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Customer Feedback Systems to Go Beyond Customer Expectations

Customer Feedback Systems to Go Beyond Customer Expectations

There used to be a sofa in Microsoft’s telephone customer support center called “the Mail Merge couch”—named for a feature in Microsoft’s word-processing program that lets users customize form letters. The early version of Mail Merge was so complicated that whenever a customer called for help, Microsoft’s representative would lie down on the couch, knowing the conversation was likely to take a long time.

Clearly, something was wrong with that feature. Microsoft fixed the problem in the next generation of Word (and eliminated the need for the couch), but the story illustrates just how important customer feedback can be.

Most business managers understand that using customer feedback to guide the development and improvement of products and services is critical to success. However, some companies and individual managers are better than others are at collecting feedback and using it to make strategy decisions.

Nine Customer Feedback Rules for Managers

Managers who want to help their companies be customer-driven might observe the following nine rules.

  1. Create a system for effectively soliciting customer feedback, and then put that system to work. Boeing uses extensive customer involvement when developing new jetliner models. United Airlines influenced the design of both the 767 and the 777, and British Airways and Eastern Airlines participated in developing of the 757. As a result, the airlines were able to tailor the planes to their specific needs and preferences.
  2. Make sure your feedback system provides reliable information from a cross-section of customers. When a company has thousands or millions of customers, it can’t involve many of them in the product design, but it can involve a representative sample of customers.
  3. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback. Some companies offer a customer-feedback phone number. Surveys are another system for gathering feedback, but many people, including me, are not willing to spend much time answering them. Observing customers while they are using existing products and services is habitually the only way to identify hidden frustrations that they may not even be deliberately conscious of.
  4. Microsoft's Nine Customer Feedback Rules for Managers Send e-mail surveys to customers and offer incentives to fill them out and return them. The incentive may be a little digital money or coupons to buy products at a discount. The electronic survey will be immensely efficient for the company, because the survey results will be in electronic form, making results easier to compile and analyze. Some companies already use the Internet in this way. Encyclopedia Britannica recently e-mailed people who had accepted a free seven-day trial of the company’s online reference, offering another free week to those willing to fill out an online survey about their reactions to the product and its price.
  5. Use focus group and customer councils. Getting a few customers together to discuss their reactions to current and new products or services is another good way to collect customer feedback, although these groups and councils, too, have their limitations.
  6. Go beyond what market research tells you. The transition to graphical computing is an example of an instance where Microsoft needed to go beyond what Microsoft’s market research was telling us. Most software customers who were surveyed did not know they would prefer graphical computing because they had not tried it. Microsoft believed that customers would prefer the new way of interacting with their computers, even though Microsoft’s market research was not very positive. Microsoft’s gamble proved right.
  7. Log and evaluate all service requests, customer suggestions, and product complaints. Microsoft logs and evaluates hundreds of thousands of calls made to Microsoft’s support technicians every year. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Observe them using products and watch for frustrations they may not even notice.
  8. Require that the software engineers who develop products spend some time listening to calls from customers. These engineers need to get firsthand feedback. To get the attention of Microsoft’s group managers, Microsoft charges their departments for the cost of providing technical support to customers who use their products.
  9. Request, receive, and act on input from your salespeople. Microsoft seeks and use input for the people who are out in the field with customers. In this industry, customers are eager to share their ideas, frustrations, and enthusiasm. Microsoft is also lucky to be in an industry where products are so adaptable. Whereas it might take an automobile company five years to retool a car model to adapt to customer preferences, software companies can—and do—update their products constantly in response to customer input.

Beyond Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is critical to success of a business No system of market research is foolproof, of course. Even companies that do a good job of listening to customers can make mistakes. Business partners are relying on questionable information to make customer-related decisions. Our new understanding of customer-related decision making should be the starting point for a research approach that has impact on a greater proportion of high-value customer-related decisions.

