The Culture Q&A Podcast

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A very different episode, completely guided by your questions!

Culture Q&A with Robbe Richman

The hack for great customer service

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I was visiting with Stewart Emery, author of Success Built to Last (and many other books). We were standing over his La Marzocco GS/3 espresso machine. He was telling the easiest hack to make great coffee – “Start with really great coffee.”

Yes, there’s a lot more to it that that, but what a head start you have with great coffee. He shared with me how the same thing applies to business:

“If you want to deliver great customer service, start with great customers.”

He said we have more choice that we think – Whom we choose to serve and market. It’s far easier when we choose great customers whom we enjoy serving and being around. Then customer service becomes easy (or at the very least, desirable!)

 

To increase results, decrease control

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culture-warby-parkerThe glasses retailer Warby Parker has found that letting coders pick the projects they want to work on is getting them better results and better engagement. Once again, opt-in leads the way.

How to be “referable.”

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It’s the golden chalice of marketing – when you don’t have to even market your products and services. Your customers do it for you.

The early history of Zappos is based on this. At a time way before social media, the company decided to spend money not on marketing, but on a remarkable experience so that people spread the word.

So what makes a person or an organization referable? You may be surprised how simple it is.

The technique comes from Dan Sullivan‘s book, The Gap. He says referable means the best people say the best things about you. And here’s how you do it:

  • Show up on time
  • Do what you say
  • Finish what you start
  • Say please and thank you

Yup. That’s it.

You can have the fanciest branding and marketing, or the most well developed core values, but without this, it’s all wasted.

Is Culture Overrated?

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Fast company is saying culture is overrated. As with many articles, it begs the question I ask my audiences…

What is culture?

I’m sure many people are confused by this, considering Webster’s dictionary recently said it’s the most looked up word in the English language.

The article directly relates culture work to employee happiness. If that’s your definition of optimal workplace culture, then yes, culture is not only overrated, it’s dangerous. It’s like being parents who think they have total responsibility for their kids being happy, when it reality it’s their responsibility to develop people who can make it in the world.

Strong cultures are not about happiness, they are about engagement. And strong cultures are simply in alignment. That means what they believe, say and do are all consistent and evident. They hire for it, fire for it, and reward by it.

The Culture Coffee Hack

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In the last blog post I talked about how drugs could impact corporate culture. Well, it turns out the best culture drug is very available and very legal. Most people actually use it, but I wouldn’t say they use it correctly. It’s called coffee.

Quick story: There was a company from Mexico that visited the Zappos Insights program. They saw the popcorn machine in the front and said that’s the culture hack they’re taking back home. I thought, “What?! You can’t think a popcorn machine will help culture.” Well, I was wrong. It became a central hub of conversation. A group of people took care of it, another group operated it, another group brought seasonings and flavors. Talk about co-creation around ritual!

I knew coffee could be a great ritual when I read about how Apple does it. But I was really happy to see a service bring it all together: Bloom.  They were launching a startup, and then…

To spice things up and quench a mad thirst for delicious coffee, we created a coffee corner in our office. Soon, we were brewing fresh coffee everyday with our coworkers. We knew more about who we were working with plus what they were working on.

The coffee culture we built not only made us more effective at our jobs, but made everyone’s days more enjoyable.

Now they have a service around providing quality coffees.  And it’s not just the quality, it’s the ritual, it’s the process. And of course, coming together.

And then there’s the Bulletproof coffee phenomenon I’ve talked about before. I’ve introduced it to people and went from six cups of coffee a day, down to one of Bulletproof.

While great coffee won’t solve all culture problems, I’ve definitely seen how weak cultures almost always serve weak coffee. (I’ve even seen them charge for it!)

If you do get into coffee, I recommend checking out how to hack the coffee experience.  

Let me know how it goes!  Robert@CultureBlueprint.com