When you think about a purchase, why do you buy from a particular brand? There are many factors that could impact the purchasing decision, but first and foremost, consumers turn to brands that offer exceptional customer experience. Whether you look at yourself as the brand, run an organization or even shape a community through economic development it begins by delivering a flawless experience.
Today’s biggest brands understand this well– Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon– put customer commitment front and center in their activities—something that has been well documented in a great paper called GAFAnomics.
A firm in Canada that has done it right in the past has been WestJet. I happen to be writing this article on one of their planes and have had a great experience chatting with one of the flight attendants. I even know her name, Megan. It is this type of friendly customer commitment that permeates their brand and makes you feel special. If you need proof that this company gets it, check out the Christmas marketing campaign they did a few years ago.
A person such as Taylor Swift is renowned for looking after her fans by delivering a flawless engagement experience. There is a great article on this by Saul Kaplan. It’s also true on a local level. For example, I frequent a great restaurant in my home town, Janet Lynn’s Bistro, because Nikki, Kevin and the staff treat me like Norm from Cheers. See the trend?
So an interesting question about economic and community development comes to mind using this service-based lens. Can you apply these principles to grow a community or ecosystem? Applying the GAFAnomics philosophy to a community would be fascinating. For example, the theory defines a customer not as somebody who has purchased from you but somebody who has engaged with you regardless of medium (online, social, in-person). The exchange of money does not equate to a customer. It is the exchange of engagement that dictates the definition of customer.
So building on that thought, if you are searching to invest in a community (say to setup a new plant or tech center) you will have your standard check list: raw materials, serviceable land, talent and other vital factors. But you know what? You will be motivated to locate your business in a community that provides you a ‘frictionless’ customer experience and makes you feel part of something bigger even though you haven’t ‘bought’ anything yet. You need to look no farther than the current examples of companies like PayPal choosing to re-direct investment away from some US jurisdictions who don’t provide this type of inclusive lens and experience.
When people invest in a community they look for a concierge service that ‘takes care of that for you’. A community that rallies around you when you step onto the ground is no different than the exceptional brands we talked about earlier in this article. An organization that focuses on the customer commitment and experience will outperform those that stumble.
When I was at AGFA and secured a large foreign direct investment, I experienced this service. I picked up the phone and called John Tennant (then CEO of Canada’s Technology Triangle) , David Johnston (then president of the University of Waterloo) and a number of other organizations and I was met with a response: “How can we help?” Yet, more than that, they didn’t just ‘triage’ me into the community, but stood with us over a 14-month negotiation period, helping to move this investment forward into our community.
Now, communities and firms tend to struggle with this important mindset change. This is aggravated further, because far too many organizations worry more about their operations versus ensuring a customer’s centric experience, even though tools are available to help such as those founded out of the Stanford to facilitate this change of perspective.
So whether you are a community working to attract businesses, a restaurant or even a pop star, this element of customer experience and engagement is imperative. Because quite frankly, I’m confident we all like to engage with both people and organizations where they know your name.
Jeff Nesbitt helps organizations breathe life into big ideas. As the Founder of Culture Outreach, a boutique firm that fosters an innovation mindset to help organizations realize productivity and revenue growth, Jeff provides practical and pragmatic strategies that ensure growth opportunities are maximized. To learn more about Jeff, click here.