For companies as well as people, there are two roads to growth available. Do you go the extra mile and inspire people to buy what you’re selling, or do you try to trick them through the use of artifice and misdirection? Do you view a customer as an intelligent being whose spirit and intellect need to be engaged? Or are customers like cattle who need to be herded? Here are two examples that point to what the difference looks like.
[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]Photo courtesy of Alice Popkorn[/featured-image]
Following the timeless choice of “give me the bad news first”, let me point to the cable TV remote that often rests in your hand. Without looking at it, I am relatively certain of two things about both the remote itself, and how you use it:
- There is a button that says something like “On Demand”. It is the button that makes it easier to view movie rental options. The button is huge – dwarfing most of the other buttons. You rarely press it.
- There is another button that says “Mute”. It makes the television be quiet for a period of time. The button is tiny. You press it frequently.
It doesn’t take a genius to know why remotes that are “provided” (translation: forced on us) by the cable industry look this way. After all, when you order a movie they get paid, and when you mute a commercial you aren’t engaging with their paying advertisers. Evidently there is someone in the cable world who thinks “if we make the On Demand button bigger, maybe someone who means to mute a commercial will accidentally order ‘Gone With The Wind'”.
Does your cable provider inspire you? When you point to example of successful companies that you want your teams to emulate, how often do you point to one of those companies?
Now the good story..
How many of you know that some of the first highway maps were published by Michelin, the French tire company? Many of us are also familiar with their famous Michelin Guides which provide reviews on great restaurants and hotels. In the early days of auto travel, Michelin created these to get people out on the roads, driving on Michelin tires.
They didn’t say “how can we trick our customers into buying more tires?”. They asked “how can we inspire our customers to enjoy our tires?”. They empowered their customers. They gave them a reason to use their product and enjoy life in the process.
There are so many more examples like these two, and frankly the bad ones are probably what most immediately come to mind. But there are innumerable companies today who are doing good work, viewing their customers with respect, and working hard every day to inspire.
Hats off to them.