How to meet the demands of the most important person in your company
Stop for a moment, and ask yourself: Who is the most important person in your company?
Most would immediately think of their boss. However, who decides if your company will exist and if you and your boss will have a job at all is the customer.
It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, it’s the customer who decides whether or not she will buy from you again or recommend your brand to her friends.
It’s hard to believe that people and companies these days still focus exclusively on themselves, on their own problems, without any clue that helping other people with their problems is the secret ingredient for success.
The more we help others, the more they help us with our own issues to become the best we can be. Each person is important in their own way; everyone has their value. When this chain of goodwill works, the company can truly say it is successful.
Below, I’d like to share how Nordweg manages to achieve our 99% customer satisfaction level.
We developed an internal culture focused on collaboration
When your team is disorganized and people are competing against each other, it's hard to please your customer. Also, how can you project one image within the company and another outside of it?
We developed a culture of collaboration inside of Nordweg where each person can trust their colleagues and be proud of being part of the team. This enables us to genuinely help our customers and identify where people can help each other. When this happens, the way we help our customers becomes an natural extension of how we normally do our work here.
Of all the topics in this article, this one is the most important. It will ensure you are miles ahead of the competitors that try to copy your products. Competitors may try to copy what we do, but copying our culture and our people – the very things that guarantee our success – will be next to impossible.
The way we approach many small choices we make everyday is defined by our culture of trust and collaboration. These choices, over time, have the power make or break our company. Inevitably, it’s the cumulative power of all these small actions that results in a much bigger impact. Our culture is everything we have and we protect it with all of our ability, hiring only those people who will live by, and reinforce, our core values.
We respect our customers and consider them as friends
When someone becomes part of the Nordweg team, one of the main rules they learn is: Don’t sound like a telemarketing operator. Don’t say “our system doesn’t allow”. Corporate jargon is forbidden.
We joke about some companies already being taken over by maleficent AI because it’s the computer system that decides what they can or cannot do.
At Nordweg, we give people freedom. And with that freedom, we expect from them the responsibility to do everything possible to resolve a customers’ problems, the same way they would when helping a good friend.
We’ve learned a lot from studying Zappos, the great American online shoe store that sets the bar when it comes to customer service and was sold to Amazon for $1.2 bi. I highly recommend reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Heish, Zappos founder.
We know how to say No
We have the best of intentions in all we do, but we are only human and mistakes will happen, specially when we are overworked.
One of the main reasons for being overworked is failing the challenge to say NO. When everything appears to be a great opportunity, we quickly lose our ability to see what is really important, causing mental paralysis, losing focus on how to best use our time, and getting distracted by too many small tasks.
Luckily, there is a hack called “Hell yeah or no” that helps reduce the amount of stuff we do and commitments we make. It gives us space to prioritize, and allows us to achieve better outcomes by doing less “busy work”.
The name of this hack may sound rather irresponsible, but it can be a good and effective tool. It’s used a lot here because it’s often hard to say no. Every time an opportunity pops up, we ask this question and it enables us to immediately assess our priorities and sense if it will be helpful in the long run.
We use technology and automation in a smart way
It’s amazing how the productivity and quality of our work can be improved with technology. It enables us to control the business with metrics and reduce bureaucracy across the entire company, from factory operations to sales.
The main technology tool we use for customer service is Zendesk. The software integrates in a single inbox all of the customer messages from Facebook, Twitter, contacts from the website and emails. When a person contacts us via Twitter for example, the reply is sent to their Twitter, automatically.
One of the main advantages of Zendesk — or any other similar help desk software — is that customers’ messages become tickets, these tickets are logged in the system and only disappear when someone from the brand finds the ticket problem is resolved. By doing this, we increase the speed and efficiency of our response to customers.
After a ticket is resolved, the customer receives a message and has a chance to reply, rate their satisfaction with the response, or leave a comment. This reply is shared with all members of our team.
In addition to Zendesk, at Nordweg we also use Trello to manage tasks, Slack for internal communication, and G Suite for documents, spreadsheets and files. Our finances and invoices are managed by Conta Azul and we use MailChimp for newsletters.
These tools automate many repetitive processes, saving us valuable time, and enabling us to to focus on brand priorities and important customer centric actions.
We reduced the feedback cycle
Think of a fast feedback cycle as a response for a completed action. For example, when you touch a hot pan, your brain receives a signal warning that it’s hot and immediately you correct your behavior, removing your hand from the pan and avoid further damage. This is an example of a feedback cycle.
At Nordweg, we have created fast feedback cycles, holding meeting sessions with our team twice a month. These sessions – called Chimabacks after the chimarrão hot tea of southern Brazil that we drink – are structured so that each member can find out their strong points and the expectations of the team towards their work.
The session consists of everyone filling out a survey with “I like …” and “I wish”, directed individually to each of the members of the team.
Great feedback has to follow these three fundamental points. It should be:
Following the session, we appreciate the individual efforts made by each member and define the actions to be taken to proactively solve any problems, preferably before they happen. Most importantly, our Chimaback sessions help us nurture the trust and unity of our team.
We pursue the good life
For us, a good life is one filled with purpose. Beyond designing, manufacturing and delivering backpacks, we are constantly thinking about the higher purpose of our work.
We wake up every morning to build something that matters, to be a good example of responsibility, honesty and prosperity. We strive to do great work and to be a positive, inspirational example to other individuals and companies. In this way, we can help our country regain its energy and get back on track to build a brighter future for everyone.
To achieve excellence in customer service, there are no shortcuts. We have to focus on customer satisfaction at every stage of the process, and not take shortcuts simply to maximize profits. If we put profits above customers, then we will not fulfill our purpose and our business will not succeed. We understand money is important for our business, but we make money when we do what is best for our customers. For this reason, helping customers is our main purpose in business.
At Nordweg, we are constantly reminding ourselves of our mission and why it’s worthwhile. This clarity and simplicity of our goal guides us in our many daily decisions.
As humans beings, logical answers aren’t always the best ones, and that's why empathy is a daily exercise in our team, as it helps us put ourselves in the shoes of our customers and colleagues and make the best decisions, considering not only the logical, but also the emotional side of the situation.
I always remind our team that it’s more important to ask questions than to necessarily have the right answers, as many times they can be in a grey area. Everytime I find our dedicated team discussing important issues, asking questions and analysing different points of view, I am certain that we are on the right track.