Wow Over Win? Why ‘Nice’ Still Matters in Company Culture


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Visitors to Boise, Idaho, often report that there’s something a little different about the locals. It’s hard to pin down the personality of this slightly-square-step-sister of a Northwestern US city. In Boise, it’s no surprise to hear gratuitous “how are yous.” Nobody seems nervous when an Uber driver strikes up a conversation, or if a complete stranger at the coffee shop pays for your drink … just because?

Boiseans (boy – see – ens) are protective of their sweetheart reputation. Downtown at the wildly popular lunch spot Bleubird, a sticker at the register reads something to the effect of, “This is Boise. Be nice.” — lest you forget where you are as the sandwich line pours out onto the sidewalk.

With so many nice people in Boise, not to mention the low cost of living and excess of easily accessible outdoor recreation, it’s no wonder businesses are moving in droves to set up shop in the Treasure Valley.

“Technology, meet Nice. Nice, meet Technology”

Even the tech industry has found its way to Idaho, and it’s ditched the pop-culture stereotypes about tech that we’ve learned through films like “The Social Network” and TV shows like “Silicon Valley.”


Rather, the tech industry is acclimating quite well, and adopting a “Boise Nice” mentality seems to be working in its favor.

The cloud-based time tracking software company TSheets, for example, is blowing up in Boise’s “rural” suburb, Eagle.

Experiencing Real People

The Customer Experience department at TSheets is a labyrinth of high-volume multi-taskers. Over here, a rep rocks on a yoga ball while typing up a report and joyfully answering the next incoming call. Over there, another inquires about a customer’s boat as they swipe through screens, channeling every resource available to find the best solution to the challenge.

Comments about this customer experience team are constantly rolling in. You have been so lovely to speak with. And It’s always a pleasure. Sometimes, Are you on Facebook? One customer even offered to make a batch of cookies for the team.

Wow over win?

Obviously, customer-facing employees can make or break your business. And though we bloggers have wrung the company culture topic dry, little has been said about fostering a culture of genuinely kind people who play nice. With the weight of winning on the shoulders of every small business owner, remembering to “wow” customers can easily take a backseat to more do-or-die issues.

No matter where your company hangs its hat, customer reviews are more important than EVER before. What people are saying about how your team treated them over the phone, in person, or online is a major factor in gaining interest in your product (and getting people to pay good money for it).

But you don’t have to be in Boise to hire nice people.

With reviews holding so much weight, companies need employees who can really empathize, find a good reason to care about the customer, and treat every customer like an old friend, regardless of how long it might take. The “wow” that a customer experiences when they receive above-and-beyond service can propel the company to five stars.

At the center of everything is your employees. They’re the voice of the company — and they’re the holders of a very heavy tray. TSheets can’t give away all of its secret sauce to getting great reviews through customer service, but here are a few key takeaways.

Be the example. The Harvard Business Review presented research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to make the case that employers being severe with employees could be an expensive practice, as occupational stress is related to higher turnover. Aside from simply keeping your employees around, try to be a pillar of kindness by showing your them how valuable they are. That could mean anything from competitive compensation, flexible work schedules, exciting events, and paid time off.

Encourage momentum after a win. After receiving a fantastic review from a customer, TSheets’ CEO Matt Rissell sent a note to the team, thanking them for their hard work and reminding them to keep it up:

“The experience we provide our customers, from software development all the way to sales and everything in between, is truly Best. In. Class. Many companies talk about ‘customer experience’ and ‘customer success.’ Very few actually deliver.”

Cultivate Gratitude. At TSheets, it’s more than ping-pong. Employee appreciation reaches every corner of the company through bi-monthly updates, almost constant virtual high fives and thank-yous from colleagues, appreciation weeks for more behind-the-scenes work (like the one held recently for the engineering team), and impromptu surprise parfait parties for the Customer Experience department.

Can’t Win Without a Wow

Focusing on the “wow” by cultivating a team of nice people — go for Boise Nice — who’ll go far out of their way to make a customer happy is the key to winning. When it comes down to it, it’s a really simple equation:

Wow = win.

Kim Harris
Kim Harris is a copywriter and blogger based in Boise, Idaho who has been putting her journalism background to good use telling true stories and helping businesses grow since 2008. Leaving the Bay Area after college resulted in a three-year adventure abroad and an impressively high tolerance for spicy food. When she's not writing at TSheets, you'll find her freelancing, queuing up entertainment, and plotting her next escape.


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