Wired to Care

Wired to Care combines real life stories about many companies we know and understand along with business background information to help us apply the lessons to the places we work.

The core message here is that caring for your customers isn't just new-agey PR material. It provides tangible benefits for your company and helps you succeed.

The examples demonstrate this lesson. Many motorcycle companies were failing - but Harley Davidson put its efforts into building up its connections with its loyal fans. It was those fans who helped Harley thrive in a down economy.

You need to really know where your customers are coming from. Many if not most Harley employees own and ride Harleys. A schoolteacher doesn't need to BE eight years old, but she needs to understand what eight year olds worry about and how they learn best. An Indian doctor is not African-American, but she can still work to understand her patient's concerns.

Microsoft is a juggernaut - but they have had successes and failures. When they wanted to make a game system, they took a bunch of gamers, had them develop a system THEY would love, and they were able to take on the powerhouses of Sony and Nintendo. However, turning their attention on Apple's iPod, they didn't build the same quality team of "music lovers". The result was a MP3 player which failed miserably.

I loved the story about coffee. Several decades ago Arabica (tasty coffee) was expensive, while Robusta (bitter) was cheap. Coffee manufacturers slowly added more and more robusta into their blend over the years. Existing coffee drinkers got used to the new flavor and coffee makers thought they were all set. However, they weren't bringing in new drinkers! Young people who tried coffee thought that older people were insane to drink this bitter brew. It wasn't until coffeehouses started coming out with all Arabica coffee again that younger people saw just how tasty a good coffee could be.

Zildjian took the cymbal, which was an orchestra-only instrument, and by talking with musicians in small bars, created an entire new market for their crashes and rides. They were hugely successful even in the middle of the great depression.

Numerous studies show that our brains light up when we relate to someone. If we see them pick up a book, to our brain it's almost as if WE picked up a book. So by having customers who relate to your company on a personal level, you have already made those connections that will keep them supporting you and buying your products.

There was just one minor complaint with the book. At one point they are talking about how a book was written with suggestions to save money. The money-saving book talked about looking at what other people had put out for trash / recycling and if something seemed interesting. Wired to Care felt this was "inhuman" advice. Inhuman? I know many people who swap things with their neighbors and they all feel it's a quite fun way to keep items out of the trash stream. I would hardly feel this is inhuman. If anything, we should all be swapping used goods more often, and recycling more, rather than throwing away so much stuff.

Still, a small issue in a great book.

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