Book Review "Simply Brilliant" and more about customer experience, businessmodels and employee satisfaction

First of all I wish everybody a great, creative and customer oriented 2017!
I started the year great, in St Anton, where there is lot's of sun (but not so much snow). I traveled here by train this time, so I had time to read again. I do like to share again some of these reads.

Me in the new flexenbahn in St Anton am /A

This time I did not read a direct ecommerce or digital marketing related book but a book about doing business in a new way, about examples of traditional companies that have changed the way they do business. The book is called "simply brilliant" and the subtitle of the book is: How great Organizations do ordinary things in extraordinary ways and it is explicitly not a book about the sillicon valley type of businesses, but how traditional organisations are also able to change and succeed.

It is a feel good and inspirative book! It made me very enthousiastic, so many nice things to do for all types of organisations!
After reading the book, you really want to use the things experiences you have just read. I'd like to share a few insights from the book below.

The time of doing business and just 'being average"is officially over. This phenomenon is being played out across the economy and around the world. The problem with traditional organisations and brands is not that they are broken, it is that they are boring. And boring organisations don't lend themselves to runaway success. 
We are living in a new world. Customers no longer accept an 'okay job'. It is being exceptional or nothing. It is about "impress me, surprise me, do something I will remember. That is what customers want, that is what organisations have to deliver.

Now after reading these sentences in the beginning of the book, I immediatly had to think about this model shown below. It is from another book, but it perfectly fits in this story. The customer experience journey model.

Customer Experience Model

And it also perfectly fits in what I wrote before. Things move away or already have moved away from traditional branding and it is rapidly going to an experience model.

Picture from the book "simply brilliant" with at the background St Anton's mountains (view from Gampen restaurant). Of course I did all of these slopes, backwards, I was just having a small reading pause :)

The book is filled with examples about how important employee satisfaction, education and culture is for commercial succes. For example Metro Bank, an unconventional bank, that does banking completely different then what you traditionally expect. Metro bank realises that "Everything we do either helps or hurts the brand. Everything. If a sign is crooked if one of our people does not smile, if we don't maintain a sense of urgency, then we are hurting the message. We have to make customer service fun for our people. People won't do it if it is not fun, they need to feel proud to work for Metro Bank every day!

One investor spoke about Metro Bank: every person I meet here, is like a marketing machine for Metro bank. I went to a branche opening last year and I thought, this is my favorite company to visit because it is fun. And if it is fun for me, as an investor what must it be like for cusotmers?.
Metro’s method is to pin down all of the pain points the current banking process creates for its customers, and rectify them. It is all about employee satisfaction and customer feedback.
Read more about it for example at this or this website.

Companies that manage to rise above the pack and stand alone, that win big in fiercely competitive times, are those that create a one of a kind presence and deliver a one of a kind performance that is not just a little better than what other companies do. They do things that other organisations can't or won't do.

An example of company that does things totally different is SOL in Finland. SOL is a cleaning company but they completely changed the way how cleaners work. It is based at a value proposition that applies to employees first and customers second.
Nothing in this company is routine. Kill routine before it kills you is the strive.

With SOL cleaning is LOL

SOL headquarters is in a renovated film studio in the middle of Helsinki. Everything in the building is about culture and at thursdays SOL offers free soup to employees and everybody who cares to drop in. SOL was started as a small business unit in one of the oldest family business companies of Finland. The new CEO (daughter of the founder, Liisa Joronen) had unorthodox ideas about frontline employees and their capacity to make decisions and govern themselves.
This totally clashed with her father's conventional approach but she could continue to try SOL in a separate business unit.

So what is different?

"Our main goal is to change how cleaners work, to let them use their brains as well as their hands".

SOL cleaners work during the day, when offices, labs and hospitals are filled with people. Traditional cleaning services were offered only at nights when everyone went home. 
Employees wear bright yellow and red suits, which gives them some sense of pride and professionalism and this makes it impossible for clients to ignore the presence of the cleaners.

Liisa Joronen realized that if her collegues showed up when their clients were on the job and conducted themselves in ways that demonstrated their smarrts and commitment clients would ask them to do more. And because local offices and frontline teams were authorized to pitch business and cut deals, cleaners essentially acted as sales people. They were not just polishing floors but landing business as well.
As a result, for example hospitals that first engaged SOL to clean rooms or change sheets, now use its people as nursing assistants, helping patients to get to their tests and notifying doctors of emergencies.
SOLdoes things that its competitors cannot or will not do. The results speak for themselves. SOL went from 2000 employees to more then 11.000 in two decades. Interested in more about SOL, read more here.

Pal's restaurants

The book is filled with great examples but one of the greatest is the story about Pal's, a fastfood chain in the US, I had never heard of it, but I now really, really want to visit them sometime. 
Pal's is not a regular fast food chain. Everything they do is totally different then you expect. 
They even have public training sessions for other companies, where they tell how to do unconventional business, and what their secret for success is. 

What makes Pal's so special?

Everything at Pal's is it's devotion to speed and accuracy. 
Pal's make the lives of it's customers a little easier. They are in such a hurry, they have so much else to do, Pal's helps them get on with other things in their lives more fast by serving food very fast and very accurate. Besides that Pal's treats it's customers like adults. There is no suggested selling at Pal's. No "would you like a drink with that" or other suggested extra's.

Pal serves the order four times faster than the second fastest quick serve restaurant in the US. 

Pal has "secret" menu items to surprise loyal guests to make it fun to go to the restaurant.
Pal's has a level of customer loyalty that is off the charts for the quick service field. Pal's customers visit its restaurants an average of three times a week, McDonalds customers visit it's restaurants only an average of three times per month.

But the most interesting thing in Pal's is the way they hire people, how they train them, how they listen to customers, how they constantly learn and share idea's with other companies.

New employees get 120 hours of training, before they are even allowed to work on their own and they must be certified in all the jobs they do. Grilling burgers, making fries, everything requires a certificate. 
Then everyday on every shift in every restaurant a computer randomly generates the names of one or two employees, that need to be recertified. But don't fear this is in a fun way, in a pop quiz style. If they fail they can do it a again and again. Pal's teaches and coaches everyday. It's managers have to spend at least 10 percent of their time to teaching and coaching employees.

Pal's has assembled a master reading list for all the leaders in the company, 21 books and the CEO himself runs a bookclub to delve into the material with it's employees.

Turnover numbers at Pal's are extremely low. Employees are as loyal as their customers. In 33 years of operation only seven general managers have left the company voluntarily. Read more about this here at HBR's site.

Pal's CEO was asked  "what if you spend all this time and money on training and someone leaves?" The reply was simple and clear, Crosby (CEO) says : "what if we do not spend the time and money and they stay"?

There is much more in the book, but most important lessons are to think out of the box to strive to be the only, to listen to your customer's and solve their problems, to enhance in customer experience and to empower employees, to educate them and to make working fun!

It also indicates to me again how important a "customer experience index" and an "employee satisfaction index" is, preferably one per touchpoint!

Something like this example, I saw during a presentation a few weeks ago:

A customer experience index per touchpoint

Run your business like you own it. When you trust people to solve problems and make decisions, and then let them go, that's when the magic happens.


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