Decisions that earn customer love are not easily reached. Many companies try to copy the actions that result from beloved companies’ decisions. But to achieve the same impact, what enabled the decision must exist. You must get beyond the decision itself and possess what lies beneath it.
- What is the intent at the core of the decision?
- What motivated leaders and employees to make their decisions?
It’s the intent and motivation—the “what” and “why”—behind decisions that bond people with companies. Let me give you an example from my days at Lands’ End:
Lands’ End Founder Gary Comer’s Decision: Offer a guarantee
His intent? To send a strong and indelible message inside the company: “A guarantee means we have to deliver on the customers’ terms.”
His motivation? To give people inside the company ownership of doing the right thing for customers. He didn’t want to pen people in with rules and regulations.
One decision (to offer a guarantee) guided a host of decisions about product quality, service, and operations.
Why did Lands’ End run ads with strong exclamations about the simplicity of their guarantee?
The intention was clear, understood, and delivered on throughout the company in every interaction—to build customer peace of mind. Catalog shopping was in its early stages and people needed to know that Lands’ End was trustworthy—that a guarantee was a guarantee, with no “ifs, ands, or buts.”
When your intent (what you want to accomplish) and your motivation (the reason you make your decision) are driven by your awareness of and empathy for the people impacted by your decisions, the outcomes will set you apart. The humanity and empathy of your decisions will connect you emotionally with customers. Those customers will grow your business by telling the story of their experiences to everyone they know.
The decisions at Lands’ End inspired its unique culture, from its early days of few employees to the many thousands who have come to work there. The decisions enabled uncommon acts of kindness that marked Lands’ End’s place in the world. As transplants from other cultures came into the business, they had only to sit in a few meetings to know what behaviors and habits to model when deciding what to do.