Making your customers successful is a great way to retain them – Interview with James Freedman, CEO of Zone


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Your success, our commitment

This is the tenth in a series of interviews with CEOs that were included in a book I wrote in late 2010 called RARE Business. It was a collection of thoughts, ideas and strategies to help businesses ‘build better relationships with their customers and their people’. You can pick up an electronic copy of the book for free by clicking on the SECOND button down in the left hand column or by clicking here.

The interviews were included to supplement my own thoughts and experience and add richness, depth and context. In the interviews, I asked them what they have done to drive their business’ success, customer focus and how they have built their employee and customer engagement.

The last interview in the series was with Grahame Lake of PSP Rare and is featured in Customer retention: Increase customer switching costs by doing something that is low revenue, constant but difficult to replace for the clients.

This time round it is the turn of James Freedman, CEO of Zone, who agreed to talk to us and share some insights about what has made his business so successful in retaining customers, building a great team and driving repeat business and growth.

After launching the Manchester United magazine in 1993, which went on to become the biggest selling sports magazine in the UK, James Freedman, founded Zone in 2000. Zone is a full-service digital agency with more than 10 years’ experience working with major media, entertainment and retail brands. They have worked with a range of brands from 19 Management and The Spice Girls to Channel 5, Channel 4 and Film4 – the first multi-channel subscription channel from a mainstream broadcaster.

The company has grown to around 65 employees over the last 13 years and continues to shake up their industry. Last year they were nominated for Agency of the Year at both the New Media Age and Revolution Awards.

When we asked James about what was his proudest moment in business, he gave us a simple answer: “I’m most proud of the long-term partnerships that we have with clients particularly the 10+ year relationship that we have with Channel 4”.

James also shared with some insights on what he believes they do that has helped them build a truly customer-focused business and team. Here are some of his insights:

  1. Honesty and straightforwardness. Having the confidence to say what we think and not what the client wants to hear has stood us in great stead with clients and has allowed us to build and maintain long-standing relationships.
  2. What is going to make them successful. Understanding the client’s key drivers for business success is key to delivering a successful project and client satisfaction and repeat business.
  3. Give your people the opportunity to take responsibility We give people lots of trust and respect and loads of opportunities for responsibility. Ours is a very entrepreneurial company and if a team member wants to step up and take responsibility for something in order to make it happen then that is the way to thrive in this company. As a result, we hold onto staff and clients for a long time.
  4. Trust your instincts when hiring. Sometimes people interview well but don’t have the right attitude. We know within the first week or not if someone will work out and fit in.

This is another great example of an established business that is leading its industry, empowering its team and delivering value for its customers.

Can you learn anything from their approach?

Thank you to pierofix for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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