Tag Archives: culture

Customer Engagement at the DPHA

Axor Starck

On Saturday, I finished up a two-day presentation / workshop gig at the DPHA conference, the annual conference for the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association.

Decorative plumbing and hardware includes luxury hardware for bathrooms and kitchens: high-end faucets, shower heads, sinks, bathtubs, lighting, mirrors, tile, etc.

The DPHA is made up of three primary groups:

1) The hardware manufacturers (like Hansgrohe, Rohl, Kohler and others)
2) The independent reps, who sell the manufacturers’ product lines to…
3) The dealers & showrooms, who sell to architects, builders and the end consumer, the homeowners

Everyone from the DPHA was extremely nice and generous.

Everyone from the Broadmoor, the beautiful, luxury resort where the conference was held was amazing.

Just one example of the Broadmoor’s outstanding service:
My good friend Al Pittampalli was also speaking. Al is a nutrition expert and he is testing a unique new diet to control the pH of his bloodstream. As a result, he needed lots of avocados and lemon. The Broadmoor concierge brought up 12 perfectly ripe avocados within minutes of Al calling. I can’t usually find 12 perfectly ripe avocados at Fairway Market or Whole Foods.

My presentation outlined how customer engagement is the new marketing and covered the three components that make up customer engagement:

Company Culture
Having spent two days last week inside Zappos, I confidently said that customer engagement is only as good as the company culture behind it. Every employee must be respected, empowered and inspired to make each customer interaction a delight.

Customer Experience
Stores like Stew Leonard’s, IKEA and Apple provide unique and remarkable customer experiences. In preparation for the conference, I had toured a few high end showrooms. While they were very clean and professional, they weren’t extremely remarkable. During my presentation, I proposed some promotions that could increase the ‘story’ factor for the showrooms:

“Halloween Light Night” promotion
Stay open two hours later than usual. Hire a local author to read ghost stories to the kids while you take customers on a tour of the lighting section of your showroom with all of the other store lights off, creating a dark, Halloween atmosphere but showing off your best product in the conditions they would actually be used in.

“Come Shower With Us” promotion
Sounds like something dreamed up by Hugh Hefner, right? That’s exactly why people would talk about it. Setup portable locker rooms and let customers pick out which shower heads they want to test. This would also give showrooms an opportunity to demo new product lines of high-end soaps and bathrobes that many are exploring.

At the very least, it would be a story that spreads and as we know, stories that spread, win.

Carpe Defect
As I explained in an older post, Carpe Defect (Seize the Defect) is a term I came up with for taking a bad customer experience and making a customer for life. This blog and many books focus on providing amazing customer service, but we’re all human and mistakes happen. Customers generally understand that and don’t expect perfection, but it is in HOW companies deal with those errors that determine which story gets told.

A big mistake isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is an opportunity to make a customer for life. Instead of just making the customer whole and fixing the problem, you need to go over and above so that the customer has a positive story to tell.

Social Media
As instructed by the DPHA executive committee, I only briefly touched on social media near the end but attendees seemed very interested. Many had open ears and open minds and wanted to better understand how social media and customer engagement can help their industry in what is currently a difficult market for luxury goods.

I would like to thank the DPHA for having me and thank the Broadmoor for outstanding customer service.

Most of all, I would like to thank those attendees who asked questions about how to improve their corporate culture, their customer experience and Carpe Defect. You can’t control the luxury spending trends but you can control how you make the customer feel.

[NB: As requested, I will be posting my slides from the presentation on SlideShare soon.]

Book Drips – I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss

dog-book-sm

What make companies like Zappos, The Container Store, Harley Davidson, Netflix, Rackspace, Umpqua Bank, LUSH, Threadless, USAA, Trader Joe’s, Apple, CD Baby, Southwest Airlines and many more so beloved by their passionate fans?

Jeanne Bliss’s new book explains exactly how.

