Purpose and why it is important to employees and customers – Interview with Stan Phelps


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Today’s interview is with Stan Phelps, Founder of Purple Goldfish, a think tank of customer experience and employee engagement experts. Stan joins me today to talk about his new book: Red Goldfish: Motivating Sales and Loyalty Through Shared Passion and Purpose that he has co-authored with Graeme Newell. We talk about the book, why purpose matters to both customers and employees and also a number of ways that businesses are embracing purpose and what impact it is having.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Trust, lean data and the rising importance of purpose as a customer preference – Interview with Jascha Kaykas-Wolff – and is number 219 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Highlights from my conversation with Stan:

  • Red Goldfish: Motivating Sales and Loyalty Through Shared Passion and Purpose is the fifth book in the goldfish series of books.
  • Stan believes that going forward purpose will become the ultimate differentiator in business.
  • The book’s colour was inspired by the RED campaign set up by Bono and Bobby Shriver in 2006.
  • Purpose is the reason that a business or organisation exists.
  • Purpose 1.0 – Thirty or forty years ago purpose was predominantly to deliver profits and returns to shareholders.
  • Purpose 2.0 – In the 1980s organisations started to focus on getting and keeping customers. And, if you got that right then the profits and returns to shareholders would follow.
  • Purpose 3.0 – In the last decade or fifteen years organisations have started to put employees first as they realise that if they don’t have engaged employees then that hinders the flow of benefits to customers and shareholders.
  • Purpose 4.0 – In the next fifteen years or so the focus will be on really understanding your ‘why’ and being able to the little things that bring that to life.
  • Simon Sinek – ‘People don’t buy what you do or even how you do it, they buy why you do it’.
  • In 2020, the workforce in the US becomes 51% millennial and that could rise to as much as 75% by 2025.
  • Purpose is very important to millennials and that is the driving force behind the increasing importance of purpose.
  • Stan identifies 8 different archetypes, which are based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
    • 1. The Protector – Those who seek to protect what is good and valuable. They strive for a safe & secure world e.g. Panera Bread, Patagonia, prAna, REI etc
    • 2. The Liberator – Revolutionaries frustrated by a broken system who seek to reinvent, streamline and improve e.g. Uber.
    • 3. The Designer – Those who empower the world through the creation of revolutionary products and ideas e.g. Apple.
    • 4. The Guide – Mentors who coach, challenge and guide their tribe to seek improvement and a better life e.g. Google, Khan Academy.
    • 5. The Advocate – Motivated defenders who stand up and advocate for a neglected or unappreciated group e.g. AARP.
    • 6. The Challenger – Bold advisors seeking to motivate and inspire individuals to undertake singular change e.g. Nike.
    • 7. The Unifier – Charismatic champions who rouse, muster and inspire hopeful recruits to join a purpose-driven movement e.g. Whole Foods.
    • 8. The Master – Guides seeking all-encompassing transformational change to improve the entire world e.g. Warby Parker, TOMS.
  • More details and examples of the archetypes can be found here.
  • As an example of a Protector archetype Stan cites Patagonia who run an employee programme called Green Sabbaticals, where employees can get 2 months of paid leave to go and work for an environmental organisation.
  • An example of a Designer archetype comes from Apple who are intent on using their products to help people live better lives and they showcased this when they created a video of a non-verbal autistic young man named Dillan Barnache who used an iPad to type out the words he wanted to say for a middle school graduation speech. His words were then spoken by an augmented and alternative communication (AAC) app on the iPad. This was all for Autism Acceptance Day.
  • An example of Master archetype comes from Warby Parker who are intent on upending the eyewear market as well as being a socially conscious business. To do that, for every pair of glasses they sell they make a cash donation to VisionSpring, a non-profit where Warby Parker founder Neil Blumenthal used to work. What happens with their donation is that VisionSpring trains low-income men and women to sell glasses in their communities for affordable prices, which allows them to earn a living but does not displace local business through any free donations.
  • What comes first….purpose or a successful business? That’s a chicken or egg question but, ideally, you would want your purpose to be part of your founding DNA. But, it’s never too late to start developing your purpose, re-evaluate your purpose or to set a new one.
  • Traditionally, ‘for purpose’ organisations tended to be not for profit organisations. However, Stan believes that we don’t have to choose profit or purpose any more and that business can choose profit and purpose. Therefore, in the future, we will reach a time when we will talk about business or organisations that are ‘for purpose’ or ‘not for purpose’.
  • We will then decide if we want to do business with or work for those types of companies.
  • In 2015-16 Gartner said that 89% of companies will compete on customer experience. Five years earlier that number was 36%.
  • PWC produced some additional research, quoted in the book, and found that 86% of employees would consider leaving their employer if their values didn’t align with those of the company.
  • In other research, by BrandFuel, 86% of customers, other things remaining equal, would do business with a company whose values mesh with their own.
  • Therefore, Stan believes that it is imperative that companies really understand and define their purpose and that they do little things, otherwise known as Red Goldfish, that bring that to life.
  • To get started, Stan advocates doing three things:
    • 1. Figure out the spark behind how and why the company was started,
    • 2. Talk to your customers and employees and find out what they stand for and what they are passionate about, and
    • 3. How do those two groups see you as a company.
  • Once you have done that you will have made a great start to finding out what your company is all about.
  • Purpose should be at the core of everything you do, this should then be followed by taking care of your employees and then your customers. Doing things in that order will deliver the performance and returns that your shareholders desire.
  • Wow service or experience for Stan comes down to doing a little something extra. That doesn’t have to be something that delights, it could be something that just makes things easier for your customer. However, whatever you do needs to follow this acronym: RULES, where R is for relevant, U is for unexpected, L is for limited (i.e. something that is unique), E is for expression (i.e. something that is done with authenticity) and S is for sticky.
  • Take care of the customers that you have so that they bring you the customers that you want.
  • Please check out Stan and Graeme’s book: Red Goldfish: Motivating Sales and Loyalty Through Shared Passion and Purpose.

About Stan

Stan Phelps is the Founder of Purple Goldfish, a Forbes Contributor, IBM Futurist, and TEDx Speaker. His keynotes and workshops offered at PurpleGoldfish.com focus on how to create meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers.

Purple Goldfish is a think tank of customer experience and employee engagement experts, where they offer keynotes, workshops and virtual training to help organizations connect with the hearts and minds of customers and employees.

Stan is also the author of a number of books including Purple Goldfish -12 Ways to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth and Blue Goldfish – Using Technology, Data, and Analytics to Drive Both Profits and Prophets both of which we have featured on the podcast before.

Check out Stan’s new book: Red Goldfish: Motivating Sales and Loyalty Through Shared Passion and Purpose, his website PurpleGoldfish.com, connect with him on LinkedIn here and say Hi on Twitter @StanPhelpsPG.

Photo Credit: DaveBleasdale Flickr via Compfight cc

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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