Required Reading: Businesses Should Ask Would You Do That to Your Mother?

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Companies often become so engrossed in the technical aspects of business that they lose sight of the end goal: providing an exceptional experience for customers. To ensure that the customer isn’t forgotten, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss proposes that business leaders make it a habit to treat customers as they would their own mothers, a practice she addresses in her aptly titled book Would You Do That to Your Mother? To learn more about this make-Mom-proud standard for treating customers, Associate Editor Sam Del Rowe spoke with Bliss, who is also founder and president of CustomerBliss and cofounder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association.

CRM magazine: What is the basic premise behind this book?

Bliss: I organized the book to be a simple inventory of the most common struggles that define our lives as customers. If companies study and own this list, they have a simple game plan for not only eliminating the struggles but, by working on each of them, elevating their behavior to stand out as a company to make Mom proud.

The book identifies four principles by which make-Mom-proud companies operate. How did you come up with those principles, what do they entail, and why are they important?

Grounding these principles is the personalization of business centered on this one deceptively simple question: Would you do that to your mother? 

The four principles are the following:

• Be the Person I Raised You to Be. Make-Mom-proud companies work to find people who live their core values and then work to enable them to bring the best version of themselves to work. They remove practices that might curb the extension of care or inhibit employees from acting in good conscience. 

• Don’t Make Me Feed You Soap! This is our opportunity to remove what makes it hard to be a customer: waiting, complexity, uncertainty, and even fear. Our opportunity is to turn these moments into ones of reliability, respect, and caring.

• Put Others Before Yourself. Make-Mom-proud companies prove with their actions that they have their customers’ best interests in mind. To achieve your goals, you need to help others achieve theirs. Taking this approach to growth means opening everyone up to a new order of design and decision making. It’s about building deliberate moments of trust based on customer needs and delivering memories earned by serving lives.

• Take the High Road. Through leadership guidance and company actions, make-Mom-proud companies are establishing more balanced relationships where both company and customer win. Leadership is foundational for this to occur because the high road is a choice leaders take in how they will and will not grow. 

Of the 32 case studies presented in the book, which ones stand out to you?

The greatest joy I had in writing this book was finding, assembling, and curating these case studies. There are so many companies that are reversing frustrated-Mom moments to create make-Mom-proud moments. Among them are Pal’s Sudden Service, a fast-service drive-through restaurant based in Tennessee; the personal shopping service Stitch Fix; Careem, a ride-sharing service in the Middle East; and car repair service Luscious Garage in San Francisco. 

What steps would you recommend to organizations looking to become make-Mom-proud companies? 

This is a movement or a shift inside an organization’s culture that has to start with leadership. It’s not as easy as simply telling everyone to ask “Would you do that to your mother?” with everything they do. Conditions must be right culturally for employees to do the asking. Then, challenging and disruptive thinking must be rewarded and celebrated. 

Tactically, go down the list of the moments that define our lives as customers and start determining which ones your company has the capacity, leadership, and culture to tackle. The last chapter of the book, called “Stop the Shenanigans,” is a quiz designed to assess where you are in each phase so that you can determine how to prioritize your actions.

And finally, celebrate the make-Mom-proud moments that exist today in your organization to give people examples of the behavior and acts with which you want to define your company. Leaders deliberately begin to take these actions themselves and promote them as a beacon for the kind of company you want to show up in the marketplace.

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