Trendwatching is a big part of innovation work. For us, it’s important to distinguish between what’s trendy and a real trend. How do you do that?
“For things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently.” – From the book Switch: How to change things when change is hard.
I was watching the above video from Trendwatching’s trend video report from earlier this year and it got me thinking about which brands I love and which I think care about me. Personally I can’t say that any brand really cares about me but I can tell you which one’s I love and they probably don’t even know I do: Amazon, Apple, Jordan, Nike, Evernote, Firefox, Porsche, Heineken, Jack Daniels, Antivir, Dropbox among others.
The universal truth is that no brand really cares about YOU, they care about your buying power. With such a dominant assumption (rule) why is it that businesses don’t choose to break it?
It’s hard? It can’t be done?
There’s a crazy (in a good way!) company called Zappos that is Delivering Happiness 24/7 for 365 days a year to it’s customers and is proving that the rule can be broken. Zappos has proven that making people happy as a was of doing business is a competitive advantage by essentially deciding to act differently than every other business by making employee and customer happiness their focus.
They’ve made it clear that the customer IS their business. It’s such a powerful idea that Zappos decided to turn it into an online management consulting business to spread their gospel further (everyone will be better off). To deliver happiness requires a shift in mindset, to question the dominant assumption that business is all about profit. It requires that you do a little ‘shaking up’ and decide to act differently, to go above and beyond the normal. They broke the pattern!
So what’s to learn about the great Zappos?
A way of showing that you care is by acting human with customers by being aware of what’s happening in their world. For example earlier this year I ate at a restaurant where they instituted a NO TIP policy because they would much rather have customers come back and eat than have ‘give more money away’. I later found out that this business was aware of Zappos and was implementing some out of ordinary tactics which I clearly can tell because almost everyone I’ve taken there to eat have made some remark about their attention to the customer.
Another way is by creating permanent mechanisms that reinforce the human aspect such as Zappos customer service oriented culture and their ability to go beyond the normal such as sending flowers to customers, thank you notes, etc to customers. It also must be mentioned that these mechanisms were not planned beforehand, they were just a natural evolution of the powerful ‘awe the customer’ culture they have (listen to Tony Hsieh’s interview about the culture).
On the flipside Zappos is also a Happy place to work at, which only reinforces how they treat their customers. So here then is the new formula: Happy employees + Happy customers = profitable business
Which brands do you love and also care about you?