After studying hundreds of forward-thinking organizations and leaders, I’ve observed six actions that build companies that show up as “make-mom-proud” companies: meaning that they grow, by taking actions in their business congruent to those valuable life lessons we all learned as kids.
These actions are explored in my upcoming book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? The ‘Make Mom Proud’ Standard For How to Treat Your Customers, but I share them with you here as a peek into the contents of this new book — established to provide you with a new set of tools to simplify and advance your customer experience and culture transformation
Here are the six common actions, often bravely undertaken, that you will see throughout the book. They earn genuine and caring bonds between employees, customers, and companies — and earn ardent admirers and organic business growth. Customers become the engine that grows the business
1. Actions for Hiring and Development Set the Tone.
Make-mom-proud companies take deliberate and well-orchestrated actions to hire people whose values and behaviors are in sync with their own. Pal’s Sudden Service, a drive-through restaurant based in Tennessee with twenty-six locations, enlists a 60-point psychometric survey to determine whether the teenagers, who will deliver food to your drive-in window or make your burgers, will sync with the values of the company and the team they will join. These employees then receive more than 120 hours of training and ongoing mentoring. Pal’s turnover is one-third the industry average, and they have lost just seven general managers in thirty-three years. Pal’s enjoys one of the highest revenues per square foot in the quick-serve restaurant industry. CEO Thom Crosby connects this success to the company’s teams, and how they are hired and developed.
2. Human and Mindful Actions Create Joy.
Make-mom-proud companies provide opportunities that enable their people to take spirited actions and to be authentic in their gestures and behavior. First Direct Bank took the action to have a human available for customer service every day, 24/7. And the humans you reach have your back, and permission to do what’s right for you. Every person whom customers reach is trusted to change processes, procedures, and policies to improve their situation. Ninety-two percent of First Direct customers say that they would recommend the bank to someone else.
3. Acts of Trust Are Necessary.
Lemonade Insurance puts trust first in the manner in which they fulfill member claims. On the Lemonade app, members chat with Lemonade’s bot, AI Jim, who asks about what caused their claim. Next, “he” asks them to sign the honesty pledge on the app — a vow made not only to Lemonade, but also to the other members who benefit from fairness in reporting, claims, and payments. Finally, this oh-so-smart and mom-like company, via the persona of AI Jim, asks customers to look him in the eye and record a video oath with the reason for the claim. On Lemonade’s transparency blog, where it freely shares its performance, it was noted that Lemonade has captured 27 percent of policyholders who are newcomers to insurance in their current NewYork market area. There is power in the attraction of truth and trust.
4. Clarity of Purpose Actions Show the Way.
REI generated an estimated 6.7 billion media impressions as it fearlessly closed its doors to encourage everyone to #OptOutside on Black Friday. The #OptOutside movement was a reflection of REI’s clarity of purpose, which is dedicated to being passionate about the outdoors and being committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation. Starting with the simple question “How do we want to show up during the holidays?” REI’s purpose-inspired customers with this action heralded the world over.
More than seven hundred companies banded together in REI’s movement, and hundreds of state parks offered incentives to get people outside and moving on Black Friday. Financially, REI continues to grow, while its comparable competitors are struggling. Like REI, research proves that organizations who lead with clarity of purpose and deliver on that purpose can outperform the market by more than 350 percent.
5. Acts of Fairness Earn Word of Mouth and Growth.
Virgin Hotels decided to act with fairness by eliminating “nickel and diming” at their hotels. There is no charge for Wi-Fi. “Bandwidth is a right, not a revenue stream,” Virgin communicates to its customers. You also won’t get dinged for room service fees or add-on service charges. And there are no fees for early or late check-in. What’s getting them the most word of mouth and buzz is their “street pricing” on minibar items. They charge you in the room what you’d pay at the corner market.
“We shouldn’t feel like ‘we’ve got you,’” says CEO Raul Leal in rebuffing fees customers often feel imprisoned by at other hotels. After only its first year of business, the Virgin hotel in Chicago was named the number one hotel in the United States by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
6. “High Road” Actions Earn Love, Admiration, and Advocacy.
The Columbus Metropolitan Library took the action to get rid of late fees. Its objective is to help kids meet their summer reading goal, not worry about that ten-cents-a-day fee. The first major urban library in the United States to do this, its action focuses the organization back to its mission. There is a bit of tracking involved with the return policy: you’re asked to get that book back in 28 days, which is reasonable. Automatic renewal has been put in place so that instead of calling your book late, it is renewed back to you. Because of this act and many others, the Columbus Metropolitan Library is one of the most progressive and acclaimed libraries in the United States.
In our lives, we remember the companies, the people, and the times when we were honored as a friend, as a partner, as a customer. Two-way trust, open and honest communication, and fearless sharing are cornerstones of the relationships that come to mean the most to us.
These feelings hold just as true in both our personal and business relationships. These foundational behaviors we learned as kids stay with us all of our lives. Perhaps that’s why they are so important as we evaluate the companies and people we want to stay in contact with and do business with.