It's my 21st anniversary of being in business. Wow. That's a long time and a lot of learning. I began with an idea. Imagine if you will, that every business sits atop a tripod - three legs, needing to be in balance to keep the business stable. Each leg represents a set of relationships. One is "External" and is all about the relationships you have outside the company - customers, communities, suppliers etc. The second is "Internal", all about the relationships inside the company. The third, I call "Inner" is about the relationship each of us has with ourselves and our work.
I call this the Working Relationship Tripod™ and it forms the operating system for my thinking about what makes organizations and individuals thrive.
On this auspicious anniversary, I want to share 21 simple insights, 7 for each of the "legs" of my tripod.
- Customers have two sets of needs - business needs and emotional needs. Excel at determining and delivering on both sets of needs consistently and you win.
- The bridge between customer satisfaction and loyalty is built with positive emotions. When a customer feels appreciated, valued, important, welcomed, heard, validated and secure you've got a better chance than the next guy at keeping them longer.
- Customers love consistency and they love surprises. Make your business processes consistent enough that they feel secure and flexible enough so they are occasionally pleasantly surprised.
- The customer is not always right so you have to be extraordinarily good at letting go of your own need to be right and skillfully handle all kinds of situations with grace.
- These days customers are often tired, stressed and cranky. Ease their pain. Make it easy (and maybe even fun) to do business with you. Ahhhhh.
- Customers change - and fast. Your ability to be flexible and responsive is key. Listen carefully.
- Customers are not "targets" to shoot for. They are real live breathing human beings looking to make connections and get what they need. Drop the war terminology. Make love, not war.
- Everyone inside an organization is a customer and/or a supplier. Together they from a "value chain" that extends out to the external customers. Does everyone know the part they play? Do they take good care of each other?
- Teams need a worthwhile vision to work towards and a leader that keeps them focused on it.
- Trust, respect, appreciation and clear, open communication without blame or judgment create a safe place where people can contribute, without fear.
- Fear narrows focus and shuts down the creative process. Optimism and positivity open the mind and help people be more productive and creative. People like working in a positive workplace.
- Teams thrive in a positive environment. A 5:1 Positivity : Negativity ratio is ideal for expansion, engagement and expression.
- We can't motivate people - people motivate themselves when we create an environment that helps them feel good (and safe) at work.
- You can't create real value in the marketplace unless you create real value in the workplace. Culture eats strategy for lunch. The best teams work on their culture and live in their values continuously as part of their strategy.
- People need to know what is expected of them. They usually live up or down to those expectations.
- People need to feel a sense of belonging and contribution in order to want to get up and come to work every day.
- People like to be challenged as long as the challenge takes them into their stretch zone and not into the panic zone.
- Customer CARE relies on "discretionary effort". It can't be mandated, it has to come from inside. When an individual feels valued and appreciated themselves, it's much easier to create.
- People operate best when they have a clear personal mission and know how it fits in with the organization's mission. Good leaders help them find it.
- The "What kind of value can I create today?" ethos thrives when encouraged, acknowledged and appreciated.
- Organizations don't change, people do. People have to make the personal choice to make a change. The higher the value the higher the higher the motivation. What's in it for them?
The biggest shift I've seen in 21 years is the "power shift" that has occurred with customers. The power has shifted from the people who sell to the people who buy. The customer is in charge. Customer generated media has changed the world we live in. For the better I think.
Customers today are demanding truth, transparency and authenticity. They can find anything they want at a better price somewhere in the world - which is now at their fingertips. Companies that get that are organizing around their customers' needs and opening the dialog for change inside the organization.
For 21 years I've been asking the same question - How can I help?
Please let me know how I can help you enrich all the working relationships in your life. Thank you so much for being a part of mine.
All the best,