What Metallica Can Teach Us About Customer Experience

Lessons on Customer Experience are all around us, if we just look for them. All of us, after all, are customers first. Metallica, the metal band that has been around since the 1980s, could teach us all something about Customer Experience.

My wife and I and some friends recently attended a Metallica concert on their World Wired Tour. It was the first time many of us had seen them since the late 80s or early 90s. We are all decades out of high school and, the guys anyway, were pretty sure we still knew all of the words, and could play air guitar just as good as we always have. 

The moment we got to our seats I noticed the stage wasn’t set up like most concerts I’ve attended. Most musical acts set up with the stage all the way at one end of the arena. Not Metallica. They put their stage right in the center of the floor. Lars Ulrich, the drummer, and his drum set were in the center of the stage.

Give Everybody Your Attention

Their stage is square with pop outs at each corner. That meant there were 8 stage fronts! No matter where you were in the arena, there were times when the band was playing in your direction. And they didn’t do this at every song, the three other band members moved around the stage at nearly every verse of every song and the drummer changed direction throughout the show. Having a 360 degree stage allowed for more people to experience being near, or at least facing, the stage. What if all companies did more to include more of their customers? Metallica changed the physical surroundings and, with a little extra work (remember, the band members kept moving around the stage several times per song) they were able to deliver a better experience to more people. At one point during the show (during "The Unforgiven”) I went to the other side of the arena to see what it was like. If the stage had been set up in the usual spot, the other side of the arena would have been a terrible place to watch the concert. But, it wasn’t. 

Give Them Something Unique

My wife and I attend a fair amount of concerts, and this was the first time we’ve ever been to one that offered a live album of the actual concert we attended! Now is when I must admit that I actually write down the set list of every concert I attend. There’s just something about going back and listening to the songs in the order of the concert. And ever since I bought my first live album (Scorpions, World Wide Live) I’ve always wished I could have a recording of concerts I’ve attended. Metallica made that happen! And it was a great surprise. I hadn’t heard anything about them offering that before the show. Before the show, the large screens and the emcee promoted the feature. All I had to do was go to livemetallica.com and scan my ticket to get a digital download of that night’s show! What an awesome way to relive the night! In today’s market, companies are trying harder and harder to capture the attention of current and prospective customers. This has had me thinking a lot about how companies can surprise customers with more. Not just more products or services, but little surprises. From hand-written thank you notes, to donations to a customer’s favorite charity, to little gifts snuck into customer’s orders. How else can we put a smile on a customers face, even long after they’ve used the product or service?

Help Them Quickly When They Need It

The website to get the free digital download was simple enough. Just scan the ticket and the files would be downloaded. Except neither of my tickets worked. It was a Sunday morning and I was really hoping to listen to the album that day. I noticed a Help option on the website and sent them a quick message with my ticket barcode number. I was pleasantly surprised that a couple of hours later I received a response that read, “I am so sorry you experienced a problem. Here’s a new code. Enjoy”. I put that code in the site and was banging my head within minutes!

Let that sink in for a minute. Metallica Customer Support is open on Sunday and responds pretty quickly. I’m not sure what the typical SLA for a metal band is, but I can think of many companies that take days to respond (If they ever respond at all). And yes, I know that it wasn’t actually Metallica that worked my ticket, but I like to imagine that James, Lars, Kirk, and Rob are somewhere working these customer support requests. Come on world, we should strive to treat our customers as well as Metallica!

Metallica, Live at the Golden1 Center in Sacramento, California - 12/7/18

Metallica, Live at the Golden1 Center in Sacramento, California - 12/7/18