I fly SWA a lot. I love their philosophy, how they do business, and how I am treated. One of their core tenets is loving their customers and being heart-centered. I think it’s their most potent differentiator.
Their latest way of showing customer love is with their “Heart of Travel” personalized artwork project. I got an email saying this:
And it gave me a link to “View your artwork” which told me Southwest is celebrating my loyalty to them by creating a custom-made work of art based on my flights with them this past year.
It’s not just a random piece of art. It’s an actual representation of my flights with them, which makes it strategically aligned with their business objectives, their brand, and my customer experience (media story here).
Here’s a video about how they came up with the idea and actually generate the individual works of art. Pretty cool stuff.
And… without further ado, here is my very own “Heart of Travel” one-of-a-kind SWA poster representing all my 2016 SWA flights.
Now imagine a med tech company or healthcare system or insurance company or non-profit taking this same idea of: a) celebrating its customers, providers, or patients, b) providing them a unique gift that both surprises and delights them, and c) employing an approach that is authentic, on purpose, and on message. The creative possibilities are endless, and the payoff I believe enormous.
Where does it start? By loving your customers.
You may be familiar with the Kingdom of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. This small Himalayan nation is the only country in the world that measures and aims for national happiness as its most important objective. The intent is to build an economy and culture based on spiritual values more than on material wealth. It prioritizes GNH over GDP. Bhutan’s commitment inspired the United Nations to pass a resolution that placed “happiness” on the global development agenda.
What does this have to do with you and the success of your company that’s in the business of health?? Potentially, a lot. As you read what follows, consider the notion of balancing both profitability and happiness as guiding values and major indicators of success.
Bhutan’s young King Khesar put it this way in his coronation address: Yet we must always remember that as our country, in these changing times finds immense new challenges and opportunities, whatever work we do, whatever goals we have – and no matter how these may change in this changing world – ultimately without peace, security and happiness we have nothing. That is the essence of the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Our most important goal is the peace and happiness of our people and the security and sovereignty of the nation.
Most companies in the health industry base major business decisions on financial metrics like ROI to shareholders, quarterly numbers, and EBIDTA. Which makes sense. You need to be successfully financially and deliver a return to investors to be a going concern.
Money matters, no matter how dedicated your company is to improving health and saving lives. “No margin, no mission,” as the late Sister Irene Kraus, former CEO of the $3 billion Daughters of Charity National Health System, is credited as saying.
And, and… maybe happiness can matter just as much as money, and measurably contribute to your company’s financial success. Especially since you’re in the business of health. Many start with employee happiness and well-being. Kaiser, Genentech, Mayo Clinic are a few of the health companies that have a reputation for really investing in the well-being – and thereby the happiness – of their employees. And there’s much further to go.
Let’s do a thought experiment: What would if happiness of your employees was a measure of your organization’s well-being? What about delivering happiness to your customers? Can you imagine happiness as part of your brand promise? Part of your unchanging core values? A key differentiator in highly competitive market? A metric you proudly talk about to shareholders and investors?
John Lennon famously said, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.”
Some of our consulting engagements are with med tech and health IT companies that have created a culture of fear. They don’t say so. But it’s evident in how employees are treated, how customers are viewed, and most clearly in how decisions are made.
We try to help them move away from fear and toward love- even if we usually don’t say so (my fear??). The main way we do this is by putting the customer first. This enables people to let go of the need to magically know what products to make and how to market them effectively and instead co-create the necessary understanding together with their customers. The process, when done well, is as humbling as it is empowering.
Do you work from fear or love? Can you imagine loving your customers? What would change if you did?
More posts on how compassion is good business:
The Painful Cost of Disruptive Innovation: Uber & Cancer?
Introducing Compassionate Nonviolent Marketing: A New Paradigm