Oftentimes I am asked how I achieved the success and recognition that I enjoy now. People want a magic bullet, a simple answer.
Well, here it is.
The secret to success is generosity.
It’s about being willing to give a piece of yourself, or offering an invaluable gift of your time and expertise, or extending your network to someone you care to have a relationship with. It’s about caring enough to making someone else successful first. It’s about connecting people who share passions and aspiration. It’s about empowering those around you through a simple word of encouragement and inspiration at a time when it matters the most. All without expecting something back.
Come to think of it, this answer applies to both building a personal brand, as well as a corporate brand.
As individuals, we are looking to create a network of friends who would offer their attention, time, and advice in the hour of need.
As consumers, we are looking for products and experiences we can brag about, as well as an ongoing support and attention from those we have commercial relationship with.
Either way, success is about infusing humanity and generosity into any relationship you build, personal or professional.
A lot of companies dismiss this simple, but invaluable insight. Strange, really, since this golden rule of business has proven itself over and over again. Multi-million dollar companies are being built because someone cared enough to generously introduce key partners and/or investors to each other. Small start-ups grow into multi-billion dollar businesses because employees generously care about customers and even go an extra mile for them, and, by doing so, build long-lasting advocacy for the brand. The list goes on.
How does this principle translate into tangible business results? According to Fred Reichheld, the author of “The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth,” a 12% increase in brand advocacy, on average, generates a 2X increase in revenue growth rate, plus boosts market share. And since according to Gartner Inc., in just a few years, 89% of businesses in U.S. will compete mainly on service and fostering great customer experience, generosity needs to become a focus and an actual business practice.
Generosity to your partners, employees, customers, and communities around you as a whole needs to become the new business philosophy. Over the past decade, we industrialized everything we do, we automated whatever we could, and we created the world void of emotions and vested interest. However, the most successful businesses employ people who are emotionally invested, people who care deeply about the business and the role they play in its growth, people who give a damn about delivering the best customer service at every touchpoint and interaction.
Zappos is just one rare example of a brand that lives and breathes this approach. At a time when every business is trying to cut the amount of calls to their call centers, as well as their length, in order to reduce cost, Zappos is proud to set records for the longest calls ever (they boast 10-hour, 8-hour, and 6-hour calls). They want their customers to know that they care and that they will spend whatever time necessary to make them happy. Zappos randomly upgrades their customers’ shipping for free so that they can delight you in getting your packages earlier than expected. And they do it often. Any Zappos employee is ready and willing to go above and beyond their duty of selling you shoes, they’ve been knows to help customers find the closest pizza restaurants and more. In 2009 Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion, which was insane since Amazon sold the same products online for a lower price. What did Amazon buy? They bought a company that became the industry’s golden standard for customer care and customer experience management, the company that adopted generosity as a business practice.
Just like one builds personal relationships – spending time and effort supporting each other, one interaction at a time – businesses need to rethink their business philosophy and their approach to experience management. And that is hard to do because one’s time is limited and the network is vast. Therein lies the heart of the matter – how to build genuine relationships with people around you as you grow the network of stakeholders that are critical to your brand, either personal or corporate. To do it successfully you need to employ people who are passionate about your mission, put in place processes that allow meaningful communication and smooth execution internally, and implement the technology that will enable you to be successful at scale without losing your humanity.
On a personal level, make it your mission to make someone’s day brighter every single day.
On a company level, make it your mission to make someone’s experience with your brand delightful.
On tips on how to do the latter, take a look at Sprinklr’s latest edition of the Journal of Customer Experience.
Originally posted on Forbes