I am a strong believer that heeding customer feedback is critical to success in any business, especially a dynamic, fast-moving industry such as ours. Despite Microsoft’s willingness to look beyond customer input, 80 percent of the improvements in products like Windows result from customer feedback. Experience has taught us that it is also important to trust your instincts, to take risks, and to provide leadership, even when the customer is not demanding that you do so.

Apply these rules to your business and use the feedback to make improvements. Companies often make the blunder of organizing customer feedback systems around one structure—say lines of business or channel—and employee feedback systems around another—say geography or function. In the end, well-designed feedback loops facilitate employees to be more empowered and companies to be more approachable, creating the competitive edge companies need to adapt and thrive.

Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

Marketing Demographics by Age

Marketing Demographics by Age

Companies seeking long-term business growth can find it by emphasizing the earning power of young workers, near-retirees, and women.

We all want to be treated equally and fairly during the buying and service process, regardless of our age. Let’s examine how you, as a service provider, can give exceptional service by understanding the needs and values of each age group.

Marketing to The Veterans

Marketing to The Veterans These people were born before 1943. Their beliefs and values include: Everyone should adhere and conform to the same rules, regulations, and policies. Those who are older or in positions of authority automatically deserve respect. Patience is an important virtue. The bigger the better. Personal pleasure is secondary to job responsibilities and tasks.

To win them over as a lifetime customers, make them feel special by remembering their name. Honor them by calling them Mr. or Mrs. or Sir and Ma’am. Thank them for their patronage with a personal note. Add a personal touch, and show genuine interest in them as a person.

Marketing to The Boomers

Marketing to The Boomers These people were born between 1943 and 1960. Their beliefs include: If it’s not working, either fix it or move on and find something better. They value personal growth, health, and wellness. They are optimistic. They believe they are the star and deserve center stage.

To keep them as lifetime customers, provide service that treats them as individuals, not just clients. Be personable. They value personal relationships that grow with time. Be solution oriented. If you can’t fix something, be honest; and then offer alternatives. Boomers value their time and want solutions now. Don’t tell Boomers what they can do.

Marketing to Generation X

Marketing to Generation X Baby Busters or 20-somethings were born between 1960 and 1980. They have a need to be self-reliant. They value family and friends. They tend to be informal and look for fun in every situation. They treat everyone as an equal regardless of “rank” but tend to be skeptical. They have respect for knowledge and technology.

If you want them to do business with your company, show interest in their family and friends, and admire their children if they are tagging along, or their pictures are prominently displayed on their desk. Treat them as equals. Approach situations in a relaxed and informal manner. Let them ask questions and seek information. Show that you have nothing to hide. Use technology to demonstrate your product and services.

Marketing to The Nexters

Marketing to The Nexters Generation Y or the Internet Generation were born between 1980 and 2000. They tend to be optimistic, street smart and very computer and technology literate. Achievement oriented, they are also strong believers in civic duty. They learn flexibility early since many come from divorced families.

If you want these customers to do business with your company, appeal to their strengths. These young people like to spend money, and they are more likely to purchase your product if your business donates to non-profit organizations. Also, appeal to their technical shrewdness. If it makes life more convenient, easier or is the latest in technology, they will probably want it.

Conclusion: For successful marketing by age-demographics, consider each age group and customize your service

Service providers can give exceptional service by understanding the needs and values of each age group. I give these guidelines to assist you in providing the best possible customer care, but nothing will ever surpass kind and equal treatment to each and every customer you serve.

Learn to present information in a different manner to appeal to core values, which are different for each generation.

Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

Customer Satisfaction Begins with Employee Engagement

The quickest ticket to customer satisfaction is through dependable, excellent service. As companies contend for competitive advantage, many find that refining service quality and customer satisfaction can be intangible. The first step to realizing both is to raise employee engagement.

