Consumers now more than ever are carefully considering how they spend every dollar. At the same time, social media that gives buyers a public forum for their thoughts and experiences is enjoying a meteoric rise. Together, they’ve created a completely new business culture, one where businesses need not just loyal buyers, but passionate fans. These fans talk to their friends, urge their neighbors to become customers, post on Twitter and fawn on Facebook. They can fuel explosive growth.
No one knows that better than Jeanne Bliss, who has served as the senior customer executive at five major corporations. She says beloved companies share a set of five active and purposeful decisions that inform and motive their conduct. When followed, these decisions take companies on a journey that creates a seismic shift from mere business to beloved company. They are:
• Decide to believe. Beloved companies suspend cynicism by choosing to believe their employees and believe their customers. They are freed from extra rules, polices and layers of bureaucracy that create a barrier between them and their customers.
• Decide with clarity of purpose. Beloved companies take the time to be clear about their unique promise for their customer’s lives. They make decisions to align to this purpose and this promise. This guides choices and unites the organization. It elevates people from just doing tasks to delivering experiences that customers will want to repeat and relate to others.
• Decide to be real. Beloved companies break down barriers between customer and company, creating a relationship between people and revel in one another’s foibles, quirks and spirit. It draws them to other another. They create a safe place where personality and creativity shows and are believed by customers who are attracted to their personality.
• Decide to be there. Beloved companies devote more resources and they earn the right to a continued relationship with their customers. The first decision they make is to be there when the customer needs them, on the customer’s terms.
• Decide to say sorry. Grace and wisdom guide beloved companies to accept accountability when the chips are down, when things don’t go the way they planned. How a company reacts to mistakes reflects the humanity of the organization.
“The common denominator,” says Bliss, “is that they never lose sight of the people who have impacted them. They remember that customers admire them not for how they were treated, but how they were handled. They make decisions that create a lasting bond.”
The bad news, says Bliss, is that there’s no shortcut. The world’s biggest marketing budget can’t make people love you. But the good news is that a company can become beloved if you commit to the five essential decisions about how to run your business. These five decisions will inspire customers to begin to tell your story for you, forming an army of cheerleaders who in essence do your promoting for you.
Jeanne Bliss runs CustomerBliss, an international consulting business where she coaches executive leadership teams and customer leadership executives on how to put customer profitability at the center of their business. She has two best-selling books—Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad.