Brand kindness competitive advantage
Is there profit in a kinder, gentler business?
Is there profit in a kinder, gentler business?

Big business is where it’s at, right?  The Industrial Revolution paved the way for us to produce a greater variety of products, in greater numbers, more efficiently than ever before.  We all know the impact Whitney, Ford, Watt, and many others made on living standards for the masses.  We gained access and became enabled.  Reach grew alongside speed to market.

Eyes turned to the assembly line, we fixated on efficiency. And we steadily lost sight of emotional and spiritual needs. We squeezed the joy and artistry right out of the village.

We sell stuff soullessly now.  We don’t spend much time thinking about ways to deliver more “happy” to people.

  1. We’ve forgotten what it means to be grateful for a customer’s trust.
  2. We demonstrate superficial levels of customer appreciation.
  3. Our sense of entitlement has us numb to price sensitivity.
  4. We lost all sincerity behind “Thank You for your business.” Hint: it shouldn’t be a rote, mindless, autonomic response. You should totally own it. Eyes up.
  5. We see kindness as efforts which require too many resources with no direct, immediate financial impact.

Abundant clues suggest that people as a whole need to change where these values are concerned. Change is no easy feat, but the rewards are rich: when the people minding businesses change, the businesses become capable of sustained change. The kind of change that’s palpable, lived daily by employees and noticed regularly by customers.  Repeat:  noticed regularly by customers.

The business that evolves, the one that surprises and delights customers by demonstrating a generous, thankful spirit will stand out. The brand will get noticed.

31 Flavors Of Thank You – Choose Yours!

Danke. Merci beaucoup. Efcharisto (that’d be Greek). Taak (Islandic). There are many ways to say thank you.  When was the last time you said it to a customer (in any language, in any manner) with true consciousness and deepbrand kindness intent? The “Thanks, Dick” section of your auto-generated email signature line? Nope, doesn’t count. At all.  And that 1-800 survey on the bottom of your biz’s transaction receipts? Old, overdone news. Nobody believes survey responses actually lead to organizational or operational change, least of all your customers.

Consumers have grown accustomed to distant, inflexible, policy-wielding businesses. As consumers ourselves, we know the warranty claim on our flat screen is going to be rejected, and we can count on the cable guy missing his 12-5pm appointment. The cleaner is definitely not going to replace the slightly scorched silk blouse in that gorgeous poppy pink.  (*sniffs.*)

These types of stiff-shouldered, palm-out shut-downs are precisely why now is the time for your business to break out and get noticed for saying thank you, for giving generously.  I’m talking about something more widespread and institutionalized than the rogue customer service member serruptitiously doing some magic to your account with her keyboard because you gave her your puppy face. I’m talking about a cultural shift to align a brand with customer needs because as a business, you believe in delivering more than what’s expected.

“Be Kind” As A Growth Strategy

Demonstrating brand kindness will get you noticed. Here’s how:

  • Delivering the unexpected gives people something positive to think about, especially observant non-customers. (or “not yet” customers)
  • Once you do it, your competition can never own it. You’ll have the preemptive edge.
  • Surprised and delighted customers are contagious. They infect others. On Facebook and Twitter and Little League bleachers.
  • A little kindness can go a long way in balancing the scales if your biz ever has a flub-up.
  • Kindness doesn’t dilute brand equity or profit margin.  It’s like the sales strategy that keeps on giving.
  • Kindness is a long term investment that compounds through word of mouth.
  • Live brand kindness long enough and you’ll have a compelling story to tell.
  • Empathy? Yeah, that’s powerful stuff. Customers appreciate it.
  • The kind brand is an approachable brands. Approachable brands occasionally screw up. We forgive those folks because they’ve shown they’re human.
  • Get behind them (customers) and they’ll be behind you. Easy-peasy.
  • You’ll learn more useful customer insights by being open and receptive than you would have with a standard Comments Box mentality.
  • It’s simply the right way to do business.

Read more about this line of thinking over at Trendwatching in their brief “Random Acts of Kindness:  Why kind, human brands will thrive in a connected economy.”

What are your thoughts about leading a kinder, gentler business? Can this philosophy drive a culture and a sustainable business?

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About the Author

Heather Rast
Heather is Principal of a boutique Cedar Rapids digital marketing company. She develops brand positioning strategy and marketing communications plans to distinguish small businesses from the competition and attract their ideal customers. Her content planning, writing, and online community-building work helps larger businesses better serve their audiences with useful information that solves problems as it builds affinity for the brand.

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