This is a guest post from Jeanne Bliss — customer experience expert and author of “I Love You More Than My Dog.” See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on her blog.

As customers and employees, we crave what the beloved companies deliver. Beloved companies enable people to decide and act from a corner of their brain that is congruent with doing the right thing.

In doing so, they build an organization with energy and spirit that draws customers to them. We naturally gravitate to companies and people with whom we connect in a human and sincere manner. We like their story because it’s the one we strive to live ourselves.

Five decisions set companies apart. The decisions reveal who they are and what they value. Beloved companies earn the right to their customers’ story.

Five decisions of beloved companies

Decision 1: Beloved Companies Decide to Believe

“We trust our customers. We trust those who serve them.”

Inside the beloved companies, they decide to believe. They believe their employees and they believe their customers. And they practice this by suspending cynicism. By deciding to trust customers, they are freed from extra rules, policies, and layers of bureaucracy that create a barrier between them and their customers. And by deciding to believe that employees can and will do the right thing, second-guessing, reviewing every action, and the diminishing ability of employees to think on their feet is replaced with shared energy, ideas, and a desire to stick around.

Decision 2: Beloved Companies Decide with Clarity of Purpose

“Our iron-clad integrity and clarity guides the direction of our decisions.”

Beloved companies take the time to be clear about what their unique promise is for their customers’ lives. They use this clarity when they make decisions so they align to this purpose, to this promise. Clarity of purpose guides choices and unites the organization. It elevates people from executing tasks to delivering experiences customers will want to repeat and tell others about.

Decision 3: Beloved Companies Decide to Be Real

“We have a spirited soul, humanity in our touch, and personality that’s all ours.”

Beloved companies shed their fancy packaging and break down the barriers between “big company, little customer.” The relationship is between people who share the same values and revel in each other’s foibles, quirks, and spirit. That’s what draws them to each other. But it’s not easy being real; being this transparent with customers takes guts. And only the companies who really know who they are can be “real” consistently — no matter where customers interact inside the company. They decide to create a safe place where the personality and creativity of people come through. They are beloved by those customers who gravitate to their particular brand of personality.

Decision 4: Beloved Companies Decide to Be There

“We must earn the right to our continued relationship with customers.”

It’s an everyday charge up the hill to be there for customers in the ways that are important to them. And it takes its toll because deciding to be there requires more resources and more work. Beloved companies gladly do the hard work. They’re in the scrimmage every day to constantly earn the right to their continued relationships with customers. And they work every day to defend their decisions because they know that with each experience they must earn the right for the customer to return. That starts with deciding to be there when customers need them, on customers’ terms.

Decision 5: Beloved Companies Decide to Say Sorry

“We act with humility when things go wrong. We will make it right.”

How a company reacts to adversity reflects the humanity of an organization, and shows its true colors more than almost any situation it might encounter. Grace and wisdom guide decisions to accept accountability when the chips are down — not making accusations and skirting accountability. Apologizing well and repairing the emotional connection with customers is a hallmark of companies we love. In fact, it makes us love them more. How a company makes decisions to explain, react, remove the pain, and take accountability for actions signals loud and clear what they think about customers and gives an indication to the collective “heart” of the organization. Years of good intentions build up a reserve that makes forgiving the beloved companies who make sincere apologies something customers are open to doing.

About Jeanne Bliss

As “Chief Customer Officer” for Lands’ End, Mazda, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, and Microsoft, Jeanne got “customer” on the strategic agenda, earned 98% loyalty rates, and changed experiences across 50,000-person operations. Jeanne now runs CustomerBliss to create an actionable path for profitability and business growth -- through earning customer and employee raves. Her best-selling books are Chief Customer Officer and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive

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