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Kodak goes picture perfect with service

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Profiles in Leadership

When Jeffrey Hayzlett took over as Kodak’s chief marketing officer, he didn’t know much about the founding father of the company, George Eastman.

What he learned gradually, by raiding the archives and reading everything that Eastman had written, was that Eastman had been a change agent.

He’d hired one of the first female executive secretaries, when the rest of the assistants in the 1880s were men. His company’s ads were downright racy.

But through it all, he never wavered from three core tenets: serve the customer, make it easy and get close.

Hayzlett started telling anyone who would listen that Kodak’s current customer relations had to be about those three ideas. Those ideas were the foundation of the company. Kodak would fail if any changes implemented by the company—and there were more than a few being rolled out—went against those core ideas.

That realization changed the way the company connected with customers.

Kodak began asking customers this question about cameras: “How do we make our digital cameras as easy to use as a pencil?” They discovered that 90% of users only use the default setting. So Kodak put its most popular features, like red-eye reduction, in the default setting.

Hayzlett asks, “Are you doing this in your business? Before specialization, before marketing, before anything ... are you continually focused on service? And if so, how can you do it better?”

— Adapted from Running the Gauntlet, Jeffrey Hayzlett, McGraw-Hill.

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