In her new book, “I Love You More Than My Dog“, Jeanne reveals the five key decisions that beloved companies make to drive customer loyalty. The book isn’t even out until Thursday (you can download the first chapter and pre-order here) but in a moment, I will tell you how to get a copy FREE.

Jeanne devotes a chapter to each of the five decisions that companies make to become beloved by customers. She ends each chapter with an excellent summary of the necessary decision and challenges companies to analyze themselves on that axis, hitting on the questions below.

    1. Decide to BELIEVE.

    Do you believe:
    – In the good judgment of the people you hire?
    – That trust is reciprocated by customers?
    – In the truth of your customers’ words?
    – That trusted and prepared employees grow the business?
    – In more trust than rules? In more training than policies?
    – How would your customers describe your trust in them?
    – Would your employees say you honor them?

    2. Decide with CLARITY.

    Do you have clarity about:
    – The memories you want to deliver?
    – The type of people who belong in your company?
    – How to steer decision making?
    – The experience you are all working toward?
    – Are your decisions directed toward executing tasks or achieving a purpose?

    3. Decide to BE REAL.

    Do you:
    – Touch a cord with customers?
    – Encourage personality and creativity of employees?
    – Communicate personally, without the corporate veneer?
    – Make decisions by envisioning customers in their lives?
    – How would customers describe who you are as people?
    – How do employees describe your company personality?

    4. Decide to BE THERE.

    Are you there for your customers?
    – Do your customers’ lives inform and inspire the behavior, the actions, and the operation of your business?
    – Is your operating plan based on your priorities or customer priorities?
    – Can customers easily tell the story of the experience you deliver?

    5. Decide to SAY SORRY.

    When you apologize:
    – Are you genuine?
    – Do you restore confidence in being associated with you?
    – Do you honor those impacted and resolve their problem?
    – Do you deliver your apology swiftly and with humility?

I love examples, so I love that Jeanne fills each chapter with very specific, concise examples in one-page vignettes of how each company chose to decide using a consistent format that explains each company’s

    1. Decision Intent
    2. Motivation and
    3. Impact.

If you have customers, you need to read this book.

If you are a customer, Jeanne is your advocate.

Read more about Jeanne and watch videos of her on her website, CustomerBliss.com.

Jeanne was kind enough to give me three copies of her new book to give away. To get a chance at one, you must take the following two actions:

[full disclosure: I borrowed / stole this “comment + tweet” idea from my friend Michael Hyatt. If you don’t already read his blog, I highly recommend it.]

1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you want this book. Be creative.

2. Tweet a link to this post. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.

On Thursday, October 15th, I will select three winners, whom I will email directly. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do you want a copy of this book?

Fried Green Insight

Jason Fried_compressed

Full disclosure…

I’m a huge fan of the team over at 37 Signals. They bleed simple brilliance. David Heinemeier Hansson gave one of my favorite talks ever at Startup School 08 and in May, Jason Fried delivered another gem at Big Omaha 2009.

Everyone should make time to watch Jason’s video, but if you can’t carve out 20 minutes my summary is below.

Jason Fried @ Big Omaha 2009 from Big Omaha on Vimeo.

Failure is not cool
The phrase “fail early, fail often” is overused. Failure is actually not necessary. Failure is not a character-building thing and it’s not a prerequisite to success. Focus on the things that are going right and parlay that.

Planning is overrated.
Business plans are just guesses. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. What matters is what you’re doing right now. You know more about something after you’re done with it.

Interruption is the enemy of collaboration.
A big open loft space does not necessarily mean more collaboration and higher productivity. With so many interruptions, workdays become work moments.

Try this in your company or department. Every Thursday, nobody can talk to each other. Email and IM and other tools are fine but no talking. See if it’s the most productive day that week. Or that month.

You create valuable byproducts.
When you make something, you make something else. We are all making byproducts.

When building houses, the sawdust created from all the lumber was initially thought of as waste. Then, people found multiple useful applications for it and it ended up being a valuable byproduct, sold for money.

