appearances, they leave a lasting impression. I bet you even know someone who has ordered this shirt because the impact of this “cicada season” has been so memorable.

Your takeaway

Focus on creating memorable customer experiences that leave a positive and lasting impression. Even if you’re in an industry like real estate or wedding planning where your customers may not have the opportunity to return to you for years (or ever, hopefully!), you can still create the type of experience that they will remember. Be intentional about architecting impactful moments into your customers’ experiences, so they’ll want to tell their friends and colleagues about it. 

Lesson #3: Resilience and Adaptation

Did you know there are more than 3,000 species of cicadas? It’s true. They live on every continent except Antarctica. Cicadas have adapted to survive underground for long periods of time and then thrive above ground. It’s a unique approach, even among the insect world. Their lifecycle is a testament to their resilience and adaptability. 

Your takeaway

Innovate before you have to, and don’t be afraid to try an unorthodox approach to improve your business. Pay attention to the market conditions and the evolving expectations of your customers so you can proactively address challenges and ensure sustained growth.

Lesson #4: Building Anticipation 

The long wait for cicadas’ emergence builds anticipation and excitement among people. And — let’s be honest — fear, anxiety, and a general sense of ick among others. But even the best products and services aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay! 

Your takeaway

Creating anticipation for new product launches, updates, and special promotions can significantly boost customer engagement and enthusiasm. By building hype and excitement through teasers, sneak peeks, and countdowns, you keep your audience eagerly looking forward to what’s next. These tactics not only enhance customer interest and participation, but can also foster a sense of community and loyalty around your brand.

Lesson #5: Community Engagement

Whether we like it or not, the emergence of the cicadas is a community event. It’s a shared experience by everyone in the region reminding us that we’re all in this together. As a social species, we enjoy feeling like we’re a part of something. There’s a certain comfort in feeling that we belong — or, when things are rough, there’s a comfort in knowing that we’re not alone.

Your takeaway

One of the quickest ways to get people to talk about your business is by making them feel something. Otherwise, it’s just a transaction. One great way to get customers to feel is by creating opportunities for them to engage with friends. 

Whether it’s with an IRL community event (shout out to my local Chick-Fil-A for the best Monday Night Family Nights!) or social media interactions, make your business relevant to where your customers’ lives are happening. There’s a good chance you’ll enhance their experience and likely generate some word-of-mouth referrals (read: new customers) while you’re at it.

Something I say often is that superfans are created at the intersection of your story and every customer’s story. You’ve got to make your thing relevant to their life. Apathy dies when you can make someone think or laugh or smile or feel some other kind of connection with you. 

People sometimes ask me, “How do I do that?” This entire email was crafted as a (very literal) example. I drew a connection between cicadas (something many people are experiencing right now) to customer experience (my favorite topic). 

Now, it’s your turn! What’s something your customers are thinking/feeling/experiencing right now? How do you make YOUR THING relevant to that? Need a cheat code? Try asking ChatGPT. It gave me some ideas for this email and will very likely help you, too.

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