When was the last time you smiled?
A smile is a simple act that stimulates a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing a suite of ‘feel-good’ hormones. To cheer myself up, I occasionally look into the mirror and smile. Heaven knows moments of joy have been hard to come by this past year! The endorphins released by a single smile, however, can prepare me to tackle my next set of Teams calls with renewed vigour.
Generating persistent smiles across a customer base is an act of brilliance unifying all members of an enterprise to develop a powerful brand purpose. I thus realized this simple action can take the entire organisation to another level and generate positive business outcomes.
Competitive advantages of having a powerful brand purpose
My daughter recently asked me what I do for work. It seems to her as I talk to a screen all day long. While reflecting on this question, I realised that my purpose indeed is to make a difference by delivering measurable value. Therefore, my answer to her would be − I work with brilliant people to make a difference in the world.
The COVID pandemic has encouraged people to question themselves about both personal and business objectives. Since knowing your company purpose means being aligned with your core values, it is no wonder that many organizations suddenly started rethinking their long-term goals.
Studies consistently show that organisations acting (rather than merely talking) with purpose perform better than others. The suggested action here would be to live and operate by a certain example – the one with a specific strategy implemented throughout enterprise design and communication. The recommendation will become clear enough in the following sections.
Leading with purpose
If purpose-driven, brands can tell authentic corporate stories with excellence. The mere act of sharing narratives helps businesses achieve greater long-term market gains and rate three times higher than their competitors.
Purpose-led value design has become a viable alternative to a long-dominating Friedman’s notion of “just making money” as a primary company purpose. The quote by Unilever CEO Paul Polman demonstrates what it means to lead with human values in mind.
“We have committed to help provide good hygiene, safe drinking water and better sanitation for the millions of people around the world who are still denied these basic human rights . . . It is about opportunity and aligning our purpose in business with this opportunity.”
– Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever
To better illustrate the point, we can reflect upon the recent events surrounding the proposed European super league. The unfortunate strategic miscalculation led by the clubs is an example for the history book as it disregards the desires of the community. Although football is an enormous business, the failure of the clubs to consider the purpose, market, and customers has significantly discredited both the sport and the clubs.
On the other hand, TOMS is an inspiring example of an organization oriented around a powerful brand purpose. Its mission is to improve lives through footwear. As a purpose-driven company, for every sold pair of shoes, they donate a pair to kids in need. Similarly, Gillette oriented their purpose around making men the best they can be by eliminating sexist and violent behaviour.
Learning from customers
Maintaining customer smiles thus turns out to be essential for creating a strong and satisfied community. The positive financial returns will also testify to the point – customer retention is five times cheaper than customer acquisition costs.
Happy customers tend to be loyal in a long run and generate referrals through advocacy. Not to mention they create cross-sell opportunities. To create loyal brand advocates, however, we have to understand the market and buyer persona – from its values and desires to daily habits.
If you want to generate persistent smiles, you should also try to understand what prevents them. Some of life’s greatest lessons are those born of disappointment. Suboptimal customer service or business performance are valuable learning experiences. These create opportunities to reframe relationships in all sectors, starting with the market, products and services, customers, and enterprise as a whole.
Given that we now operate within an omnichannel environment, the need to intelligently design and maintain omnichannel personas have never been so important. The ability to understand drivers, touchpoints, and moments that matter is pivotal in designing and maintaining a ‘customer smile’.
A smile is a corporate gold. Take time to consider how it can be replicated and maintained across your enterprise. Powered by a purpose, this can be a smart investment for all organizations.
All views expressed are my own.