When 37 Signals built Basecamp, the byproduct was Ruby on Rails and they didn’t even know it at the time.

Sometimes the valuable byproduct is knowledge.

Share like a chef.
Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay. They share what they do on TV. They tell you exactly what ingredients they use and show you step-by-step how to do what they do. If you want to do it at home, you can buy their cookbook for a fraction of the cost of a single meal.

This doesn’t make them less money, it makes them more. More people know about them. More people buy the cookbooks. More people eat at the restaurants.

Traditional business thinking would shut down this blatant sharing of intellectual capital.

The best thing you can do is share your knowledge.

What is your cookbook? Publish it. It helps you…

Build an audience.
Every company has customers. Great companies have fans. At the least, you need an audience.

90,000 people read the 37 Signals blog everyday. It takes time to build but it doesn’t cost them a penny to reach this large captive audience.

Focus on the things that don’t change.
What are the core, important things in your business that don’t change?

Amazon invests in distribution. Shipping. Customer service. Price. These things will be important to their business in 10 years.

37 Signals makes web-based software. They focus on making it fast, easy and usable. It may not be sexy but that is what will be important to their business in 10 years.

Ideas are immortal. Inspiration is perishable.
We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal.

Inspirations however, are like fresh fruit or milk. They are very perishable. If you’re lucky enough to be inspired, do it. Do it now. The most energy you’ll ever have about an idea is at the beginning. You can’t sustain it.

Thanks to Jason and the whole crew over at 37 Signals. Keep leading, guys.

If you could transform your company…

 

…would you?

Everything has changed.

Customer engagement is the new marketing.

A thousand die hard, connected fans are far more important than a million dollar advertising budget.

The culture of your company now drives the bottom line instead of the other way around.

If you aren’t familiar with Zappos, they are a customer service company that happens to sell shoes, clothes and accessories. They have built an entire company around their unique culture, specifically their 10 core values.

Zappos Core Values

Zappos publishes an annual Zappos Culture Book that is insightful as it is entertaining.

Sure, you say. Culture is great, but what about revenue and profit? It’s always “show me the money.”

How about this…

In less than ten years, Zappos has gone from the glimmer in the eye of a frustrated shoe customer in a mall to over 1 billion dollars in gross revenue, doing something that many said couldn’t be done, selling shoes (and now much more) online.

Back on May 8th, I posted that magic must be baked-in, highlighting companies like Zappos, Southwest and Disney and how their culture was omnipresent from Day 1.

I’m not going back on that statement, but I will amend it slightly. Zappos Insights is offering two day “immersion” event two-day workshop that will allow you to dramatically strengthen your company’s culture.

Please understand the magnitude of this opportunity. This is like getting basketball lessons from Michael Jordan or hours of private cello lessons from Yo-Yo Ma.

The cost is miniscule. For $4995, you get to spend two days at Zappos world HQ in Las Vegas learning directly from the leaders of a company that has redefined both customer service and company culture (and an airport shuttle, accommodations, meals and entertainment).

What’s the last thing your company spent $5000 on?

Did it have the capability to transform your entire business?

Please take advantage of this amazing opportunity. You can find more information here.

It’s not about the bracket.

The killjoys over at at Challenger, Gray and Christmas waste a bunch of money running an annual study of (ironically) the money and productivity lost by people checking out the NCAA tournament while at work. CGC calculates it to be as much as $1.7 billion in wasted work time over the 16 business days of the tournament.

I don’t buy it.

It’s not about the bracket. It’s not about the entry fee or the prize money.

It’s about the incremental camaraderie.

watercooler

It’s about the shift of power when the mousy receptionist taunting the big shot sales guy about her team upsetting his.

It’s about the invisible IT guy gaining respect by hacking together a system for the office to enter their pools ‘online’ (in 1998).

It’s about the female CFO finding out that the janitor majored in finance at Syracuse, a year ahead of her.

It’s about the new connections and conversations that occur every March.

Challenger, Gray and Christmas can’t put a dollar value on that.