And what touched me the most was the way they had brought their customers into their offices. There were photographs everywhere. And frames showing their employees spending time in many ways with their customers. Their product is kidney dialysis, not a product nor an industry that I would naturally associate with loving your customer. I hear so many people talk about being customer centric, and I tried to put my finger on what it was that made this place real - walking the talk. I believe the answers lie in the heart. These people loved their customers. It radiated out of the photographs in the same way as it radiates out of photos of a happy family. I don't think you can really be customer centric without engaging the heart.
The previous week, I was working with a company whose main product is incontinence pads. We had a profound discussion about what it takes to feel proud of your product and your customers when your product is something that nobody acknowledges and talks about. How to feel proud of the dignity that your product gives to elderly people who can walk around without fear of embarrassment. How to go into a nursing home in Russia, where the health service tends to be abominable and talk to the nurses who are trying to cope. So much potential for them to engage their people, engage with their customers, really understand what it feels like to be incontinent. Think about that if your product is something fun and admired.
When you can touch your customers in that way, and empathise with them, and care, honouring them despite their lack of model looks. Then your business has meaning, and problems with employee engagement tend to melt away.
I myself feel honoured that my vocation gives me the opportunity to be welcomed into these companies, and feel what happens when an organisation connects with its customers.
Image copyright Emma Tysoe via Creative Commons