So you want to create a customer paradise that woos prisoners away from their familiar cells? Pay close attention to what my friend Wally said about how they do that at Brickman, a leading commercial landscape business.

We promote ownership of customer loyalty at all levels of the company…

Simple? Yes. Easy? No.  Two contrasting stories illustrate the difference:

  • Some time ago, I called United Airlines to resolve an issue.  (Full disclosure, Noonday is in United’s prison because of their frequent flier program.)  Well, I would have called them – except there are very few phone numbers with human beings listed on their website.  Instead, I had to send an email to an anonymous person who just might return the email (predictably explaining all of the reasons why the issue could not be resolved).  Not to be so easily deterred, I called the sales line (!) and eventually bluffed and buffaloed my way to a live human being ostensibly in customer service in the Philippines – who proceeded to cite the company line despite all good arguments to the contrary.  Needless to say, I wasn’t raving about the United service experience despite having 400,000+ lifetime miles under my belt.
  • My wife recently sent an email to Dan Bricklin, commonly referred to as the Father of the Modern Spreadsheet, about his fantabulous iPad app, Notetaker HD.  We really didn’t expect Dan, a legend in the software industry, to answer a simple question about app functionality.  Lo and behold, she had a short, polite answer in her box less than 24 hours later – simply signed “Dan.” That simple, personal gesture turned me from saying to my friends, “This is a great app – the one that made me buy an iPad” to “And can you believe the developer actually cares about customer questions and feedback?”  But maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.  He’s not only the owner but the author of the app. He has a whole different level of passion for his customers’ experience.

The principle is simple.  Owners and creators care more than (cheap) hired hands.  The question is, how do we get team members in our organizations to have the passion of ownership and authorship for our customers? Crack that code, and paradise can’t be too far behind.