On LinkedIn, Don Peppers is sharing his perspective on making better decisions with data. This got me thinking and I want to share with you what showed up for me. Why listen to my speaking? I do have a scientific background (BSc Applied Physics). I qualified as a chartered accountant and was involved in producing all kinds of reports for managers and saw what they did or did not do with them. More recently, I was the head of a data mining and predictive analytics practice. Let’s start.
Data and data driven decision-making tools are not enough
Yes, there is a data deluge, and this deluge is becoming down faster and faster. Big enough and fast enough to be given the catchy name Big Data. What is forgotten is the effort that it takes to get this data fit for the purpose of modelling. This is no easy-cheap task. Yet, it can be done if you throw enough resources at it.
Yes, there are all kinds of tools for finding patterns in this data. And in the hands of the right people (statistically trained-minded, business savvy) these tools can be used to turn data into valuable (actionable) insight. This is not as easy as it sounds. Why? Because there is shortage of these statistically trained and minded people: amateurs will not do, experts are necessary to distinguish between gold and fools gold – given enough data you can find just about any pattern. It statistical savvy is not enough you have to couple it with business savvy. Nonetheless, let’s assume that we can overcome this constraint.
The real challenge in generating data driven decision-making in businesses is the cultural practices. We do not have the cultural practices that create the space for data driven decision-making to show up and flourish. A thinker much smarter-wiser than me has already shared his wisdom, I invite you to listen:
On the whole, scientific methods are at least as important as any other research: for it is upon the insight into the method that the scientific spirit depends: and if these methods are lost, then all the results of science could not prevent a renewed triumph of superstition and nonsense.
Clever people may learn as much as they wish of the results of science – still one will always notice in their conversation, and especially in their hypotheses, that they lack the scientific spirit; they do not have the distinctive mistrust of the aberrations of thought which through long training are deeply rooted in the soul of every scientific person. They are content to find any hypothesis at all concerning some matter; then they are all fire and for it and think that is enough …….. If something is unexplained, the grow hot over the first notion that comes into their heads and looks like an explanation ….
- Nietzsche (Human, All Too Human)
It occurs to me that the scientific method never took route in organisational life. Put aside the rationalist ideology and take a good look at what goes in business including how decisions are made. I say you will find that Nietzsche penetrating insight into the human condition as true today as when he spoke it. The practice of making decisions in every organisation that I have ever come in contact with is not scientific: it does not follow the scientific method. On the contrary, managers make decisions that are in alignment with their intuition, their prejudices, and their self-interest. It is so rare to come across a manager (and organisation) that makes decisions using the scientific method that when this does occur I am stopped in my tracks. It is the same kind of unexpectedness as seeing a female streaker running across the football pitch in a league match.
What are the challenges in putting data driven decision-making practices into place in organisations?
Technologists have a gift. What gift? The gift of not understanding, deeply enough, the being of human beings. Lacking this understanding they can and do (confidently) stand up and preach the virtues-benefits of technology. If life were that simple.
Truth shows up as attractive to those of us who do not have to face the consequences of truth. Data driven decision-making sounds great for those of us selling (making a living and hoping to get rich) data driven tools and services.
The challenge of putting in place data driven decision-making practices is that it disturbs the status quo. When you disturb the status quo you go up against the powerful who benefit from that status quo. Remember Socrates:
The very nature of what Socrates did made him a disruptive and subversive influence. He was teaching people to question everything, and he was exposing the ignorance of individuals in power and authority. He became much loved but also much hated …. In the end the authorities arrested him for …., and not believing in the gods of the city. He was tried and condemned to die …
- Bryan Magee, Professor
Beware of being successful in putting in place a culture of data driven decision making!
With sufficient commitment and investment you can put in place a data driven decision making culture. Like the folks at Tesco did. And by making decisions through harnessing the data on your customers, your stores, your products, you can outdo all of your competitors, grow like crazy and make bumper profits. Again, again, and again. Then the day of reckoning comes – when you come face to face with the flaws of making decisions solely on the basis of data.
Tesco is not doing so great. It has not been doing so great for several years – including issuing its first ever profits alert in 2012. What is the latest situation? Tesco has reported a 23.5% drop in profits in the first half of this year. What has Tesco been doing to deal with the situation? This is what the article says:
Last year, Tesco announced it would be spending £1bn on improving its stores in the UK, investing in shop upgrades, product ranges, more staff, as well as its online offering.
There are a number of flaws on data driven decision making. For one data driven decision making assumes that the future will be a continuation of the past. Which is rather like saying all the swans that we have come across are white, so we should plan for white swans. And then, one day you find that the black swan shows up! The recession and the shift in consumer behaviour that resulted from this recession was the black swan for Tesco.
Furthermore, I hazard a guess that in their adoration at the pulpit of data driven decision making the folks at Tesco forgot the dimensions that matter but were not fed into the data and the predictive models. What dimensions? Like the customer’s experience of shopping at Tesco stores: not enough staff, unhappy staff, stores looking more and more dated by the day, the quality of their products ……
It looks like the folks at Tesco did not heed the sage words of one of my idols:
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
Is Richard Bove on to something?
When an anomaly comes along and/or someone questions that which is taken for granted by a community we can either ignore it or we can dive into it, grapple with it, and see what we can learn. This piece by the New York Times about the poor service Richard X. Bove experienced at a Wells Fargo branch caught my attention. And in particular the following statement
“I’m struck by the fact that the service is so bad, and yet the company is so good,” said Mr. Bove, an analyst with Rochdale Securities. “Whatever it is that drives people to do business with a given bank, in my mind, now has to be rethought.
Lets be clear on this. Richard Bove has come across unhelpful bank tellers, unexplained monthly fees and fumbled mortgage application. On the other hand, as a securities analyst, he observes that the bank is doing well financially. And on that basis he questions the value of banks being good to their customers as opposed to pushing products and managing risk.
I say great, we should keep an open mind and question the taken for granted. Further, I say that there is no simple relationship between customer service/customer focus and financial performance. What mattered yesterday might not matter today or tomorrow. What did not matter might be critical in the future. In any competitive industry, one has to be mindful of competitors and consumer needs/behaviours.
Is it really possible to treat your customers badly and do well financially?
Why might it be possible for a bank to do well financially despite lacking the customer orientation and not delivering good customer service? The simple answer is that customers keep doing business with the bank – they keep accepting poor service from the tellers, accept/don’t notice unexplained monthly charges and put up with fumbled mortgage applications. So the question becomes: why do customers stick with their existing banks and not move to other banks?
It is fashionable to peddle the view that many customers will take their business elsewhere if their existing supplier treats them badly. I am not convinced that this is actually the case for the majority of customers. I say that customer surveys get access to what customers would like to do (switch after a poor experience) as opposed to accessing what customers actually do. Why the difference? We stick with what is convenient and we accept what works well enough. Furthermore, we get used to being lied to, being hit with unexplained charges, difficult to use/irritating IVRs, company staff that are clueless ….. And we learn to cope. For example, we use online banking as opposed to going to the branches.
My experience, UK experience, suggests that many if not most customers are firmly convinced that one bank is pretty much like any other bank. Furthermore, they are convinced that it is a difficult, time consuming, chore to move banks. Lastly, they are convinced that the process will go wrong and then they will have to expend more time trying to get hold of unhelpful banks and companies to fix what is gone wrong. Given this, it is no surprise (to me) that banks have some of the highest ‘customer loyalty’ levels around. I wonder if some of this also applies to the USA.
At this point you are most likely to be thinking that I am in agreement with Richard Bove: that treating customers right simply doesn’t matter and banks should focus on pushing products and managing risk. Not quite. To get a rounded perspective we have to deal with competition and time. Let’s start with competition.
Lets consider the impact of time and competition
Where each player in the industry works to the same theory of business and thus goes about business the same way customers really have no choice. However, when a new entrant comes along and does things differently then the opportunity for disruption occurs. Think Amazon. Hasn’t Amazon fundamentally changed the book buying and reading experience and in doing so attracted and retained hordes of book readers. Has it not thrown the incumbents to the wolves? Think Apple: how many sleepy/cosy industries has Apple disrupted?
So my key point is that as and when a new entrant shows up in the banking industry and offers a superior value proposition centred on honesty, convenience and customer service in the banking industry it will be interesting to see what happens. In the UK I am watching the progress of Metro Bank with interest. Also, it will also be interesting to see if Richard Branson and the Virgin Group do anything interesting given that they are looking to buy branches from the existing banks.
Time matters. The best way for me to make this real is to share the example of Tesco. For ten years or so Tesco did extremely well financially, it was the company to beat in food retailing in the UK. That is no longer the case as this piece shows. What happened? In the UK Tesco failed to invest in the customer experience. Specifically, Tesco failed to invest in the stores and in the people that served customers. Over time the customer experience became poorer and competitors caught up. Then the recession arrived, customers went to competitors, Tesco lost market share, issued a shock profit warning and the value of the company dropped by £5 billion.
Yet, to get that time matters we do not have to go beyond the financial services industry. Look the banks made a fortune over the last 30 years. More and more deregulation delivered more and more revenues and profits. Then the financial services industry as a whole went bust. Yes, bust. Time caught up with financial services industry – it just took 30 years for the consequences to catch up with behaviour. And we, through our governments, have socialised the losses. It is only because the citizens/taxpayers have taken the hit, a big hit, that the banks continue.
Wells Fargo may be doing well today because it is reaping the fruits of yesterday and/or sacrificing the future. Yes, you can always boost short term revenues and profits by milking lazy, confused, gullible and helpless customers. Put differently, the only way we can know if Wells Fargo can get away with poor service by bank tellers, unexplained monthly charges and fumbled mortgage applications is to see how things play out in the next 10 years or so. If you are tempted to take your customers for granted then I urge you to reflect on: what Amazon did to the book publishing/selling industry; what Apple has done to numerous industries including music, mobile phones, computing; and how the mighty like Tesco, Nokia, RIM have fallen.
Note: This is my first and last post for August. I am taking time out and intend/expect to be back in September. For my part, I wish you well and thank you for taking the time to read what I write and share your views.
Tesco continues to do ‘badly’ in the UK
The other day I was reading the business press and the following piece on the poster child loyalty schemes/analytical CRM/data driven business management caught my eyes: Tesco UK sales fall for more than a year.
If you don’t know then let me remind you that for many years the loyalty/CRM folks were holding up Tesco as the shining example of how to run a business intelligently/smartly and out compete your competitors by harnessing data and using this insight to drive/run the business. And about a year ago the wheels came of the bus.
What got Tesco here?
Looking at it from the customer perspective, I say that the difficult economic environment forced customers to take a closer look at Tesco. Some of these customers noticed that the ‘great deals’ from Tesco were actually more marketing gimmicks than genuine value. And they noticed the poverty of the overall shopping experience – stores, products, service….. Here is a comment that speaks of the marketing gimmicks:
“.. It is consistently more expensive than Asda, Morrisons, even Sainsburys. It’s offers are phoney. Strawberries “half price” at £2. Never seen them at £4 at Tescos or any other supermarkets. Asda had them at £1 so Tesco offered 2 for £2.50 next day, but smaller punnets. Their price drops are a joke, they drop from inflated price (Sometime BOGOF price) and are still expensive. They must think the public are fools and I suppose some are – they don’t even look at prices.”
