Over the years, we’ve worked tremendously hard to build a solid customer base at Kuliza – not only by saying what customers want to hear, but doing what customers need to succeed. When I look around today, I see customers empowered by technology, social media and a transformed marketplace. Folks who care less our logo, PR and advertising, but more about what we do and how we go about doing it. The days when we could cover up poor after-sales service with a beautifully crafted TV commercial and a press release are well and truly over. That’s because customers can now look into our organization, see how it’s managed, evaluate our products and compare them with our competitor’s offerings – all in the space of a few mouse clicks. While these developments pose new challenges to business, there are some companies that have used them to their advantage. Let’s see how:

1. Being Authentic

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Saying one thing to customers and doing another is the best way to lose customers. From my experience, it is essential to express values through services and products. Airbnb, for example, humanized its image massively by publicizing a service that helps displaced communities seek accommodation in emergencies like floods and earthquakes – a great instance of leveraging existing technology not only for profit, but also to touch lives.

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2. Making Communication Congruous with Culture Who we are and what we say in the market as a business depends a lot on the organizational culture and team running the show. As we’ve scaled, we’ve taken great pains to create an ethos and environment that relies on the collective rather than individuals. This is only possible when hiring for capability AND cultural fit. Zappos, renowned online shoe retailers, are so protective of their values that they actually pay employees who don’t ‘get the vibe’ US$ 2,000 to quit and find another job. Makes sense for everyone involved. The employee gets time to securely look for a more suitable job while the company sheds an employee who really doesn’t feel for the business.

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3. Opening Up to Customers Inviting customers into our company and involving them in product design enables them to appreciate the time and effort that we put in to delivering results. Importantly, it makes them feel part of an extended product community where they feel their inputs matter. Made.com is great example of this. They crowdsource customer inputs for product design before going into production so that buyers actually feel like they have a part to play in the creation of a product, which in turn leads to higher sales!   I’ve learned that, more than anything else, people respond to authenticity. Companies that deliver on their promises end up building far higher brand equity than those who hammer on about their proposition. Our goal at Kuliza is to consistently craft offerings that reflect our values because we believe that is why you will choose to repeatedly work with us.