Doing Business Differently to Get Results – Tips from 5 Top CEOs

Share this blog:
Tracy Redies CEO of Coast Capital Speak on Being Different

Yesterday in Vancouver, the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Coast Capital Savings put on a round table discussion with highly successful CEOs in the Vancouver Community.

This group discussed topics around what makes them unique, successful and different from the rest.

Here are some key takeaways from the group of CEOs who know how to do it right. On the Panel:


Coast Capital’s Purpose: To Change the Way Canadians Feel About Banking Forever”. Align your business model to your purpose. For them it’s to provide simple financial help. The world of banking is complicated and confusing. They make it simple and fun. Behind every transaction, every touch point, their entire business asks the question “how we can help our client”. They want to be as far away from the image of “banking” as possible, and that differentiates them. Instead of hiring experts, they hire attitude and train on expertise.  They even re-wrote all of their legal documents so any customer could understand them completely in simple terms.

Their policies are based on the Litman’s test of trust first. That means they trust everyone until they prove otherwise. “You’re the boss” Campaign allows customers feel they are the boss and in charge of their lives, which they are. Coast Capital is simply there to help. They ask how each customer has a positive unexpected result or experience with then. They have “money chats” with their customers and prospective customers, and the purpose is to help them improve their lives. They found a fun, humorous way to present financial information.

They want their employees to believe with passion and conviction that they are positively changing for the better their customers’ lives. They made a promise to their employees to change the way employees feel about work forever. Happy, engaged employees tend to make happy, engaged customers. Eliminate the friction that cause customer frustration and get your employees to believe and live what you are doing, and you will be successful.

Question toward Provident Security: “How do you continue to provide a service that makes you feel safe but also feel cared for?”

A: We ask what can we do that addresses the biggest problem in our industry and how do we do it better then anyone else who can service this solution. We can to take it from an end to end service, and we do it better and faster than anyone else. People would joke after singing up “we hope we never have to see you again”. This sounded negative, so we wanted to change that mindset. So we created a concierge that takes care of you and your family and your pet and your needs before, after and while you’re away from your home. Our entire goal is to ask every day – what can we do for our customers that makes them want to see us everyday, rather than never wanted to see us again.

A: 1-800-GOT-JUNK: You have to start by thinking differently – this is the road to being different. It’s the little things you do for your customers that are far beyond what is expected that makes them go “wow, these guys are great” – and you do it consistently. You need to decide what things you do really well and get rid of the rest. It’s the call ahead. It’s sweeping up after you’re done. It’s watering their flowers if they look like they are dying on your way out. It’s the little things that show you care.

A: Kids and Company: We all need to have innovation and integrity, but being different and standing out because the way you think about business and do business needs to be different from others. We’re different because everyone of the 10,000 children we have, and all 2000 teachers and child care givers we have are grateful and thankful to have each of those kids. And I make myself available personally to each of my kid’s parents – they all have my cell phone number and my personal email address and they can contact me anytime and I will take care of them personally – it’s my pleasure to do it (Victoria Sopik has 8 kids herself).

A: Coast Capital – we are successful because we are addressing and servicing unmet needs. Employee retention is really important from a customer satisfaction standpoint because customers don’t want to tell their story over and over again. They want to build relationships and have people know and care for them. We don’t always get it right, but we always do our best and try to genuinely care for each of our clients personally, and it makes all the difference.

Comment – Too many businesses think being “different” is in their marketing, where as true differentiation is much deeper, it’s company wide and it’s in who you are and why you’re doing it to the core over what you say on an ad.

A: @WOW1DayPainting – yes, we can get a house painted in a day, instead of 7-10 days. It’s the same cost, same high quality and care, we just do it differently to deliver it differently.

A: Kids and Company: The customers we care most about so much about are the ones who leave. We want to know in depth why they are leaving and what we need to change. We never want people to leave or be unhappy, so we will offer them free service until they are happy again. There is no reason to not fix, whenever possible, someone’s experience or opinion of you and your business if you genuinely care.

A: Coast Capital: we rarely look at what others are doing within our own industry. If you’re continuing to follow “best practices” route, then you’re just doing things the same as everyone else: WestJet, Apple, Google and industry leaders who do things differently outside of your own industry is where you should be looking to get inspiration and differentiate yourself.

A: Provident Security: Our single best inspiration was from Mrs Fields Cookies. We looked at how they ran their 900 stores and their tracking and their systems to consistently provide exception in an easy way for those within it that create exceptional products consistently. I have almost zero interest in the security industry at all, we look at businesses outside of what we do for inspiration. They didn’t want stressed out staff, they wanted happy staff, so they made systems and jobs as simple and easy as possible. They were always clear what to do and everything was tracked and consistently tweaked for improvement, so the front line was happy and effective in doing what they were hired for – to take care of the customers in a wonderful way.

A: 1-800-GOT-JUNK: Sometimes the businesses that win are the ones that figure out how to find the people who will take that extra step, such as picking up the phone to call, instead of an email. Find staff who want to have fun and take care of what they are responsible for and have them believe with full conviction in what they are doing and you will be different from everyone else.

A: Kids and Company: The fact that we don’t charge late fees, that we stay open an hour later, that the teachers will stick around to talk to parents are all ways that we are different because others are not willing to do that. When asked why, it’s simply because they have always done that, so why change? That doesn’t make sense. When we mess up, we have to give free child care. And even if they leave and they don’t come back, at least they can tell the story that you tried, not that they left and you did nothing to help them. When you go to a restaurant and have a bad experience, the ones who take charges off your bill, or the Starbucks that give you free coffees or free vouchers when you’re not entirely satisfied are the ones who win, because of the exceptional service and the genuine care to make it right. People will come back for that.

A: Coast Capital: Deal with the customer’s concerns as soon as possible. When issues come to me, it’s because we failed and somehow it ended up the ladder. So we created a program called “make it right” that allows our front line staff to feel empowered and make decisions to fix mistakes quickly to ensure customer satisfaction all the time.

A: 1-800-GOT-JUNK: You’re going to make a mistake, but it’s how you handle it which makes the difference. If you go far above and beyond even after you’ve lost hope with that person, the chances of them referring you on to several other people will go beyond any small short term cost you might incur in making it good again.  Finding the right people to share your cause and being clear on what your cause is. Show them how to make something ordinary exceptional.  You have really great people, you have really great systems, you have a purpose that’s different than others, you have a winning combination. Stop focusing on your “great” marketing campaigns  and start focusing more on telling your great story. That’s what people want and that’s what they will follow.