Are your employees corporobots? If so, you've not only dehumanized them -- you've stripped your company of precisely what gives it the possibility of creating an enduring advantage.
In an economy that even when producing products is mainly based on service -- internal and external, domestic, and foreign, up and down the organization ladder, and across departments, which does not mean that for collaboration to occur we need to put everyone in cubes; collaboration is an attitude -- customer conversations equal execution.
Service, which is also the way you build and deliver a product, is part of what differentiates your business from another.
This is an issue if you're customer-averse, in which case, you end up being at the mercy of the lowest price, or most ubiquitous distribution to be part of the consideration set. The second case means that instead of customers, it's distributors that beat you up on price.
Do more than, not more of
Because service is not overhead, it's what makes what you do valuable. It's what makes a business person part of the community. Passion for design and craftsmanship is the reason why I love products made in Italy, for example, especially articles of clothing that serve me for years.
The other day, when I cleared up my closet for the seasonal change, I came across and admired again the long deep burgundy velvet Ferré skirt I bought probably thirteen years ago. It is made so well that it held through time. The line is so classic to be timeless.
That skirt cost me a fortune, which I had saved for when I was barely making ends meet. I still enjoy wearing it. I'm not sharing this story now to brag about my exceptionally good taste. I'm using it to remind us that marketers are in the fashion design business -- beauty and style are part of the design of experience.
Ferré said he designed clothes for intelligent, free, strong women. Strong in their temperament, their character, their passionate side. Elegance has personality, like seduction. Clothes not for everyone, yet so right to serve the kind of person who would wear them.
Hand-made suits are another example of this concept. Tailored to suit a body type and life style.
You would be right to think we don't do a tremendously good job at being customers, whether we buy products or demand service. However, the odds of becoming that way improve when you design a full experience with customer conversation, starting with closing the communication loop.
Service is like dominoes, it cascades through people. If you organize it to be valuable, it comes across that way.
[image of phonebooth dominoes]