Beloved companies earn the right to their customers’ devotion by making five critical decisions that drive devoted customers and business growth.
1. They decide to BELIEVE. They believe their customers and they believe their employees. The suspend their cynicism and decide on purpose to trust their customers and employees.
For example: Beloved company Griffin Hospital wanted no secrets between themselves and their customers. The traditional approach of medical professionals delivering only select information was taking the power out of the hands of the patient and putting it into the hands of medical professionals. Griffin wanted to balance this lopsided relationship so they decided to make medical records available to patients and their families. Trusting patients with their own records increased patient belief in Griffin Hospital, and contributed to its growth.
2. They decide with CLARITY of purpose. In decision making they align to a clear purpose, to a clear promise, on how they will improve their customers’ lives.
For example: most guarantees put the monkey on the customer’s back to manage a countdown clock on product happiness. That’s because most guarantees have a limit on the amount of time customers have to return a product after its purchase, forcing a transaction-based relationship with customers. Beloved company Zane’s, who sells $13 million in bicycles and supplies from a single store, decided to instead guarantee the happiness of the customer relationship — throwing out the clock. The Zane’s guarantee says “We are going to live up to our promises, no matter what the timing, no matter what the product or service.”
3. They decide to BE REAL, by dropping the corporate veneer and by connecting in a personal way. They encourage their people to bring the best version of themselves to work.
For Example: Beloved company Trader Joe’s wants to be your neighborhood store—a place where people feel welcomed and want to have a personal relationship. That’s why they resisted the decision to install scanners as part of its checkout process for years. Why? Usually a “pinging” noise sounds as each item is scanned and they didn’t want that noise to interrupt the conversations at check-out. They didn’t want technology to limit personal connections. Even though their growing inventory mix eventually pushed them to concede to the technology, it wasn’t until they were absolutely sure the sound of the “ping” from the scanner wouldn’t interrupt the flow of conversation between cashier and customer.
4. They decide to BE THERE, basing their entire operation on customers input when they develop and deliver their products and services.
For example: beloved retailer Zara wants to get a product from idea to market in less than three weeks. This efficient process for bringing in new product is compelling for customers who constantly visit Zara stores. “Fast Fashion” is Zara’s pull: it means having and agility for listening to and responding to customer requests in the marketplace. An item requested by enough customers can be in its stores to accommodate that request within ten days.
5. They decide to SAY SORRY. When things go wrong, they are humble, contrite and they right the wrong.
For example: Netflix, the DVD-by-mail service with 10 million subscribers, experienced a severe technology glitch a few years ago that delayed shipping. Netflix confessed immediately and honestly on their Web site. They followed up with e-mails to make sure all customers heard the news – even to those who hadn’t even noticed the delay. Not only did they fess up, they extended an olive branch by applying a credit to customers on their next billing. New members got their free trials extended.
Do these decisions guide your business decision making on a daily basis? The proof is in the love notes they send: you can earn your customers’ business and become a beloved company by deciding how you will run yours.
Feeling Bullish? Check out these books: