Good customer service is not going to guarantee you business success any more than poor customer service – as long as it is poor when your product is hot or low cost – will put you out of business. Ethical behaviour won’t make you rich in business either. Yet the past few weeks I have been thinking about the number of times I have seen companies or businesses pushing the boundaries of what can be done to create an enterprise that is caring, even if profits could be enhanced a bit if you were not as ethical or concerned about your town, city, community and customers.
I live in a small city in New England. We have a restaurant in town called Miya Sushi that focuses on hyper-local sustainable food. You can see their remarkable story at http://miyassushi.com/about/ . You won’t find most tuna or salmon or shrimp on the menu. Mostly you will see what the owner, Bun, and his team have caught in their own patch of ocean that is not facing stress or endangerment. He also has a great, fresh dish that costs $3.50. Why? Because that’s about the cost of the most popular Fast Food sandwiches in the world. For the same price as one of these fried, caloric, salty/sweet fast food sandwiches you can have a nutritious, low calorie dish. The restaurant also gives much of its profit back to the community as a way of saying thank you, and as a way of saying that the health of the community matters.
Another story. Recently I had to return a pair of shoes to a company called DSW. My daughter loved the shoes but there was a problem with them. And of course I didn’t have a receipt. I didn’t even have the same credit card anymore. But we did have a loyalty card. This was a late Sunday afternoon. The store manager happened to be the one speaking with us. His approach was that it was their problem, not mine. He rang a central pricing office to find out what they might cost, using information from our Loyalty Card. Within minutes the purchase price was credited back to the card. The entire experience from end to end was one of trust and respect and the systems were all in place to make the interaction a great one. The technology all worked flawlessly, and the customer process worked smoothly.
I have heard dozens of business leaders looking at the issue of ‘giving back’ to the community. Not as much at large multi-nationals, but more at midsized businesses. I work at one of those companies that places a high value on employees giving, volunteering, and performing charitable acts. It encourages employees to take the time. It backs that up with Matching Grants for money given to charity. If you want to tutor inner-city children, or read to the elderly, or raise money for cancer research – you just go for it.
Gartner is not unique. Companies around the world are realizing that engaged employees, employees who believe their employer is ethical, work harder to make the business a success. And customers, when faced with a great policy, dedicated employees, connected via great technologies that work, are loyal. No, these are not panacea, but they make for a better planet, and it is contagious.
In a couple of weeks I will be giving a webinar on how midsized businesses can finding the right technologies to engage customers on all channels, and within a budget – log on if you have time – http://bit.ly/ICAMiV - that’s Monday, 14 May, EDT: 2:00 p.m. | PDT: 11:00 a.m. Maybe I’ll ‘see you’ there.