Tag Archives: happiness

Innovation starts with needs but it doesn’t end there

Businesses, either new or “me-too’s”, set out to fulfill a need in the marketplace. Whoever fills this need in a better way, usually is rewarded with profits for a long time. But, profits does not a sustainable company make. Though this particular story I’m about to tell you doesn’t talk about billions of dollars in revenue being evaporated, it does touch on the illusion of customer loyalty.

About 5 years ago, I started advising and then joined a celebrity baby clothing startup called Tuni&G which has a new line of newborn baby clothes for a boy.

If you’re not happy, I’m not happy

A few weeks ago we gave back some money to a long time client because they are not happy with our work. Thing is, I was already prepared to say: You know what, don’t worry about the rest of the outstanding balance. If you’re not happy, we’re not happy.

That’s all that matters.

It’s one thing to say that you aim to delight your customers/clients and make them happy, but it’s another thing to not be able to do it. It hurts when a client wants to move in a different direction because you didn’t exceed their expectations. These are the types of things that you don’t want happening. Don’t see happening.

All I could do is apologize and say: Sorry I let you down.

My client wasn’t expecting this type of behavior. Why?

Why ‘Delivering Happiness’ is a must-do


Making people happy is such a radical idea that it’s a sad thing to see when . That’s why . I’ve previously written about . Yet there’s still a lot of doubt around this ‘radical’ concept, see this Forbes article that asks:

When I see questions such as these I cringe. Well of course it is! Seriously, why would anybody want to work at a place that makes them unhappy? I understand answering this questions is a lot more complicated because it deals with human nature, but it really doesn’t have to be. Grab a pen and paper, an important idea is coming up…

A recent . According to a study by David Rand of Harvard: People who spend time with happy people are more likely to become happy themselves.

Think about that for a second. Is that something too complex to understand? Do we really need this type of research to understand something so human? No. We don’t really need this type of research to know that hanging out with happy people will makes us more happy. Or that making unhappy people happy makes us happier. It’s common sense!

And that’s not all. Even more telling is that sadness is twice as infectious as happiness. No surprise here either, as an unhappy customer is more likely to tell five people how much your product or services sucks as opposed to telling just one. And by the way, this also includes your employees. Their part of the equation too.

With so much at stake, why can’t we get our heads around that happiness is actually simple?

Here’s the problem: Organizations have a lot of ‘business sense’ but not a lot of ‘common sense’.

Simply understanding that happiness and sadness are contagious should be enough for any organization to treat their people and their customers with decency. Would you rather be know for spreading sadness than happiness? Didn’t think so!

The BIG idea is very simple then: make people happy. Why? Because if your employees are are happy then your customers will be happy. It’s a win-win scenario. Everyone is happy and it all originated from you. That’s what people will remember, trust me Smile

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On happiness and value innovation

I’ve been thinking about and pounding you in this blog with (also see ). I found out two things today, one is that I’m not the only one thinking about it, and, second that recent research says that in order for people to be happy they like to spend a certain amount of time on some activities.

Here are the so-called according to the research:

Don’t waste people’s time. Help them do more


The gap between what is right now and where others are become very obvious when you go from one extreme to another. This past week I spent a little time with a friend I’ve known since kindergarten as he just opened a restaurant in Mexico and I went over to see how he was doing. This is his second restaurant venture for him, his first one closed after a year and a half.

While I was there he was telling me how he’d just bought a new restaurant management software homemade in Mexico. The incentive for him was that the top Mexican restaurant chains, such as Sanborn’s, also claimed to use the same software to manage their operation so in his eyes it was good decision to buy. Nonetheless he asked me if I could give it a test drive to see if it was worth the buy…

Before I dig in I just want to say that with any kind of business if you have pitiful customer support you are in a whole lot of trouble no matter how great your product or service is. With that in mind, here we go…

What you see in the picture above is restaurant management software made by Nationalsoft. The software is still delivered in a package, the serial number is taped on the inside (post it note inside the CD) which registers a single computer. The software is less than 15 MB and takes less than a minute to install. Feels like you’re back at the end of the 90’s huh? Wait it gets better!

