The Courage to be Bold

August 10, 2011

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Have the Courage to be Bold 08-09-2011

August 9, 2011

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Hanifin Loyalty blog.

Is your company bold? Does your company have the courage to be bold? At the recent Customer Relationship Management Conference, Shaun Smith, author and partner, Smith & Co., spent an energizing morning talking to attendees about what defines a bold organization and how its boldness manifests itself in how it relates to customers, prospects and employees alike.

Bold firms share the following characteristics. They…

  • Stand Up – They know what it is they believe in;
  • Stand Out – They are remarkable and different;
  • Stand Firm – They build communities for employees and customers to create sustainability around their brand.

Why is it so important to be bold in any one of these three ways? It’s because “Purpose” is to be considered the fifth ‘P’ of marketing. Now more than ever, companies need a raison d’etre to stand out and be compelling for their customers and prospects.

Mr. Smith shared an example to illustrate each point:

Stand Up:
The main value of the Six Senses resort in Maldives is concern for the environment and for an exquisite customer experience. When guests arrive by seaplane, they are given a bag for their shoes in keeping with the “no news and no shoes” policy. There is no television or any sort of outside access because the purpose of this resort is luxurious relaxation. In respecting the environment, they are vigorously devoted to a recycling and reuse program. Fifty percent of profits they’ve made from their own purified water go directly to parts of the world where there is no access to fresh water. All this reinforces the brand message of “intelligent luxury.”

Stand Out:
Burberry stands out because it engages in infectious communication. They create “wow” in as many ways as possible in their customer experience. Their artofthetrench.com has 400,000 loyal customers who uploaded pictures of themselves onto the site. Also, they brought the masses to the runway by having 3D fashion show screening events, showing these same fashion shows real time on the internet and added the ability to order Burberry product from an iPad app.

Stand Firm:
Zappos “stands firm” in that they walk their talk. They are committed to their culture, not only with how they interact with their customers, but also how they engage with each other inside the company. Culture is so important to Zappos that if it appears during training that a new hire will not be a good cultural fit, they will give that person $2,000 and terminate the relationship. From real time engagement with customers on social platforms to quirky office meetings and recognition activities within headquarters, Zappos is able to continually reaffirm its corporate identity and stand firm as it recommits to its values.

Discussion questions:  What defines a ‘bold’ organization? Is the treatment of existing customers, prospective customers or employees most critical in building a ‘bold’ enterprise?

My post:

The reason this subject keeps repeating itself is due to the fact that most retail leaders continue to ignore the painfully obvious:  Bold approaches to service start with leaders with a bold commitment to exceptional employees.  Paraphrasing the brilliant approach at a bold (though non-retail) purveyor of extraordinary service, Ritz-Carlton:

  1. Have leaders who believe the vision in their hearts and model that belief with everything they say and do.
  2. Select the best employees and support them in every way
  3. Consistency and repetition of the core beliefs and values

You could also call this courageous leadership.  Courage to have, know and continuously strengthen your organization’s values and reason for being.  Courage to understand what it takes to be exceptional in your business – leaders and staff alike – and consistently hire and train for this.  Courage to never waver from either, despite any and all obstacles.  Stand up, stand out, and stand firm indeed!  So simple and yet so elusive.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full discussion at Retailwire.com:  Have the Courage to be Bold

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From Snooty to Friendly Luxury Service

February 27, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Snooty Attitude Tones Down at Luxe Boutiques 2/27/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

According to The New York Times, a quick glance at a man’s watch and shoes has been a common and effective tool for sizing up potential customers at designer boutiques. Working heavily on commission, a sales clerk gains invaluable insight into which shoppers to chase and which to ignore.

Such practices have also tagged clerks at high-end stores with a reputation for snootiness and all-out rudeness. But the Times notes that virtually overnight, the brutal recession has changed those attitudes to a “level of customer service rivaling that of Disney.”

MaxMara recently held employee seminars on enhancing the shopping experience “of anyone who walks through the front door,” and the article claims other stores “are making more effort to greet and engage.”

Putting the findings to a test, the Times reporter, Eric Wilson, went undercover. Donning an outfit described “if not poorly, then as plainly as possible in a sweatshirt, jeans and dog-walking shoes,” Mr. Wilson visited a string of boutiques along Madison Ave. in New York City.

For the most part, luxury boutiques passed the test with flying colors.

Discussion questions:  Do you think the snooty reputation at high-end stores has toned down given the recession or has it always been widely overblown? If there is a longstanding snooty attitude in high-end selling, is it in any way justified?

My post: 

Certainly many boutiques provide lousy service.  In the case of high-end stores, this is typically described as snooty and rude.  In lower-end stores it might be described as uncaring or non-existent.  Service in the past and present has more to do with the vision of the retailer and the people they hire to manager their stores and service their customers, than the current economics.

In today’s environment, retailers of all kinds are pushing like never before to go out of their way to be helpful, courteous, and welcoming.  This is particularly true in stores where the brand mission is service oriented to start with.   It is likely to be found where the brand typically stands for service and quality – a fairly common aspect of luxury brands.  The reporter’s example of lousy service in Gucci, however, proves that the people you hire to manage & staff your stores determine the service that will be offered.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13581

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