Whether you are a business leader or individual contributor, figuring out how to keep your value proposition relevant in a growing era of technology (robots, kiosks, apps, etc.)is going to be critical for ongoing survival. That is why I wrote the Seven Personalization Principles Model (7-P) to help illuminate how organizations and individuals can customize and personalize to win in the new economy. Below is an excerpted chapter case study on Timbuk2, the popular retailer of messenger bags, backpacks and accessories as an example of how the Seven Personalization Principles are used to create exceptional sales and marketing experiences for customers and employees.
Authenticity and Hospitality
Timbuk2’s casual work environment exudes authenticity and allows employees to be their authentic selves while serving their customers. Everything from the dress code, to the policies and systems, are created in an organic way, rather than forced upon employees by leadership. Timbuk2 leadership treat their talent with hospitality by providing them with employee perks such as lunches, coffee, a dog-friendly office, and other such incentives that make their workplace feel more like home rather than the workplace. This hospitality is then transferred to the customers as they enter the store and are invited in to the casual, cool, calm environment.
As a customer service expert, I walked intoTimbuk2 with my customer experience radar on high alert. As I walked in, an associate greeted me briefly from afar. I immediately jumped in to looking at their product, all the while I was keeping a close eye on the associate, wondering when he was going to ask if I needed help. It was not until I had done a full lap around the store that an associate came over to where I was looking at a bag and proceeded to pick one up and start discussing all of its cool features with me. He demonstrated how the messenger bag adjusted to hug the body and how you could customize the fit and which side the strap was on.
He asked me a lot of questions about what I would use the bag for and had an answer back for each purpose, demonstrating how the features of that bag could meet my particular needs. But then he was not pushy to close the sale and simply walked away after ensuring all of my questions were answered. Overall my experience at Timbuk2 was quite lovely. There was a nice balance of assistance, information, education and letting me discover the product for myself. I initially thought that perhaps they were not going to be attentive enough, as it took a few minutes for someone to assist me. However, after pondering it further, I realized this method was quite pleasant and not pushy. It gave me just enough space to be curious and explore for myself, while still welcoming me and making me feel like the associates were there to serve me.
Timbuk2 founder Rob Honeycutt created the company because he was a bike messenger in San Francisco and saw the need for a practical, durable and personalized bag. Since their inception, Timbuk2 has created customized, personalized, just-in-time manufactured products that keep the customer in mind from start to finish. They have lots of empathy for their customers, because they are their customers. They live the same busy lives as their loyal customers. They also stand by their products with a lifetime warranty. They will replace or repair any bag if it does not live up to its quality standards. This shows the empathy and respect they have for their customers. They know their customers want to invest in a bag that has a high quality and will last for many years to come.
Timbuk2 understands that because of their target demographic of customers, traditional mass marketing will not grow their company. Instead, their customer centric focus and commitment to the quality of their products has allowed their company to grow to a net worth of over 23-million dollars. They live their shared values everyday and it shows in their commitment to the customer. Although traditionally seen as a cycling brand, Timbuk2 emphasizes that they have a bag for every use from traveling, to cycling, to carrying diapers, to everyday fashionable purses. They are committed to personalized, customized bags to suit the needs of every customer.
Timbuk2 Chief Marketing Officer Kevin McSpadden says the culture and brand commitment is a “movement, more than a strategy.” Timbuk2 leadership works hard every day to make sure their talent is inspired by their surroundings. Their commitment to just-in-time manufacturing has brought a whole new level of personalization and customization to the retail industry.
Sales representatives at Timbuk2 are hired more for their cultural fit than any specific skills. They also have to be product evangelists, because in order to sell the product in line with the Timbuk2 philosophy, they must have a deep knowledge and love for it.
Since Timbuk2 associates are hired for culture fit and personality rather than skills, friendliness is a huge factor in the hiring process. As a testament to creating a friendly and casual environment employees bring their bikes to work and hang them in the front entrance of the store. Other employee friendly perks include bike catered lunches, a casual dress code, indoor bike parking, stipends for riding your bike to work, shower and towel service, loner bikes, a retail store with a bike-share program, allowing dogs in the office, weekly yoga, full-sized stocked kitchen, keg of beer on tap and coffee beans delivered by a bike roaster. Importantly, this friendliness transfers over to the customer experience, as interactions with their associates tend to be very pleasant and authentic, not overly enthusiastic, or fabricated.
Timbuk2 culture is very casual and fun. Because the environment is not focused on formal bureaucratic processes, talent is able to do their job and have fun while doing it, without obstacles in the way. Excerpted from “The Seven Personalization Principles by Peter Psichogios with Jennifer Budinsky, published April 2016. Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/1VArriO
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