Build a name for your company by delivering Zappos-style customer service. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh acknowledges that it’s expensive to do, and that the payoff is two or three years down the road. “If all we wanted was to maximize our 2010 profits, we’d fire everyone and stop answering the phones," he says. "But I think we’re at an inflection point where we’re seeing companies that serve customers well start to win. I think that’s only going to continue.”
— Adapted from “Happy Feet,” Newsweek.
Keep agreements with partner companies going strong—and avert contract breaches—by keeping lines of communication open. Michael Epstein, president of video gaming accessory company eDimensional, assigns a staffer to make frequent progress reports with partner companies, to stay in touch and to make sure everyone is on the same page.
— Adapted from “I Got Screwed—but Going to Court Wasn’t Worth the Cost,” Michael Epstein, BNET.
Make your e-mail messages easy to read and respond to by limiting them to one topic per message. Here’s why: Say you want to send an e-mail with one question that requires a quick response and one question that requires thought and effort. The recipient is likely to either (a) respond to the quick question and forget about the other item, meaning you’ll need to prompt him later for an answer, or (b) decide to wait until he can answer everything at once, meaning the quick-response question languishes.
— Adapted from “A Few Notes on Writing Emails,” Leslie A. Joy, Brazen Careerist.
Fill your innovation pipeline by eavesdropping on your customers. Example: It’s rumored that Michael Dell used to have his call center reps keep small notes on all customer feedback. Then he would spread out the notes and read them like tea leaves, creating better products and services.
— Adapted from “Proven Ways To Fill Your Innovation Pipeline,” G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón, Bloomberg BusinessWeek.