As a strategist and business consultant, I say that like many successful businesses that end upon hard times Tesco’s strength became its weakness. Put differently, Tesco placed pretty much all of its emphasis on data driven marketing and business management. And in the process it gradually sucked the life out of brand and the customer experience. Rather like a television whose picture quality degrades gradually such that you don’t even notice these small changes until one day you happen to view a television that works properly. The recession was the wake up call for customers.
The data driven marketing allowed Tesco to maximise response and sales by personalizing the offers and coupons to the needs/interests of shoppers. One the business management side, the Clubcard based analytics allowed Tesco to stock the right products in the right stores. It also allowed the business to penny pinch on various areas including the stores, the products and the staff in the stores. This is the classic example of the ‘extraction’ mentality powered by data driven analytics – in my view they power each other. If you have worked with database marketers you might have learned that their focus is on optimising return on the campaign as opposed to maximizing the long-term value of the customer. Often what optimises the ROI on the campaign does the opposite for longer term customer lifetime value and loyalty. The opposite also applies.
What do retail experts say?
According to the Guardian piece (bolding is my work):
“At its annual results in April, Tesco’s chief executive, Philip Clarke, announced a £1bn makeover of the UK chain designed to “put the heart and soul back into Tesco” after domestic profits fell for the first time in more than 20 years. With more than 2,700 stores, Tesco’s domestic chain pumps out two-thirds of the group’s profits and Clarke admitted it had taken “a little bit too much away from the shopper” during years of penny-pinching to boost the bottom line.
And according to the Telegrah piece Phil Dorrell, a director at retail consultants Retail Remedy, says the following ( the bolding is my work):
“Tesco is treading water but the paucity of its long-term marketing strategy could still drag it under. Tesco… continues to offer a bland and soulless shopping experience and will be hard pushed to maintain its market share over this financial year. The leadership still seems to be focused on the quick fixes, more appropriate to running a store than a business”
And finally 5 questions for you to ponder
1. If Tesco was genuinely customer-centric, all those years that it was touted as being the poster child of customer-centricity, then why is it in the state that it is in today?
2. Is it possible that customer-data/insight centricity (which is what often passes of as customer-centricity) is not actually authentic customer-centricity?
3. If intuition is such a poor guide to decision making and salvation lies in data driven insights that drive rational decision making then how is it that by pursuing this path Tesco has ended up here?
4. Is it possible that what is rational over the short-term is not rational over the longer term?
5. Is it possible that what occurs as rational to data scientists and data driven marketers and business managers is actually irrational because customers are human beings and as such irrational factors such as the brand, the customer experience, authentic customer care matters and weaknesses show up over the longer term?
My last post (a practical enquiry into service, customer experience and customer-centricity) generated some interesting conversations. A particularly interesting conversation took place between Bob Thompson and me – you need to scroll towards the bottom and read the comments. In this post I want to address the key question that Bob raised:
“Customer-centricity is at least as vague a term as CRM and CEM. Is it a strategy? A state of mind? A loyal relationship? Personally, I’ve defined “being customer-centric” as delivering value that customers care about. The end results should be more loyal customers. But it’s not quite that simple. How do we explain the success of Ryanair, which offers a low-cost service, gets lots of travelers and makes money, but can hardly be said to have raving fans?“
If you have looked into that conversation between Bob and myself you will see that I addressed the Ryanair issue. So what I up for addressing is the question: what clues can you look for that helps you to distinguish a ‘customer-centric’ from a ‘not customer-centric’ company?
Is listening / responsiveness the distinguishing feature?
In this post Bob Thompson asserts that Starbuck is customer-centric because it listened to him. Bob had an issues with his local Starbucks: “we started noticing that about 30 minutes before the store officially closed, employees brought the tables and chairs from outside and piled them up inside the store. Frankly, it made the store look like “we’re closing” and customers weren’t welcome.” So Bob wrote an email to Starbucks pointing out the issue, he got a response within 24 hours letting him know that the matter would be discussed with the store manager. And then Starbucks acted on Bob’s email request: “Not only did Starbucks listen, they did something. Fast! That evening, and all the evenings since then (I checked) the tables and chairs were left outside until closing. And what do you know, there were customers actually using them!