If a user loses their password (which did happen) they have to call support who then has them create a .dat file which they then have to send back to support by email so they can ‘do something to it’ to unblock it. After support does something to the file, they’ll send it back to the customer so he may add it to a folder and overwrite the previous one. Are you kidding me!? What happened to the ‘forgot password’ link that is not a default setting in any kind software?

If these people were doing business in the US they would be out of business. But wait, it gets even better…you have to pay them to get the software unblocked.

A modern software company not only provides support by phone but also provides customers with online resources such as FAQ, forums or wiki with answers to common problems. Seems Nationalsoft forgot to add this to their checklist because they’re nowhere to be found. Ironically they do have a Twitter account and a Facebook Fan page! None of which are used as customer support touch points. Promote first, serve later right?

There’s more but I think I’ve provided you with enough information to see how frustrated I was when I was seeing this happen before my eyes. The way this software company is designed to operate is to deliberately waste their customers time, not to help them get going as fast as possible.


Signs that you’re behind the curve

Businesses in Mexico still operate by the logic of ‘forcing customers to do what I want them to do’ not ‘I make it easier for my customers to do what they want to do’. The result of operating by this logic is that people who may be interested in your product or service have been programmed to expect ‘below average service’, they expect to be treated like crap. They put more obstacles in place for the customer, never taking into account that the customer is a human and therefore ignoring the fact that humans do make mistakes. In a world where software is as ubiquitous as water, the days of bloated software are over. Today every piece of software (including websites) are designed for humans, not robots. As an example see Facebook’s platform, which now 500 million people use, it epitomizes software designed for making social interaction as simple as possible.

Point: Design your operation so that every interaction your customer has with you helps him do more by making it simple. You’ll not only have happy customers but also angry competitors. Here’s how to do it:


Create barriers to entry not barriers to use

Barriers to entry is what you do to make it difficult for competitors to compete with you (like doing everything in your power to make your customers happy). Barriers to use (such as having weak customer support, no online Q&A, making customers pay because they lost their password) is what you do to impede customers from getting on with it and start using your products, and if all goes well they’ll be very happy and tell their friends about it.

Anticipate human stupidity

Humans make mistakes, in the online world it becomes even more obvious because everything they do online has to be done through a digital interface. As software has evolved from being used exclusively used on the desktop to be used on the web, it’s become important to focus on designing your software to anticipate the fact that humans need things to be spelled out for them just like children, therefore making it easier for them to do what they want to do. For example humans will also forget things, including passwords, so make sure you cover the basics.

Learn how Zappos treats it’s customers

No seriously I’m being honest. If you want to make competitors really angry and therefore put them in a disadvantage, focus your efforts on making your customers really happy by actually giving a damn about them.  That’s Zappos secret weapon Smile


What do you think, is making customers happy an unconventional strategy?

Delivering happiness: Not business as usual

A few days ago I wrote about how . They’ve designed their business model around the concept of ‘happiness’ and have made it clear that the customer IS their business. The idea is driven that by making their employees happy it further drives customer happiness. It’s common sense but we, as consumers, can’t really say that other businesses look after our well being.

But what about pre-Zappos, is there another business that does business to deliver happiness?

Enter hotelier Chip Conley. In the video above he talks about how he designed his business model based on happiness. He talks about how he was inspired, to question the truth that businesses were made to profit, by a vietnamese woman named Vivian whom he met after he bought the motel where she worked as a maid. After noticing that Vivian did her work with joy, he began to question: How can someone find joy in brushing toilets for a living?

Because of her attitude towards service. She felt her job was to make not only guests happy but also her fellow employees. Sound familiar?

Like I mentioned on my previous post:

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?

Well as you can see from the above talk, Zappos isn’t a one time phenomenon and business can be driven by ‘happiness’. What’s needed is a change in mindset, that profit is result of two forces:

Happy employees + Happy customers = profitable business

Let me know what you think.

For brands who care about you, actions speak louder than words

“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 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?

The Customer IS their business

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 .

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 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 ).

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?