'180 Ways To Build Employee Engagement' by Brian Gareau, Al Lucia (ISBN 193553792X) All organizations benefit from having an engaged workforce. But for those whose success pivots on delivering excellent customer service, a superior kind of employee engagement, customer-focused engagement, has an even tougher effect. Customer- focused engagement occurs when employee work groups are committed to (and passionate about) producing excellent service to their customers.

Employees won’t become engaged with service quality just because you demand them to. It takes time and effort to nurture an environment where engagement can set in and grow. With the right leadership, resources and information, you can shape the environment to engage employees and focus their efforts where it matters most—on customer satisfaction.

Correlation Between Employee Satisfaction and Customer Satisfaction

Evidence for Employee Engagement for Customer Satisfaction

Will an investment in employee engagement pay for itself through increased customer satisfaction?

We gauged satisfaction levels of 50 firms using the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). To measure customer-focused engagement, we probed employees to rate elements like, “We help customers beyond what is required,” and “The norm here is to help customers.”

'The Employee Engagement Mindset' by Timothy R. Clark (ISBN 0071788298) When we charted the employee survey results for each company against ASCI score for that company, we discovered that the higher the level of customer-focused engagement, the better the score on customer satisfaction. Actually, we see an absolute correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. When you enhance customer-focused engagement, you will increase customer satisfaction.

Companies whose employees are highly engaged with customer service are rated the highest in customer satisfaction. Raising customer-focused employee engagement translates into dollars on the bottom line, possibly a lot of dollars. A mere one-point rise in your ASCI score can boost your ROI by an average of 11.4 percent!

What Gets Measured Gets Attention

Prior to you can increase engagement, you first must gage it. An precise measure of employee engagement requires a special survey—not the employee satisfaction survey. There is a distinction between employee satisfaction and engagement.

  • Satisfied employees feel enjoyable, satisfied, content, and comfortable. And they tend to have low absence, low turnover, and low substance abuse. But they may be neither engaged nor driven to expend extra effort in their work or for customers.
  • In contrast, engaged employees perform in ways that enhance the customer experience. They go the extra mile in the interest of service quality and customer satisfaction. When your customers receive superior service every day, it can have a spectacular impact on your financial health.

Engaged employees (focused on customers) feel fervent about providing excellent service, energized by helping customers, involved in their work, trusting of their manager. They feel safe to make decisions, take risks, or speak up with worries. They are committed to the goal of providing service excellence. They create relationships with customers, not just fill orders; anticipate customer needs; support coworkers so that they can provide service excellence; take initiative to ensure consistent service; and find answers to customer questions.

Creating Employee Engagement for Customer Satisfaction

Creating Employee Engagement for Customer Satisfaction

Engaging employees is not simply a matter of telling them what to do. The way to change someone’s work performance is to first change the way they feel about their jobs. Tailor your programs around six areas:

  1. Job design. When jobs are thought-provoking and allow employees to use all of their talents, they feel involved. Time passes quickly, and effort required to do the work is easy to give. Engagement is high when employees are working to achieve detailed difficult goals—goals they accept as judicious and attainable, but ones that also provide a “stretch.”
  2. Immediate managers. Managers play a big role in how employees feel about their jobs. Impartiality and trust shown to the employees by their managers will create a culture of engagement in the work group, ensuring a collective, organized effort in serving customers.
  3. Service message. Most of the service message employees receive comes from cues from their immediate manager as to what is important. Managers must recognize and strengthen service excellence, ensure that obstacles to excellence are removed, and set goals for service excellence. Without everything employees experience focuses their efforts on service quality and customer satisfaction, customer satisfaction likely won’t emerge.
  4. Resources. When employees feel they have the resources they need to do their jobs well, they are more involved in their customer service.
  5. HR policies. Organizations that ensure their HR management systems promote customer satisfaction—who gets hired, how they are trained, what is measured in performance management—produce customer-focused engagement.
  6. Benchmarking. You need baseline knowledge about employee engagement levels and customer satisfaction before you make changes. Use surveys and other assessment tools to measure employee engagement occasionally to evaluate progress.