So my question is that if a company makes it easy for you to contact it, responds quickly to your contact and then sorts out your issue / gives you what you are asking for (like Starbucks did with Bob) does that make that company customer-centric? From where I stand and view customer-centricity the answer is NO. Why?
Think back to my last post and in particular the issue that arose between the customer and Joe the bartender. Joe acting in the best interests of the customer (including the customer’s wife and three children) refused to serve more alcohol to the customer. The customer had an issue with this, he reached out to the company, the company gave Joe (the bartender) a telling off, fixed the issue and compensated the customer for his trouble by giving him two free drinks. What was the end result? The customer got heavily drunk, drove home, had a crash and died – taking three other people with him.
Purpose-Vision-Mission statements – do these help us distinguish a ‘customer-centric’ company from a ‘not customer-centric’ company?
When you read the following vision/mission statements I’d like you to be present to what emotions they evoke in you as well as what thoughts bubble up for you. Let’s start:
Ryanair: “Ryanair’s objective is to firmly establish itself as Europe’s leading low-fares scheduled passenger airline through continued improvements and expanded offerings of its low-fares service. Ryanair aims to offer low fares that generate increased passenger traffic while maintaining a continuous focus on cost-containment and operating efficiencies.”
Yahoo!: “Yahoo!’s mission is to be the most essential global Internet service for consumers and businesses.”
Microsoft: “Microsoft’s mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”
Dell: “Dell’s mission is to be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve.”
OK, now lets move on to a second set of companies. As you read these mission statements please be present to how these land for you – what feelings and thoughts do these evoke for you?
Chick-fil-A: “Chick -fil-A’s corporate purpose statement reveals the heart of our company: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” Chick-fil-A’s mission statement reveals our commitment to service: “To be American’s best quick-service restaurant.”
Southwest Airlines: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
USAA: “To facilitate the financial security of its members, associates and their families through provision of a full range of highly competitive financial products and services; in so doing, USAA seeks to be the provider of choice for the military community.”
Starbucks: “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”
Virgin Atlantic: “At Virgin Atlantic, our mission statement is simple…To grow a profitable airline…Where people love to fly…And where people love to work.”
Did you notice the key differences?
Customer-centric companies are in a totally different league when it comes to the game that they are playing. Did you notice that their mission statements:
1. start with / draw attention to customers, what jobs they will do for their customers, what value they will create, how they will treat their customers?
2. speak words that speak to human beings in terms of their ‘concerns’ as human beings: ‘glorify’,’ faithful’, ‘positive influence’, ‘service’, ‘warmth’, ‘friendliness’, ‘pride’, ‘spirit’, ‘dedication’, ‘member’s, ‘worthwhile satisfying employment’,'discover’, ‘financial security’, ‘competitive products’, ‘families’, ‘nurture’, ‘human spirit’, ‘love’, ‘people’..?
3. are concrete, meaningful and even inspiring to customers (and employees) whereas the mission statements of the ‘not customer-centric’ companies are vague, amorphous, general and generally meaningless and uninspiring?
Customer-Centricity: being of service, enriching lives and contributing to a better world
From where I stand I am clear that the key characteristic that characterise and distinguish a ‘customer-centric’ company from a ‘not customer-centric company’ is that the ‘customer-centric’ company is playing a totally difference game.
The ‘not customer-centric’ companies (including those that espouse customer-centric rhetoric) see customers as tools, as instruments, as means for enriching the Tops and the the people who represent the shareholders. And within that context there is no consideration of the longer term, stewardship of the world that we live in, the dignity of our fellow human beings. Anything goes as long as ‘rent’ is extracted from customers to line the pockets of the Tops and shareholders.
