Reachability & Honesty – The New Business Model

On my way into the office this morning I was listening to Dan Benjamin’s latest episode of “The Conversation” where he was talking to one of the Slicehost co-founders, Matt Tanase.

Tanase got to talking about start-ups and what is needed – he brought up an interesting point about honesty and reachability. Basically saying that Steve Jobs’ one line responses to customers is a powerful marketing force, Benjamin popped in at this point to add that the reachability of company founders these day is almost expected by consumers.

This really got me to thinking about the business models that people are using these days – I am amazed that there are some many companies doing the same thing out there, but the winners are the ones that are focusing on customer service. Here in 2010 you will not get very far with a new startup if you are not responding to customer concerns and you are being dishonest with your customers.

The business model then becomes:

  • Find some product or service to sell.
  • Get a following.
  • Treat your customers like royalty.
  • Respect everyone.
  • Be honest when you screw up / humble when you succeed.
  • Respond to your customers (no matter what your role at the company is).

Take note of that above model, because it is not what you are going to learn in school. In school they will teach you to try and sell for less, or sell for more, to have huge advertising campaigns, to grow fast. This has worked for many years, and will continue to work for many more. This new model, the interactive and responsible company model is faster and more sustainable. Here are a few companies that I see using this model:

  • Zappos
  • USAA
  • Woot!
  • Nordstrom
  • Glazer’s Camera (Seattle only)

There are a ton more that I could name, but the above five are something special. I have never heard someone speak and ill word about the customer service of the above companies – sure they may not like the prices, but once you are their customer, you are their customer for life.

This is a powerful new business model – it is a reflection of a changing society. It is not about profits (those will come) it is about relationships, those need to be won.

Originally posted for members on: July 1, 2010
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