Grow or die. How’s that for simple?

Wilting A business cannot remain stagnant for long. You either grow or you wither up and die.   Now remember that grow doesn’t necessarily mean you get bigger.  Maybe you just get more efficient and more profitable.  But somewhere, there needs to be growth. 

Bob Bloom (former US Chairman and CEO of Publicis Worldwide) has created a free e-book called Bloom on Growth.  In the e-book, he’s pulled some money quotes out of his new book, The Inside Advantage, which will be available in early November.

Here’s my favorite.  Probably because I’ve been preaching this for eons.

“You can deliberately influence your customer’s entire experience with your firm or you can simply let it happen.”

We all know this is true.  We feel it when we walk into an Apple Store or fly Southwest.  So why do you think most businesses do not do this for their own business?

  • Is it too hard?
  • Too expensive?
  • Too time consuming?
  • Do they not know how?

What do you think?

Related posts:
~ A guidebook to reinventing the customer experience
~ Brandingwire: The coffee shop
~ Knock down the barriers

13 comments on “Grow or die. How’s that for simple?

  1. Lewis Green says:

    Drew,

    I base my answer on client experiences and my gut, not very scientific. But I think the answer is both complex and simple, the old “I voted for it before I voted against it” waffle.

    Mostly,I don’t think most employees care about the customer experience. And I don’t think most CEOs and COOs deliver the customer experience message enough nor do they convince employees that it matters. Since CEOs seldom touch customers, what they believe doesn’t really matter if employees don’t also believe it.

  2. I’d have to agree with Lewis. It seems that in this day and age, the main goal is to increase the profit margin. Raise prices, cut costs, and forget about everything that happens in between. That’s where these companies like Southwest and Apple prevail, and create loyalty that cannot be measured. I’d say it’s fueled by greed.

  3. Mike says:

    I think the reason more companies aren’t deliberate about affecting the customer experience is that they are preoccupied with the measurable objectives. Too many leaders think of managing the client expereience as one of the “soft skills” and don’t place enough value on it.

    I believe most employees do care and would deliver a 1st class customer experience, but they aren’t focused on it because the leadership isn’t focused on it. At the end of the day, this, like all company values, must be lived and valued by top management to become part of the company’s fabric.

  4. It’s very interesting to read your comments individually but also collectively.

    What I am wondering, even those at first blush some of your comments conflict, if you aren’t all right.

    Would employees care about customer service if they were encouraged/supported in doing so. And what wanes first…an individual’s interest in delivering great service or leadership’s ability to be in touch with the front line employees and customers?

    Do you believe most people come to a new job wanting to deliver great service and then the company/leader’s apathy beats it out of them, or do they arrive uninterested and the leadership’s lack of inspiration keeps them at that point?

    Drew

  5. CK says:

    One of your best headlines. It’s made me giggle a ton of times (no lie). Love it.

  6. markus says:

    It’s made me giggle a ton of times..

  7. Bill Gammell says:

    Drew,

    Excellent post, as usual. I’d have to call it a lack of passion. Playing off of your bloomin’ metaphor, you can really tell someone that has plants just for background purposes and someone that has a passion for growing the biggest pumpkin or growing just the right plants to provide a haven for hummingbirds. It shows.

    Usually those that have plants just to provide some subtle background atmosphere usually end up ignoring the plants, which in turn die and plastic plants from Wal-Mart’s clearance isle become the new background. Without passion, businesses also have their plastic plants. Plastic plants in the business world could be akin to automated telephone menus, frontliners that strategically avoid a customer’s futile attempts for “service” and everything else that is only meant by some passionless companies to be background. The problem is that in the customer experience, there is no background. Long live passion.

  8. CK — always glad to put a smile on your face!

    Drew

  9. Bill,

    Passion is a magic ingredient, isn’t it. It propels us beyond what is expected. It makes the fact that it “isn’t our job or our department” a non-issue. And it inspires an employee to behave like they owned the joint.

    So…if a company that lacks passion recognizes their shortcoming, how would they go infusing passion back into their culture?

    Drew

  10. Bill Gammell says:

    Drew,

    I think I am falling right into your “trap”. Let me tell you about a company called Rackspace.com, a managed web hosting company out in San Antonio. They went through this exact problem.

    A few years back, Rackspace was a company that was mediocre and had a definite passion problem. Then brilliantly during a meeting one day, they found their focus or their reason for existing – providing customers with “fanatical support”. As this strategy developed, they started to take the “fanatical support” idea further and further. As time went one, those employees that had passion in their lives in some other area flourished with this new found strategy for passion within the company while those that lead lives of “quite desperation” quickly opted themselves out of the now fanatical and uncomfortable environment and silently drifted on to something else. Today, Rackspace seeks out those that have passion for something in their lives (I almost moved down their and became a “racker” myself). If Rackspace can instill passion for managed web hosting, I think any company has a chance.

    The idea is to mix strategy (the map of what you are looking for/your reason to exist as a company) and passion (the vehicle to get you there) and the magic will happen. You might even call it “where passion and strategy collide”, just to throw something out off the top of my head :).

  11. Bill,

    No trap, I promise!

    Your story is a great one. One aspect of it that I really love is how a company’s passion impacts its employees. When a company has a clear vision of why they exist — they will attract “right” employees like bees to honey and repel those that are not a good fit.

    It’s the best way to screen/grow employees that I have ever seen.

    Hmmm, where strategy and passion collide. Kind of catchy!

    Drew

  12. Maybe they’re too concentrated on something else entirely. Like generating profit for example or paying off debts. With other responsibilities, they might not give much value to customer service. Maybe they go by the “If you build it, they will come” kind of flow.

  13. Jen,

    You very well could be right. It’s tough, as a business owner, to divide your attention among the many demands.

    But it seems to me that whether you are focused on profitability, debt reduction or any other aspect of your business — you’d be hard pressed not to tie that goal to customers and repeat business and referrals etc.

    In my opinion, at the core, if you don’t worry about your customers you probably won’t have too much else to worry about either!

    Drew

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