Peter Drucker, in 1964, had great insight into inspiring the engagement with team members and customers through the product, when he said: “The customer rarely buys what the business thinks it sells him. One reason for this is, of course, that nobody pays for a ‘product’. What is paid for is satisfaction. But nobody can make or supply satisfaction as such – at best, only the means to attaining them can be sold and delivered.”
The September-October 1991 issue of the Harvard Business Review had an article, THE SERVICE-DRIVEN SERVICE COMPANY, by Leonard Schlesinger & James Heskett. The article challenged business leaders and stirred a debate and discussion within many companies, down to the present day, about the reason, purpose and result of a business. Peter Drucker, in his 1964 book, Managing for Results, defined the reason for a business as economic performance, achieved by fulfilling its purpose, to create a customer, and its result, a satisfied customer. The thinking and concepts in this book influenced, and continues to influence, CEOs to ask questions and shift paradigms. The questions go something like this:
- Do we want more sales, revenue, and profits, or do we want to create and retain more and more very satisfied promoter customers who consume more and more of our products and services?
- Do we sell stuff or do we establish relationships?
- Do our customers buy our stuff, or do they buy a means to an end, a need and a desire to be satisfied when that need is met?
- Do we want a Brand that is well known? Or a Brand that is emotionally loved, respected and admired for the ways it makes people happy, comfortable, and like they belong to the Brand and what it represents [Starbucks, Apple, Nike]?
The groundwork was further established for what today is known as team member engagement, and customer engagement with these publications:
- Earl Sasser’s book; Service Breakthroughs: Changing the Rules of the Game, in 1990
- James Haslet’s article The Profitable Art of Service Recovery [HBR July-August 1990]
- Fred Reichheld’s & Earl Sasser’s article Zero Defections: Quality Comes To Services [HBR Sept.-Oct.1990]
They did not have these words, but they had the philosophy, the processes, the behaviors, and the technology to create engagement – and they did. Inspiring the engagement of team members and customers is not new, rather it is something most of us need to catch up to structuring, doing and living in our personal and business lives.
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