Clarity of Purpose: What’s Your Promise?


Does it live consistently across your company?

Clarity of purpose extends well beyond the boardrooms of beloved companies. It unleashes the organization’s imagination to make decisions guided by its promise. It’s no wonder that companies with clarity of purpose have the most loyal and engaged employees. The opportunity to deliver to a clear purpose elevates day-to-day tasks, giving work direction and joy.

Internet clothing and shoe retailer Zappos earns 75 percent of their daily orders from repeat customers. Clarity of purpose fuels its customer devotion. Zappos wants to be known as a service company that happens to sell shoes, handbags and an expanding array of products in the future. The lens through which the company makes decisions is service.

This clarity frees everyone there to live the “Golden Rule” in the way they work.

Zappos Clarity of Purpose

One decision Zappos acts on every day is helping customers find a pair of shoes, even a pair they don’t stock. Customer Loyalty Reps who take customer calls are encouraged to know competitors’ Web sites for one simple purpose: Service. If a customer calls Zappos for a shoe it doesn’t have, their Reps will search the Internet to help the customer find it. Customers are continuously amazed, delighted and dazzled by this act of genuine customer care.

Zappos’ clarity of purpose – that doing the right thing for the customer is ultimately the right thing for the business – transcends any short-term gain it might get by pushing the customer toward another shoe they have in stock.

Clarity for being a service business first gives Customer Loyalty Reps energy and a compass for decision making. And it gives them the joy of delivering Zappos’ version of the “Miracle on 34th Street.” You may remember that in the movie Miracle on 34th Street, a Macy’s-employed department store Santa joyfully sends customers to competitors when the store didn’t stock what they wanted, making Macy’s the “winner” of the Christmas season.

In this single, simple decision, Zappos wins over the hearts of customers. It is this type of gesture that makes customers love them. They are loved for being the kind of people who send a customer to the competition because it’s the right thing to do.

Every type of business prospers when clarity of purpose steers decision making.

People across your company live up to the promises you make. Customers become emotionally connected with you and want others to experience what you deliver. Their stories of your service, experience, and people become the folklore that defines you.

And customers become your sales force, telling your story to everyone they know, fueling your growth.

Image: Wikipedia


Jeanne Bliss Jeanne Bliss is the founder of CustomerBLISS; a consulting and coaching company helping corporations connect their efforts to yield improved customer growth. Her best-selling books are; Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions for Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad.

5 Reactions
  1. I would add that once you have that clarity of purpose you need to be consistent. Imagine how disastrous it would have been if Amazon had forced their culture on Zappos when they acquired them? However, Amazon was wise enough to let them continue to deliver on their purpose of being a great service company, and that has made all the difference.

    • Robert,

      I agree. It’s a wise decision and a best practice, too. Warren Buffett builds his wealth by acquiring fundamentally sound companies – and let the existing management to continue running them the way they do it pre-acquisition.

      • Ivan like everything, selection is the most critical choice companies and people must make. Buffett agonizes about the companies to exist in his portfolio. Then as you say he honors and trusts them to continue growing based on the characteristics that caught his eye in the first place. So many companies aren’t clear about how they will and will not grow. Always baffling to me!

    • Robert, so glad you made this point! Amazon is clear about its growth engine which is reliability and consistency. They enable Zappos to use parts of that engine to improve but also as you say…leave them alone to also sprinkle their own version of brand magic. Bravo!

  2. Any business can thrive for simply providing good service. Just put yourself in your client’s shoes. You want to be treated well and you want to get what you want. And the surprising thing is that you don’t have to be perfect. As long as you’re honest and you understand your customers, then you’ll be surprised that they can also be very understanding.

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