Employee engagement has become such a hot theme that great groups of consultants and authors are undeniably banging on your door as we speak, armed with sufficient action plans and PowerPoint presentations to make your head spin. When employees are satisfied and engaged, the outcome is deeper customer connections and an raised customer experience.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Lessons from Jeff Bezos and Amazon and Jeff Bezos

Amazon has played a key role in the structural shift away from brick-and-mortar retail, and it may lay waste to many other retailers in the years to come.

'The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon' by Brad Stone (ISBN 0316219266) Brad Stone’s The Everything Store—Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon quotes Bezos for a foundation of understanding what makes Amazon different: “We are genuinely customer-centric, we are genuinely long term-oriented, and we genuinely like to invent… Very few companies have all those 3 elements.”

  • Customer Focus: Amazon’s mission statement is to “raise the bar across industries, and around the world, for what it means to be customer-focused.” The first of the company’s Core Values is “customer obsession.” Bezos has been known to keep an empty chair at the conference table at meetings to ensure that the decision makers know that the customer needs to be represented at the table.

  • Long-Term Orientation: Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owes much of his success to his ability to look beyond the short-term view of things. In the 1997 IPO documents, Jeff Bezos declared, “It’s all about the long term, … we may make decisions and weigh tradeoffs differently than some companies” and urged them to make sure that a long-term approach “is consistent with your investment policy.” Amazon’s management and employees “are working to build something important, something that matters to our customers, something that we can tell our grandchildren about,” he added.

  • Innovation: Amazon continues to be the most innovative retailer in the world. Amazon has not only continued to revolutionize retail through numerous innovations that improve the customer experience and drive consumers to buy more goods from the company. Not only has Amazon emerged as the undisputed e-commerce champ, but the CEO has embarked on the most ambitious new growth initiatives in the company’s history. The plan to sell access to Amazon’s vaunted computing infrastructure has taken off with startups and recently with some corporations. Amazon is one of the true innovators in Web-based computing, offering pay-as-you-go access to virtual servers and data storage space.

Recommended Book: “Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” by Brad Stone is an excellent introduction to the founding of Amazon and the vision and strategy employed by Jeff Bezos to transform into a retailing powerhouse.

Posted in Business and Strategy

Before You Start a Business

Before You Start a Business

  • Come up with a great business idea: Great businesses are built on great ideas. Discover your own great idea by drawing on some basic principles plus inspiration from famous entrepreneurs. But first, you must know who your customers are, which is not as straightforward as it sounds.
  • Understand your market: Starting a business is risky. Give your business the best chance to survive and thrive by taking three important steps: conduct primary and secondary research, understand the five key success factors, and create a competitive landscape table that rates the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
  • Prototype your idea to make your idea a reality: Add two important skills to your entrepreneurial toolkit: writing a theory of business and building a prototype. By following these two actions, you’ll be able to refine your business idea, demonstrate that it’s possible to achieve, and show that your idea delivers what your customers want.
  • Perform market analysis and develop a marketing strategy: Continue your examination of the business plan by focusing on the marketing portion, which should include your research and analysis of the market as well as a comprehensive marketing strategy. Stress the importance of telling a persuasive story.
  • Conduct risk analysis: Potential investors reading your business plan will want to know that you have a plan to deal with possible obstacles and catastrophic surprises. Discover tools such as the Porter Five Forces Model and the SWOT analysis, which provide insight into critical risks and how to address them.
Posted in Business and Strategy Education and Career

Customer-Centric Innovation to Deliver Superior Performance

Customer-Centric Innovation to Deliver Superior Performance

Perhaps no industry has contributed more to enhance the quality of life of people worldwide than the technology industry. Our products and services influence every walk of life, the way we work and the way we play. Still, we need to re-focus. The road to recovery is often the road to discovery. The promise of an industry turn-around challenges us to learn how to engineer that turn-around.

