7 Lessons from the Best Customer Oriented Organizations

1. Make them feel special – Learning from Jetblue

Jetblue is one of the top airlines in the US that has built an excellent rapport with its travelers. One of the things that JetBlue’s founder did in the initial days was to travel in the airline at least once a week as a flight attendent to meet his customers directly. This gesture not only made sure that the employees served the customers in the correct way, but also made the customers feel special by having the CEO of a big company directly talk to them.

In an article in Inc.com, a veteran entrepreneur recounts his experience with JetBlue.

“Hi,” he said, “my name is Dave Neeleman, and I’m the CEO of JetBlue. I’m here to serve you this evening, and I’m looking forward to meeting each of you before we land.” [..] I just assumed he’d be sitting quietly in one of the front rows. I certainly didn’t expect him to be working as a flight attendant.

[quote]Lesson: Have your top executives periodically connect with your end customers and look to get direct feedback as well as make the end users feel special. [/quote]

2. Always be there to help your customers – Learning from Rackspace

Rackspace is one of the leaders in web hosting and cloud computing. They are in a very competitive marketplace as data centers around the world have looked to commoditize the sector. However, Rackspace has still emerged as a leader in the category.

One of the successes behind Rackspace is its devotion to customer helpdesk that is accessible at any time of the day. Unlike many other customer help desks, the advice is not mainly generic and its service could be a model on how to run helpdesks. At a time when companies are trying to hide their customer help desks as much as possible in their websites, Rackspace makes it very prominent and looks to wow its customers with the instant support.

[quote]Lesson: Look to instantly solve your customer’s problems and value your customer’s time.[/quote]

3. Performance matters – Learning from Google

There were 100s of search engines, when Google entered the market. But, Google still won the game. One of the things that always set apart Google was its fanatical devotion to performance. They looked to optimize every millisecond and work hard in every aspect to improve relevance. With just these two things, they beat the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft who were busy trying to overload their customers with features.

The performance was even more critical for Google to win the battle in Maps and Gmail where its snappy interface with lightning fast interaction made it a no match for its competitors.

[quote]Lesson: Try to look at your performance of your products and constantly try to improve the performance. That wins your customers more than any set of features.[/quote]

4. Keep it simple – Learning from South West

South West airlines is an aberration in an industry that is populated most by companies that are constantly loss-making and hated by their customers. They have had decades of profits without every going bankrupt or getting significant support from the regulators.

The strength of South West is in its customer service that always looks to keep things simple. Right from the routes they fly (mostly point-to-point instead of the hub & spoke model of other major airlines) to the fares that are very transparent and easy to understand.

[quote]Lesson: Keep your products and services really simple for the customers.[/quote]

5. Always look to save your customer’s wallets – Learning from Amazon

In the dot-com crash in 2000, thousands or e-retailers were killed and every one thought e-commerce is dead. But, then one major organization survived through it all. The secret of Amazon and its CEO Bezos lies in attempting to save every penny of their customers.

Amazon cut the prices of books dramatically and has also tried to save their customers in shipping. With Kindle it went another step and brought a great degree of equalization in prices. What Amazon does that is hard to replicate by its competitors, its devotion to efficiency that brings the best value of money to its customers. By dramatically improving the efficiency of the supply chain, it allowed its customers to buy more for the same amount.

[quote]Lesson: Constantly look for ways to save every dollar of your customer’s wallets.[/quote]

6. Go above and beyond – Learning from Zappos

Zappos, the leading online store for shoes, has made customer-focused culture as their main mission. What it does is always go above and beyond in every available opportunity. Thus, when it says it will deliver a product in 4 days, it works hard to deliver it under 2 days.

The company also constantly tries to wow their customers with surprise gifts and establish emotional connection with the customers.

[quote]Lesson: Go beyond your promise and always attempt to beat the expectations.[/quote]

7. Pay attention to the details – Learning from Apple

In the late 1990s Apple was just inches away from going into oblivion when its long time foe, chose to invest in it. But, in just a decade Steve Jobs built it into one of the world’s best brands that is sought after by customers around the world.

The secret to Apple’s success is its attention to details in its products – from the power socket in the Mac to the curvature in the iPhone. That separated it from the 100s of others in the hardware devices market. By fanatically paying attention to details in its products it could deliver the best value for its customers. Steve Jobs kept his promise and 80% of the products he launched in this decade  became blockbusters.

[quote]Lesson: There is no better way to serve the customer than to deliver products that just works.[/quote]

Balaji Viswanathan

Balaji Viswanathan

Balaji Viswanathan is the founder of Agni Innovation Labs that helps startups and small businesses with their marketing and management strategy. He has been blogging for the past 8 years on technology, finance and business related topics.

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