Founders: How Can You Make Your Company Human?May 17, 2011 2011-05-17 14:36
Founders: How Can You Make Your Company Human?
Founders: How Can You Make Your Company Human?
[Editorial Notes: This article is published under series called “Bring Your Own Insights”, where we bring selected guests to share their insights with Pluggd.in audience on a regular basis. We have always believed that our readers are amazingly insightful, so why not enable a channel for them to share their insights/experience with the audience? These guests will come from different industries and will share their insights on a very frequent basis. Presenting an insightful article written by Sanket Nadhani, who heads Marketing & Sales atFusionCharts.]
You are now chatting with Jonathan
Jonathan: Hello Timmy. How can I help you?
Timmy: do you know how wide the G-Shock Atomic Solar – AWG101 SKU #7403774 is?
Timmy: i mean, how big a wrist it would fit?
Timmy: Timmy has a big fat wrist
Timmy: Timmy need watch grande
Jonathan: I’ll see what I can find out for Timmy.
Timmy: awesome. and can we please continue to talk about Timmy in the 3rd person? Timmy likes to boost Timmy’s ego by talking about Timmy that way
Jonathan: Jonathan would be happy to neglect the use of pronouns for the duration of this conversation.
Timmy: Jonathan and Timmy shall get along just fine
Jonathan: Will Timmy be able to measure Timmy’s wrist?
Timmy: Timmy’s wrist is big, but not Biggie-Smalls big. Timmy doesn’t have the required measurement instruments.
Timmy: Timmy is 6’4″ 220lbs if that helps Jonathan
Jonathan: Luckily, that is roughly the size of Jonathan’s brother, so that does help. “
and so it went….
This is a very famous chat transcript between a Zappos customer service rep and another person who was just trying to see if the Zappos customer service is as good and as fun as they claim it is. It sure is.
It’s such a refreshing change from the customer service we have become so used to from other companies. The kind of customer service that you go to only after you have asked your friends, colleagues and Twitter followers for help but still couldn’t get your answer. So what is it that makes this conversation so refreshing? Quite simply, it’s human. Unlike other companies, Jonathan isn’t hasn’t been asked to act like a robot. He isn’t paid for that. He is paid for solving problems just like he would when talking to real people in the real world
How can you make your company human?
I almost cringed writing that heading. We are born humans, we grow up as humans, yet as soon as we enter the corporate world we become robotic. We are obsessed with following the other companies, mostly the larger ones, and doing things like they are supposed to be done. So here I will discuss some quick ways in which you can make your company human again. I will not focus on how you can do this on sales calls or support emails, instead on a wider one-to-many scale.
Have an About page
Most companies and websites have About pages. They talk about what the company does, where they are based out of, how qualified is their management and the awards they have received. That’s pretty good for a start. But that’s where most companies stop.
Why not take this chance to build a personal connection? Tell the story of how the company was born.
Talk about what the company believes in (hint: no, you are not out there to change the world). If the company has a funny or weird name, talk about where that came from. And please put out a photo and bio of everyone in the team. It is so much easier for someone sitting thousands of miles away to “connect” with you when they have a mental picture of you. They know what you look like, how old you are, whether you are a beer or a scotch guy and what you do on weekends. And if for some reason you cannot put out bios of everyone, at least put a team photo of all the members from all the different offices.
I am particularly proud of our About page where we spill the deepest darkest secrets of everyone in the team.
Many a times over sales calls and emails, people who have seen my bio tell me – Wow you rap 🙂 I tell where it comes from and we usually end up having a good laugh about it. The point is, it helps build a personal connection without having to put any additional effort. Another great example you should check is Automattic’s About page
Bring out the behind-the-scenes stuff
Everybody loves behind-the-scenes. Movies, music videos, concerts and now even software product companies. So give them the dope.
You launched a new product line. Talk about what sparked the idea? How many months did it to take to develop? Tech issues you ran into? When you take people along the journey of the product, they feel like they are a part of it. They want to see you succeed.
They will help you succeed by spreading the word about your company. A great example of this is Balsamiq – a company that makes wireframing tools. Peldi, the founder, was “frighteningly” transparent about how the company started, the complete marketing plan and even a complete breakdown of the company’s finances (here, here and here).
You might have developed a new homepage for your company. How bad did the last one suck? What was your thought process going behind a new one? How many people were involved? Show all the iterations it went through. Not only does this help form a connection, there are valuable takeaways for the readers as well.
– 37Signals talking about their homepage revamp
– ClickTale talking about the evolution of their blog in great details.
Put out pics of your parties and celebrations
You claim that you are a fun company to work at, don’t you? Everyone does. Now show it. Put out pics of parties, picnics, product launches and festivals. And yeah don’t just show the “stock image type” pics with everyone standing in that perfect pose oozing with “team spirit.” Show me the real you. If the entire team went out to have a beer, show me that. If you are playing Holi, show me the wild riot of colors. If everyone went to a club and danced the night away, show me the sweaty and tired people too.
We at FusionCharts regularly put out pics of our outings and celebrations on our blog and Facebook. And if there are stories accompanying the events, we are happy to put that together too. In fact, this is my favorite part of the job.
I can’t tell you the number of times people at tradeshows, interviewees, people who have now joined FusionCharts and members of the press tell me that these pics showed them that we are a fun company. Not one that just puts it out on their Careers page.
To sum up, just remember that people like doing business with people. So stop being a faceless company and show the world who’s behind the wheel.
What’s your opinion?
Recommended Read: Running Your Own Venture and Still Having Fun?