What I want to say is “Let’s get real” by creating real solutions for real customer problems-not examples of technology for technology’s sake or digital pies in the sky. Let’s get real with innovative technology that enables people to do what they want to do better, faster, more productively, and more cost effectively than they ever could before.

Rock’s Law and Moore’s Law

Two unique conditions frame the situation we face today:

  1. Rock’s law. The first is an obscure observation about the cost of capital. It was offered by Arthur Rock, a venture capitalist. It says that the cost of capital equipment in our industry will double every four years. That observation has held true to the point where the cost of new high-end wafer fabrication is prohibitively expensive to everyone but the largest players. Developing new and more technically advanced transistors are very expensive.
  2. Moore’s law. Another economic theory, Moore’s Law, states that the average cost of a semiconductor transistor will decrease by half every 18 months. By the late 1970s, the incremental cqst of a transistor had already dropped below a penny. Today, the cost of transistors is approaching one-millionth of a penny. We’re practically giving them away.

Once something is essentially free and it has value, it will find its way into many places. This is true of the transistor. Software and silicon have become the “plastic and steel” of today’s economy. This should make all of us feel better about our long-term macroeconomic prospects. More products are characterized by the features and functionality defined in software and silicon. The IT industry is rapidly becoming the DNA of every industry—and it is changing the competitive dynamics.

We have an enormous influenceand enormous responsibility to ensure that people take advantage of the technology that we create. If we can be criticized for anything, we can be faulted for our tendency to create a lot of technology and very little innovation. What’s the difference? In a word, customers.

Connected Business Model We have been guilty of pushing our capacity to deliver more and more, faster and faster, simply because we can. Sometimes we forget that someone out there has to do something a whole lot better than they could before. Otherwise, what we do is basically irrelevant. It’s high time we refocus around the customer. Adopt a policy that says: “No new technology without real customer input or without real customer demand.” At AMD, we call this “customer-centric innovation,” and it is driving everything that we do these days. Being a “customer-centric” company demands that you understand the needs of both direct customers and the customer’s customers, meaning consumers.

We have seen a dramatic transformation in what consumers want from their technology. With the Internet and improved wireless communication standards, PCs are arguably more connectivity devices than productivity devices.

  • At home, the primary applications for a personal computer are e-mail, instant messaging, and Internet access. The time is fast arriving when we will see the PC become the central hub of the home.
  • At work, productivity is still supremely important, but with the Internet, productivity is seen as dependent on connectivity. Companies know that their scarcest resource is creativity and that the only way to exploit it is to connect people to the resources they need to rapidly bring their idt:as to life. In short, at home and at work, connections are the currency of our lives.

Metcalfe’s Law

While Rock’s Law and Moore’s Law continue to be technically accurate, they have declining relevance because they say nothing about customers and what they might do with that technology. They say nothing about “customer-centric innovation.” If any business “law’ is relevant to our times it’s Metcalfe’s Law, developed by Robert Metcalfe when he was at Xerox PARC. His law states that “the value of a network grows as the square number of the users of that network.”

For example, if you were the only one with a telephone, it would be of little value. However, since almost everyone has a telephone, this device has incredible value. A company is a network of people, capabilities, and ideas. Using Metcalfe’s Law as a model, the value of a company depends not on its size, but upon the number and quality of that company’s connections in the world.

I mention the “quality” of relationships because I believe that in the future, the quality of the connection will count the most I see Metcalfe’s Law as the new Rule of Engagement—one that will set the standard for excellence in our industry and for our customers in the years to come—because it represents a powerful connection between companies, between peoples and between cultures.

Partnerships and relationships are the key to a new business model. Our commitment to this “connected business model” is something we reinforce in everything we do every day. Work with your partners, and deliver compelling technologies that deliver superior performance.

Posted in Business and Strategy

How to Create a Culture of Accountability

How to Create a Culture of Accountability

Most people view accountability as something that belittles them or happens only when performance wanes, problems develop, results suffer, something goes wrong, or someone seeks to identify the cause of the problem, all for the sake of pinning blame and pointing the finger. When things sail along smoothly, people rarely ask, “Who is accountable for this success?”

