Purpose, Passion, and People Make Businesses Beloved

ORLANDO, Fla. -- To build a company’s culture around the customer, an organization must focus on purpose, passion, and people, said Jeanne Bliss in her keynote address today at Nuance Conversations 2008.

The DNA of beloved companies really is built around these three pivots—purpose, passion, and people, says Bliss, author of Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action.

"Memory creation is the currency of the brand of beloved companies," she says. "They enable people to deliver a memory at the point of contact that is so critical that that becomes what brings people back."

For Bliss, managing partner of CustomerBliss, this branding process begins with clarity of purpose and direction.

"Walk around your company and ask ten people what the purpose of your business is to customers and find out how many different answers you get," Bliss says. "So purpose [is] really important."

"Beloved companies also have passion," Bliss says. "They’re driven by being in a business that starts with the gut in your belly and driving passion forward…And finally, people. The people in the organization of the beloved companies…it’s about really connecting on a human basis with them."

According to Bliss, the experience a company delivers to people is a reflection of its organizational experience. "It’s how well we work together in our sandboxes," she says.

"But we know what it’s like: marketing is doing their own thing, and sales is doing their own thing, and service is doing there own thing," she continues. "And what we deliver to the customer is our ability to work together inside that sandbox. How much we connect the metrics, the motivation, and the mechanics is what the customer feels. And the companies that do that well know that they need to put aside their separate goals and objectives and create this experience for the customer."

More often than not, the different silos within a company fail to work together in the sandbox, Bliss says.

"Most of us are delivering a defaulted customer experience and that’s the outcome of each of the parts of the operation doing their own thing," she says. "What we need to move to in many, many companies, just to get to the stairwell of desire, is reliability."

A way to counter this disunity, Bliss says, is by doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way—something that creates customer memory and desire.

"Reliability is about more customers being able to tell your story; building a brand that customers want is about them being able to see what they get from you that they don’t get from anybody else," she says. "And that’s the key to this. But it’s a lot of work. And then, ultimately, we move toward desire."

And for Bliss, creating desire is key to building a business. "Desire is what I call the Cha-Ching emotion because it’s what builds your business," Bliss says. "When you build desire, people will remember your business and they will tell other people about it and they will want to come back."

Bliss also provided examples of five companies—Genentech, Zappos.com, Wegmans, Rackspace Hosting, and Baptist Health Care—that truly connect with customers in extraordinary ways.

"They’ve been able to hardwire in humanity and not [lose] sight of the importance of the personal connection in delivering corporate outcome," she says. "Belief, passion, people, purpose—it’s what drives these companies."

"In this economy, what we’re finding is that the companies that are connecting on a human basis—at a retail level, at a call center level—are the companies that people are remembering and even if they can’t buy as much. The connections that you’re giving with customers right now is what’s going to pay you back when the economy starts coming back," Bliss says. "So this is super-critical. It’s humanizing the customer and humanizing that point of interaction."

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