Under the rhetoric of ‘customer focus, customer experience, customer-centricity, customer obsession’ is the urgency to sell, sell, sell the products that the companies has to sell. The customer rhetoric is there only because it has become hard to sell because customers are more demanding, more discriminating and their is a high level of competition. The whole edifice is built on fear, greed and the “I-It” orientation towards customers, employees, suppliers, partners, communities in which these companies operate. In short, this is business as usual – the standard economic/industrial/organisation model that is in place today and accepted as best practice, the smart way to do business.
The ‘customer-centric’ companies are primarily coming from a context of being of service, of contributing to our fellow humans, of making a genuine and worthwhile difference to the lives of the people who touch and are touched by the company- customer-centric companies live a “I-Thou” orientation. The Tops who founded and/or are running these companies get the importance of making profits. Yet, that is not the purpose nor the mission of these companies. To ‘customer-centric’ companies profits are like the air that we breathe necessary to survive and profits are the reward that customers/employees bestow on the company for the service that the company has rendered. Profits are marker of the level of contribution they make. And profits are the grain that can be stored today for when the ‘seven years of famine’ strike.
A warning or two
First warning: ‘customer-centricity’ does not necessarily guarantee financial success. Customer-centric businesses can and do go out of business – all that is needed is a disruptive innovation.
Second warning: you actually have to live up to the ‘customer-centric’ mission statement to be viewed as being ‘customer-centric’ by your employees and customers. Starbucks espoused the mission but took all manner of actions that did not fit in with the mission to grow revenues and profits to meet shareholder expectations. It got into a mess and the man who had formulated, fought for and lived the mission statement (Howard Schultz) had to come back, take over and turn around Starbucks – get the people in the business connected with and living the mission wholeheartedly. Today, Tesco is where Starbucks was at. It espouses a fine mission – “Our core purpose is, ‘To create value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty’. We deliver this through our values, ‘No-one tries harder for customers’, and ‘Treat people how we like to be treated” - and it failed to live up to it for several years and is now paying the price.
The customer loyalty paradox (Part II): what we can learn from Richard Shapiro and The Welcomer Edge
Lets take a brief look at Tesco: why data driven marketing and product management is not enough
Tesco has been heralded by the marketing and CRM gurus (mostly marketers and those selling CRM systems) as the poster child of how to thrive by taking a data centred, technology enabled, approach to doing business. So why is it that Tesco is in real trouble – losing customers, losing market share and issuing its first profit warning in decades? Customer Service and the Customer Experience. Here is what The Grocer says (italics are mine):
“Tesco has vowed to create 20,000 new jobs in the UK over the next two years in a bid to improve customer service……..chief executive Philip Clarke admitted in January that standards of service and of the overall customer experience in Tesco stores had slipped below the levels he expected. He claimed Tesco stores had been “running hot” for too long, with staff over-stretched and not sufficiently well trained enough.”
Listen to what Richard Shapiro writes in the Welcomer Edge
There is a new book on the market called The Welcomer Edge. it is written by an authority on customer service and retention. I found value in this book and I want to share it with you as it illuminates the ‘the road less travelled’ when it comes to cultivating customer loyalty: cultivating loyalty through the personal touch.
Wondering what I am getting at? Business is game of people: people working together to create value for people (customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, the community..) whilst being mindful of and outwitting other people (the competitors). In this post, I pointed I shared RD Laing’s quote:
“Men can and do destroy the humanity of other men, and the condition of this possibility is that we are interdependent. We are not self contained monads producing no effects on each other except our reflections.We are both acted upon, changed for good or ill, by other men; and we are agents who act upon others to affect them in different ways”
Why is it worth listening to Richard?
From where I stand, Richard gets it totally and provides a new language/framework to think about the situation at hand. Language and frameworks make all the difference – we are ALWAYS living out of / coming from some kind of framework, usually from some ancient philosopher who died centuries ago.