Most dictionaries define accountability in a negative view. Consider Webster’s definition: “subject to having to report, explain, or justify; being answerable and responsible.” The words “subject to” imply little choice in the matter. This suggests that accountability is a consequence for poor performance, something you should fear or avoid. When people experience accountability this way, they shun it and justify poor results.

We need a more positive and powerful definition of accountability. Consider ours: “A personal choice to rise above your circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieve desired results.

This definition includes a mindset of asking, “What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and achieve the desired results?” It involves seeing it, owning it, solving it, and doing it, and requires making, keeping, and answering for personal commitments. Such a perspective embraces current and future efforts rather than reactive, historical explanations. With this new definition, you can help yourself and others do everything possible to overcome difficult circumstances and achieve desired results.

Accountability in Action

As hard as he tried, Dave Schlotterbeck, CEO of Alaris Medical Systems, could not get his 2,900 employees to perform. The $500 million company had resulted from a merger of IVAC and Imed. While the merger should have produced strength, debt and under-performance stalled all efforts.

The breakthrough at Alaris was the result of focused effort. Through a series of cross-functional feedback sessions between operations, sales, quality, customer care and service, individuals were confronted with hard facts. People could see the problem and how they could change it. They overcame the barriers of functional expertise and prefer ences and aligned themselves for the common good. ALARIS attained a culture of accountability in which everyone wanted to do and achieve more.

Here are four steps to take in creating a culture of accountability

  1. Know what result you need to reach. Whether you have a sales goal, a delivery date for your product, or a minimum ROI to achieve, know what result you need to reach. Once you set the goat make it clear to all managers and employees. Everyone must know what they are working for and how their job moves the company forward.
  2. Generate joint accountability for results. This occurs when everyone assumes accountability for the result. No one can even think, let alone say, that he has done his job if the team has not achieved its targeted result. In fact, no one can think or say that she has achieved her individual result if the company has not achieved its result. Leaders can create joint accountability by targeting a clear result, driving the result though the company, and holding everyone accountable for achieving the result—not just doing his or her job. Joint accountability demands that everyone become accountable for producing the results the company must achieve.
  3. Keep people focused on achieving the result, not just putting in time and doing tasks. Often, job descriptions push people into boxes. They give people the idea that they are getting paid and using their skills to perform a defined function or task. The task mindset leads people to believe that if they perform their functions, they’ve done the job, whether or not the result is achieved. Effective leaders lead people beyond the boundaries of their jobs and inspire them to relentlessly pursue results by creating a culture that motivates them to ask, “What else can I do?” until the results are achieved. They help people see that their “job” is to achieve the results. The daily activities that comprise people’s jobs must be aligned with the targeted results.
  4. Direct you own destiny. Only when you assume full accountability for your thoughts, feelings, actions and results can you direct your own destiny; otherwise, someone else will. Accountability enables you to influence events and outcomes before they happen. You will gain much more from a proactive posture than from a reactive one.

This view of accountability can help revitalize your character, strengthen your competitiveness, heighten innovation, improve the quality of your products and services, and increase your responsiveness to the needs and wants of your customers and constituents. When you create a culture of accountability, you will achieve the results you want, and everyone will help you along the way.

Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators

Advice to Entrepreneurs: Dell’s Michael Dell on Giving Customers Something They Truly Loved

Peter Drucker famously said that the fundamental purpose of a business is to create a customer—nothing else matters nearly as much to an entrepreneur as this. It is critical to understand that only customers that can pay for an entrepreneur’s products and services make his business viable. Here is advice from Michael Dell on giving customers something they truly loved. Michael Dell is the chairman and CEO of Dell, the computer technology corporation.

  • Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Experiment, and learn from those experiences.
  • Don’t wait for the perfect plan. Look for opportunities where you can truly bring a better offering forward to the customers and market yourself.
  • Following someone else’s lead is usually not the answer. Be unique to your customers and seize the opportunity to create value for them in a way that your competitors either don’t want to or cannot.
  • The greatest business successes of our time have always been about giving customers something they truly loved. This requires evaluation, transformation, and sometimes even radical change to stay relevant and ahead of your customers changing needs. That’s entrepreneurialism at its best.

'World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It' by John A. Byrne (ISBN 1591844509) Source: “World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It” by John A. Byrne. John A. Byrne is chairman and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media Inc., a digital media startup Byrne was previously executive editor and editor-in-chief of and founding editor at Fast Company. Byrne is the author or co-author of eight books on business, leadership, and management, including Jack: Straight from the Gut with Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric. In “World Changers,” John Byrne presents potent advice on entrepreneurism and fascinating insights into what it takes to succeed as entrepreneurs from successful business luminaries such as Apple’s Steve Jobs to HARPO’s Oprah, from India’s Ratan Tata to Brazil’s Eike Batista. John Byrne deduces that the three essential characteristics that help entrepreneurs succeed are the ability to see opportunities where everyone else sees problems, problem with authority and status-quo, and an astounding ability to live with risk and the prospect of failure.

Recommended Reading

Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Advice to Entrepreneurs: Starbucks’s Howard Schultz on How Customers Want Business to Win

For many entrepreneurs, the process of beginning a company begins with the “light bulb moment” when they envision a breakthrough idea for a new product or service. Here is advice from Howard Schultz on how customers want business to win. Howard Schultz is the chairman and CEO of Starbucks, the global coffee company and coffeehouse chain.

Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks What I learned, first off, is that our customers really wanted us to win. They had such respect for the company. There is a large reservoir of trust around the values of the company. Our customers know we provide healthcare for our people.

I also learned that despite the growth and ubiquity of the company, it was critical for us to be locally relevant.

'World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It' by John A. Byrne (ISBN 1591844509) Source: “World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It” by John A. Byrne. John Byrne, a former editor at BusinessWeek and Fast Company magazines, co-authored Jack: Straight from the Gut with Jack Welch, former General Electric Chairman and CEO. In “World Changers,” John Byrne presents potent advice on entrepreneurism and fascinating insights into what it takes to succeed as entrepreneurs from successful business luminaries such as Apple’s Steve Jobs to HARPO’s Oprah, from India’s Ratan Tata to Brazil’s Eike Batista. John Byrne deduces that the three essential characteristics that help entrepreneurs succeed are the ability to see opportunities where everyone else sees problems, problem with authority and status-quo, and an astounding ability to live with risk and the prospect of failure.

Recommended Reading

Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Be Hit with your Customers by Adopting Ten Traits

Hit with your Customers

A professional who delights a customer builds a huge pool of goodwill and positive word of mouth for his company, his team, and for himself. Employees don’t need to be too creative or imaginative to wow the customers they serve. All they need to do is treat customers as they would like to be treated if they were themselves in the customer’s shoes:

  1. Listen-ability. Asking coherent questions and listening with great attention with an intent to add value to the customer.
  2. Imagination. Going beyond the accepted procedures once in a while to try something new and add to the delight of customers.
  3. Congeniality. Being forthcoming and appreciate the variety and individuality of people.
  4. Hard, steady work. Doing what’s necessary and going beyond within the framework to help customers succeed.
  5. Prudence. Balancing the specifics with the overall picture, weighing the cost versus the benefits and making logical decisions.
  6. Individuality. Inventing new ways of doing things, if it works for the customer without additional resources.
  7. Passion. Uncovering and mapping customer journeys with creative, innovative action.
  8. Trust. Cultivating the outlook that all people are worth trusting.
  9. Flexibility. Being compliant yet pliable and adapting to altering conditions.
  10. Cheerfulness. Taking a positive view, embracing constraints as a source of creativity, and focusing on the positive before the negative.
Posted in Education and Career