Tarpy’s Roadhouse just outside of Monterey, California is renowned for its good food, friendly hospitality and fast service. One person, Niranjan (“Nick”) Subedi, a native of Nepal, shines out as a role model in serving guests at the restaurant since 2000. A phrase known to every Nepali translates to “guests equal god” and offering all you have to a guest is considered a moral duty. Nick remembers every guest and their preferences even when they have not been back to Tarpy’s in a long time. Clint Eastwood, who lives in the area, is a big fan and he like many guests requests to be seated in the area where “Nick” is serving. Nick’s belief is that service is a duty and a pleasure and he shows this in his wide grin and attention to customers’ needs. But more than that he says: “I try to bring the human element to dining, to show that I love the guests”. He lives nearby with his wife in a house he owns “ because of my customers. I owe everything to them,” he said.
“Guests equal god”
It only takes one person like “Nick” Subedi to act as a powerful role model in a business reflecting strong customer-centric behaviors to lead others to do the same. If enough people in your organization follow this example you will have a strong customer culture – and a sustainable thriving business.
We recently put together our first newsletter with a focus on the importance of the customer insight dimension in our market culture model. It brought back some great examples of how really customer focused companies can use insights to create more value for customers and the profits that follow.
During the 1990s in Australia the candy bar market began declining. Most producers reacted by increasing their candy bar size and lowered their prices. They thought customers wanted more for less and acted accordingly.
Milky Way’s Customer Insight
In the case of Milky Way bars they decided to dig a little deeper. They found that most candy bar consumption was by 8-10 year-olds at about 4.00pm in the afternoon when with a parent shopping. Parents resisted buying it for their kids because they would not want to eat their meal at night as a result.
Taking Insight to Action
So, the company reduced the size of the bar, kept the price the same, repositioned it as a snack “that will not fill you up” and they sold an extra 10 million bars.
That’s how and why deeper insight leads to profit….
I just read a great post by Jeremiah Owyang that included this video on how best buy are using social media in a variety of ways to positively impact on their culture:
I think a key point here is that to be successful in social media, the underlying values of the users need to be about adding value, being transparent, being authentic. When these values filter into the broader organization great things can happen, new ideas evolve, changes happen faster, customer service gets better. In fact increasing Iam seeing examples of how social media can be a key enabler of what we at MCS call marketculture.
Another example is GE which uses SupportCentral as a internal tool that has been ahead of the curve since 2000 according to comments by a reader on a recent McKinsey article. Anna All also references GE in this great article about its impact and Chuck Hollis from EMC illuminates us further with his first encounter with the system.
Which tools do you think are having the greatest impact on your corporate culture?
As a first post on this blog, I thought it might be fun to start with a success story. A couple months ago, Telstra, one of our premier clients, was recognized for its efforts to better serve their customers. They were named the Australian telecommunications “Company of the Year,” and their chief executive was named “CEO of the Year.”
We have been working with Telstra over the past 12 months to assist with the transformation and training of their marketing teams and other business units to help realize the needs of their customer. Within the non-marketing functions, particularly the accounting and finance functions, much of our work centered on realizing and owning their role in the end customers’ experiences. For a market culture to work, it must have buy-in from the top down and across all functions.
Comments from our CEO, Chris Brown:
“We are seeing organizations that understand they need to have a strong market culture to improve their performance. With a strong market culture every employee understands how they impact the customer. This drive for a market orientated culture is supported by scores of academic studies that show if a company has a strong market culture then it is much more likely to understand customers deeply, and to align its self to deliver superior customer value, profitably. Telstra has identified this and with Sol Trujillo has begun integrating this customer first philosophy into the way they do business.”
From the lead consultant, Sean Gallagher:
“A company’s culture is very hard for competitors to imitate. Firms with a strong market culture are able to align the entire organization to deliver superior customer value, profitably. This is where MCS services can help. We assist companies in their transition to a strong market culture by benchmarking their current culture and marketing skills. With this data we help senior management increase their organization’s customer focus throughout the firm, with special emphasis on marketing skills. Granted this process doesn’t happen over night, but the pay offs are tremendous. Telstra is only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of reaping the rewards of their efforts to spark a corporate cultural revolution around the customer.”
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