In his words:
“How can we re-introduce the person touch in business? Today, most service interactions tend to be robotic, and it’s not because of the customer. The salesperson or customer representative frequently does not make an attempt to make a personal connection or take an interest in the prospective purchaser as a person.”
“…what I learned then, every business should learn now: Customers are people first and consumers second.“
“There is a particular type of staff person who draws new customers to a business and keeps them. I call this type the “welcomer”. Welcomers create a relationship with new customer that can last a lifetime. People are so delighted to do business with welcomers that they will have little reason to change allegiance to the company’s competitors.”
What are the central points that Richard is making in The Welcomer Edge?
He is making clear that which is obvious as common sense in ordinary day living and which is anything but obvious when you examine the way businesses operate. In Richard’s words:
“…when a customer walks out of a store due to a lack of service, that organisation has just killed its goal of generating repeat business. Without a consistent flow of repeat business, no company can survive in the long term.”
Do you think he is going over the top, allow me to share my Tesco experience with you. I went to shop at Tesco, about a month ago, only to walk out in disgust empty handed. Why? Because of the poor service. There were not enough cashiers so I was ‘forced’ to self-serve only to find that after scanning 20+ items the system would not complete the transaction. Why? Because I had purchased a DVD that had a 18+ rating. The system told me to wait and someone would come to help me. I waited several minutes, nobody came and so I left over £100 of shopping there and walked out in frustration vowing never to return. And I have not returned.
Richard makes a bold claim that I agree with, in his words:
“Welcomers are so important that a company that finds, hires, and rewards them has a distinct advantage over a business that does not.“
When I read that sentence I think Zappos (customer care lines staffed by welcomers who create that personal touch). I think about Richer Sounds in the UK, a hi-fi retailer. I think about the transformation Howard Shultz brought about when he returned as CEO to take control of a failing Starbucks which had lost sight of why customers came to Starbucks:“People come to Starbucks for coffee and human connection.”
Final thoughts, recommendation and an invitation
Business is ALL about people. It is time to get that many if not most of us feel that we live in an indifferent world especially when it comes to interacting with organisations and the people who staff them. Customers are human beings and as such they are a social beings who have a deep need for relatedness and when this is not present most of us pay a big price. Welcomers, whilst few and far between in the business world (partly because they are not welcomed / acknowledged / inspired / rewarded appropriately) are the difference that makes the difference when it comes to service businesses. Welcomers naturally & automatically reach out, connect and unlock the gate to the human heart inside of customers. Richard talks about many welcomers and one in particular stood out for me, Javier, this is what he says about his role:
“..when I worked at the deli counter, my job wasn’t just to slice cold cuts and cheese. It was to put a smile on someone’s heart.”
If you have any serious interest in cultivating customer loyalty then you have to get the service interactions right. That means recruiting a context that: attracts Welcomers to you (to join you as members of staff); allows them to do what they do naturally – be great with people; acknowledges and rewards their contribution so that they stay with you.
How to end this post? Above and beyond the valuable framework and language that Richard provides in The Welcomer Edge there is a certain quality – a human quality – that I really like about this book. On my shelf it sits next to Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, Chris Zane’s Reinventing The Wheel and Howard Shultz’s Onward. If you are serious about solving the customer loyalty paradox then I recommend reading The Welcomer Edge along with the others that I have listed here.
Disclosure: Richard sent me two signed copies of The Welcomer Edge. I am tempted to write that this did not affect my sharing here. And I know that I cannot say that because we are all affected by the kind or unkind acts of our fellow human beings whether we recognise that consciously or not. All I can tell you is that it occurs to me that I have shared honestly based on the merits of the book and the value I have gotten out of it.
If you have subscribed to The Customer Blog and are keen to read The Welcomer Edge then please email me (email@example.com) with your address and I will post the spare signed copy of The Welcomer Edge. Please note that I have only one copy to share so if you want it then email me fast: when it’s gone, it’s gone!