Jeanne Bliss pioneered the role of the Chief Customer Officer, holding the first-ever CCO role for over 20 years at Lands' End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker and Allstate corporations. Her latest book, Would You Do That to Your Mother? The 'Make Mom Proud' Standard for How to Treat Your Customers is being published today. It follows on the heels of prior bestsellers from Seattle-based Bliss.
With the book coming out today, and with Mother's Day close on its heels, I asked Jeanne (pronounced "Jeannie") to answer a few questions about the themes and advice in her new book. In addition, she generously gifted Inc. readers with a digital copy of the first chapter here [PDF link].
Q: Why is a "make mom proud"-to use your term-approach to serving your customers so important?
A: As a company is growing, they can deliberately decide what type of imprint they have on both customers and employees. This means, will they build processes and experiences that honor customers' lives? Will they enable their front line to have customer information and will they give them trust to make judgment calls on treatment? Will they, from the beginning of their organization, wire in transparency and simplicity into their communication? Will they keep their policies simple and limited and only when necessary? These are the deliberate calls that a leader and team have the opportunity to make to define how they want to show up in the marketplace.
Q: How would you define a "make Mom Proud" company?
A "Make Mom Proud" company keeps it simple - growing their business and behaving in a manner that is congruent to how they were raised. We all yearn to reconnect to why we are in business in the first place - which to improve customers' and employees' lives, guiding and enabling employees to "be the person I raised you to be."
Q. From an HR perspective, what qualities or skills should leaders seek when recruiting employees to form a "make Mom proud" company or culture?
A: The "make Mom proud" companies hire the "human behind the resume." They look for values that are in sync with their own and employee creative approaches to understand how people would act, decide and behave inside their company environment and with customers. They look for people with "light behind their eyes" who take joy in the higher purpose of the work to improve customers' lives.
People are hired for their values, empathy, and ability to make a good decision, and are rewarded for doing just that. They nurture memory creators who take joy in their work. And enable people to thrive.
Q. One more question, Jeanne, which may not be an entirely "businessy" question, but I'd love to hear your thoughts, regardless: In honor of Mother's Day, which is upcoming, would you mind telling me a bit about mothers whom you have admired and who have influenced you?
A. The women I honor in my life on Mother's day were particularly animated. My mom, Lydia, would sew until all hours of the night; fashioning custom made Halloween costumes for each of us, and teeny tiny Barbie doll dresses for my sisters and I. My dad's mom, Ermalinda, rarely sat down for a meal she had prepared. Hovering around the perimeter of the table, she would carry large plates of food spooning it onto our plates whether we wanted it or not, exclaiming "Mangia!" "Mangia!"
And my mom's mom Virginia would roll out dough every Christmas to make homemade ravioli. Never satisfied unless they were perfect for us, I watched her throw out mounds of dough that she had rolled out but deemed imperfect, even when it meant putting in hours to begin again. Neither grandma let us leave their homes without handing us a bag of groceries, scooping whatever food they had in their pantry for us to take home. They were selfless. They were nourishing. They thought of us first.