By Jamey Lutz—
You like to think that you’re immune to the stuff… oh yeah
It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough
You know you’re gonna have to face it
You’re addicted to love
In his 1985 smash hit Addicted to Love, former English rocker Robert Palmer swoons about the roller coaster ups and downs of romance. No doubt that love (or the pursuit thereof) can entice us to do some outlandish things, both virtuous and dishonorable. For instance, my mother tells me I nearly got expelled from kindergarten after attempting to hit one of my classmates on the head with a chair. My actions were apparently justified, however, as the rival boy had just planted a big fat smooch on the lips of my 5-year-old “girlfriend!”
When we hear or say the word “addiction,” it is generally interpreted in a much more dark and sinister way. For example, we all know drug and alcohol dependencies are serious social issues that nearly always leave terrible pain and devastation in their wake. These types of addictions are no laughing matter and most often require intense intervention.
However, how about the concept of productive addictions – habits or passions that when leveraged properly can work for us and not against us? Things like exercise, prayer/worship and community service come to mind. In his book Positive Addiction, William Glasser notes the numerous benefits of good addictions, including improved self-confidence, enhanced creativity, and better overall health.
For those of us knee deep in a corporate environment, what would positive addiction look like through the lens of the customer experience? What if your organizational culture literally caused customers to become brand addicts that were so enamored with your products and services that they wouldn’teven consider the competition? Don’t laugh… there are numerous companies across multiple industries who have positively addicted customers.
Think Harley Davidson, Amazon, Apple and Ritz-Carlton to name a few. So, here are a few ideas to get your addictive juices flowing, with the goal of cultivating addicted customers who can’t imagine life without you.
First, make sure your company has a set of core values that include a clearly articulated customer covenant. The covenant should always answer the question, “What does this organization stand for, and why should my customers care?” For example, Chick-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy continuously taught his growing team that, “We should always be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customer’s lives and the communities in which we serve.” Likewise, esteemed grocery store chain Publix notes in its mission statement that it is “passionately focused on customer value.”
Next, do everything possible to ensure your core values are internalized by your people each and every day. The old adage that “culture eats strategy for lunch” certainly rings true in this case. The heart and soul of every great organization begins with a culture that employees want to get behind… a purpose and a cause worthy of unbridled addiction. Note that customer addiction is always ushered in by employee addiction.
Daily huddles are fertile ground to constantly reinforce a company’s service commitment. By enlivening these service truths time and again, they become intricately woven into your cultural DNA. Formal service training that focuses on actual behavior change (see FPG.com) is also an essential means to differentiate your service experience from the competition.
Third, thoughtfully evaluate whether service excellence is properly embedded in your team’s performance management system. If employee compensation and other forms of recognition are disproportionately focused on sales outcomes or productivity gains versus actual service execution, you might be unintentionally marginalizing the driving force for service unleashed. Make the necessary organizational adjustments to ensure your reward strategies are in alignment with your customer-based core values.
Last but certainly not least, always provide your team with the proper resources and tools required to execute your service strategy. Assuming you’ve got each of the earlier steps covered, your team should already have the will to deliver service unleashed. Arming them with sufficient knowledge, technology, empowerment, and encouragement provides the way to bring your service vision to life.
So there you have it. A high-level blueprint for becoming a service provider your customers will gladly, and addictively, do business with again and again. Service unleashed is admittedly the road less traveled in business circles today. However, if you take time to study the truly world-class service paragons, you’ll discover the road less traveled is the same road that leads to extraordinary success.