Enriching the Lives of Customers and the Rise of Customer Capitalism

By Bill Cushard, Executive Director, Partner Practice Owner, ServiceRocket

What if you could work with a service provider who loves its customers? What if you could work at an organization that puts you in a position to enrich the lives of your customers? Would you?

I would. On both accounts.

There are many companies like this. They lead their industries in customer loyalty. The publicly-traded ones beat the market by more than three times. The private companies earn valuations that lead their categories. All because companies like these embrace the principles of customer capitalism and the primary purpose of a business: to enrich the lives of customers.

Fred Reichheld, creator of the net promoter system (NPS), Bain & Company Fellow, and author of the new book, Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers, is back to reinvigorate the practice of treating customers so well they cannot help but share their experiences with others.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Fred Reichheld and his co-authors Darci Darnell and Maureen Burns on Helping Sells Radio, which led me to three Ah Ha moments that simultaneously changed the way I think about purpose and confirmed what I already know.

Ah Ha Moment #1: The ultimate purpose of a business
The ultimate purpose of any business is to enrich the lives of customers. This statement appears antithetical to the broadly accepted purpose of a business enterprise, which is to maximize profits or otherwise maximize shareholder value. But as the authors point out, when we enrich the lives of customers, we create a multiplier effect of financial results. Why?

Customers who we enrich buy more from us.

They don’t buy from elsewhere. When they bring their friends with them, they also don’t buy from elsewhere.

There is a great story in the book in which Steve Grinshaw, CEO of Caliber Collision (they repair damaged cars), talks about purpose. “People work hard for a paycheck, they work harder for a good boss, and they work hardest for a meaningful purpose. Our purpose is to help get each customer’s life back in order—to restore the rhythm of their lives.”

What could be a higher purpose for a collision repair company than to help their customers, who just got in a crash, get their lives back in order?

Our mission at ServiceRocket is to aim to be the single most reliable partner in the acceleration of your growth. We don’t use the word “purpose” or the word “customer” in that mission statement, but it does reflect how we choose to enrich the lives of our customers.

Ah Ha #2: Love customers
“Great businesses love customers,” said Fred Reichheld, and I admit I was hesitant to accept this language. Co-author Darnell reminded me, "NPS, when implemented correctly, reveals how consistently a company lives up to its purpose of loving customers." Co-author Burns, a former investment banker, added, “I can’t go to my financial services clients and talk about love.” Not until she’s examined the numbers.

If they can embrace loving customers, so can I.  

Our director of customer success, Mel Bilge, recently shared a screenshot of a customers’ message thanking her for solving a major problem. The customer said, “You have made my week” and “I cannot express what a relief” this solution provides me.

My response to Mel about that screenshot was, “That felt good.”

If that is loving your customers, I’ll take it.

Ah Ha #3: Put people in a position to enrich the lives of customers
“Great businesses love customers and put people in positions to love customers,” says Reichheld. Enriching the lives of customers is “the only thing that inspires top flight employees, and the only way a company can be great is if it can attract and retain great people.”

At ServiceRocket, one of the core values that informs how we do business is “Delight the Customer”. When we talk about our mission, we also mean career growth.

We have had Rocketeers start as undergraduates, who now serve as executives and join with little experience and become experts in their fields. Other Rocketeers grow, leave our company, and boomerang back because they were driven by the impact and positive work culture we have nurtured over the past two decades.

We believe that building a career at ServiceRocket is about doing work that matters. That benefits our customers as well.

Embracing customer capitalism
According to Reichheld, Darnell and Burnes, the next evolution of capitalism is the era of customer capitalism, which embraces the principles of loving customers, honoring teams, and respecting investors. Principles we live at ServiceRocket.

“The exemplars of customer capitalism do not attempt to extract maximum profits from every customer and employee to boost share prices and dividend streams. Instead, they focus on the vital role of kindness, generosity, and love in dealing with their customers and employees.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

In addition to leading ServiceRocket’s Partner Practice, Bill serves on the board of the Customer Success Leadership Network, a non-profit organization charged with advancing leaders in the customer success industry. Bill hosts the world's longest-running customer success podcast, Helping Sells Radio and is the author of The Art of Agile Marketing: A Practical Guide to Implementing Kanban and Scrum in Jira and Confluence. Bill, who apparently doesn’t sleep, is an avid long distance runner and wicked good skier.

Put customers before profit.

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