This 72-Year-Old Company Put Relentless Focus on Improving These 2 Things for 12 Years, and Profits Quadrupled


This 72-Year-Old Company Put Relentless Focus on Improving These 2 Things for 12 Years, and Profits Quadrupled

Your customer experience can be the source of your competitive advantage.

CREDIT: Getty Images

Everywhere you turn, people are talking about customer experience these days. Customers are growing more demanding and letting that impact where they spend their hard-earned dollars.

Every company delivers a customer experience, whether or not they plan to do so. The challenge for many organizations is that even though customer experience is something they know the business should focus on, they don’t fully believe it will actually drive business results.

I came across this challenge just this week while delivering customer experience workshops on site with a client. The team in the room nodded their head at the benefits of customer experience, and even how it impacted their own lives personally.

But when it came to getting them to alter their brand-first marketing approach to focus instead on delivering experiences that drew customers closer to them, many in the room visibly struggled.

It was an uncomfortable thought for them. They had difficulty understanding that not talking about their brand all day, every day, and everywhere, could actually help them grow their business. Thankfully, the marketing leaders in the room got it, and we’ll continue to work together to create the cultural transformation that gets their full team over the hump to imagine a new way of operating, one that can bring the desired results.

Many businesses are like that. 

They know they should put attention on the customer experience, but haven’t yet 
embraced it as a strategy that can significantly grow business. The good news is there are standout examples that prove focusing on experience is the way to move forward.

How one company grew significantly by not focusing on their brand.

I was delighted to talk to Tom Feeney, CEO of Safelite, the largest supplier of vehicle glass repair in the country. Over the past 12 years, Tom and his team have been undergoing a cultural transformation with their more than 15,000 associates that has enabled them to go from a $500 million to $2 billion dollar business. They’ve also quadrupled their profits over the same time period, and increased their net promoter score to 88.

Tom told me the 72-year-old company did it by focusing not on selling vehicle glass repair, its core product, but on delivering an excellent employee experience to its workforce, of which 85 percent is customer facing, and by giving those employees the tools they needed to deliver a remarkable customer experience.

He explained:

"We don’t take actions to increase market share, we don’t take actions to increase sales. We take actions to make the associate experience and the customer experience better, and trust that those two things will turn into better results."

His team puts a relentless focus on these two areas of the business because they’ve seen that by putting the people in his company first, it makes every other aspect of running the business easier, including serving customers like none other.

He went on to add that business leaders that let their financials be their guide are doing it to their detriment:

"It’s those businesses who make decisions on the P&L that make the mistakes. We trust the P&L is going to be fine. Take care of your people, they’ll take care of the customers. The rest will take care of itself."

Business is about belonging.

When your customers feel like you see them, that you get them and are working hard to help them achieve the transformation they seek, they will appreciate your efforts. They will reward you with their attention, repeat business, and word-of-mouth referrals.

Conversely, when your customers feel like your primary goal is selling them more of your products and services, it makes the experience feel transactional. And that’s not a feeling people are eager to experience over and over again.

The market has changed. While transactional, brand-focused marketing may have worked brilliantly in the past, it is not a smart strategy to grow your company in today’s climate.

Your customers want more, and they are encountering plenty of companies who are willing to deliver the kind of experiences they crave. Make sure your brand is giving your customers what they need, rather than just what you want.

Published on: May 28, 2019
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of
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