Can Companies Really Care About Their Customers?
“Two years ago, Isobella Jade was down on her luck, living on a friend’s couch and struggling to make it as a fashion model when she had the idea of writing a book about her experience as a short woman trying to break into the modeling business.
“Unable to afford a computer, Ms. Jade, 25, began cadging time on a laptop at the Apple store in the SoHo section of Manhattan. Ms. Jade spent hours at a stretch standing in a discreet corner of the store, typing. Within a few months, she had written nearly 300 pages.
“Not only did store employees not mind, but at closing time they often made certain to shut Ms. Jade’s computer down last, to give her a little extra time. A few months later, the store invited her to give an in-store reading from her manuscript.”
When I read that story in the New York Times, it reminded me of how much it’s actually possible for companies to care about their customers. And how the boundaries of that care and the resulting relationships can move totally beyond anything that anyone could ever describe in a how-to-manage-customer-relationships manual.
We live in a world of increasing rules, regulations, and instruction books. Lots of pages filled with what to do and not to do. But in an age where there is a huge hunger for relationships and unbounded possibility, we need to be guided by our values and beliefs. We need to trust those we work with to carry them out as they see fit and in doing so create possibility where none previously existed.
It is in that space of trust, which comes not from a detailed map but an aligned understanding of the direction we’re headed in, that our creativity and compassion can bloom.
In the year ahead, we need to figure out how to build trust and take the handcuffs off those that work for and with us.