“I travel all the time,” says Guy Kawasaki, author of the wonderful new book, Enchantment. “It’s the little things that get to you. I go into the hotel room and I’ve got a Macbook. And an iPhone. And an iPad. And possibly a MiFi which enables me to make my own network. That’s four devices. I put my bag down. I sit at the desk and what do I see? A power outlet with two plugs, and one is already taken for the lamp. So now I have one plug for four devices. So that means I also have to carry a power strip with multiple plugs.
“But if I didn’t bring one, I end up charging my iPhone in the bathroom where it’s going to get wet. Has anyone in the hotel management ever stayed at the hotel and asked themselves would be the first thing a business person would notice? One plug for four devices. Has anyone in management ever taken a serious look at the room?”
He continues: “Or consider this: you pay $400 to stay at a fancy hotel, and they tell you have to pay another $19 a day for wireless Internet. Meanwhile across the street at a lower standard hotel chain, it’s $80 a day and free wifi. A charge of $19 a day is not going to break me. So I sign up for it and what do I get A 1 megabit download speed. I feel like I am back in the old dial-up days.”
Kawasaki is not enchanted.
Enchantment is now a business imperative
Kawasaki’s book defines enchantment as “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization or idea. The outcome of enchantment is voluntary and long-lasting support that mutually beneficial.
His book is one of group of new books that recognize that businesses have to go beyond satisfying the customer. If they are going to flourish in a world where the customer is the boss, they must delight them.
“Enchantment can occur in villages, stores, dealerships, offices, boardrooms and on the Internet. It causes a voluntary change of hearts and minds and therefore actions. It is more than manipulating people to help you get your way. Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers… When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight.”
“Enchantment is a process,” says Kawaski, “ by which you improve your likeability, trustworthiness, the quality of your idea, product, cause, whatever. It leads to relationship that is not transaction-oriented any more. It is longer and deeper and more delightful.
Enchantment may mean doing less
Enchanting your customer may mean that doing fewer things will enchant your customer more. If you can find out what the customer really, really wants, then you may be able to focus on that and stop doing things that the customer doesn’t really care about. “Enchanting the business person in a hotel room,” says Kawasaki, “is not about putting warm chocolate chip cookies on the pillow at night. You want to do that? God bless you. It’s a cute little thing. But when I come into a hotel room, forget the chocolate cookies and give me enough power outlets!”
Which firms are enchanting their customers?
“The relationship that people have with computer companies other than Apple,” says Kawaski,” is primarily one of transactions. By contrast, Apple has delighted people and now they have Macs, and then they buy a iPhone, and an iPad. Next thing you know, it’s iTunes, it’s iBooks, you’re standing in line waiting for this stuff. That’s enchantment.”
Virgin America is an airline he looks forward to flying on.
He also sees lots of small businesses and startups enchanting people, even though they are not household names.
One that Kawasaki likes is Kogi BBQ, which offers a combination of Korean-Mexican food. The business has about a dozen trucks and around 83,000 followers on Twitter (@kogibbq). It sends out a tweet that it will have a truck on a certain street corner at a certain time. When they show up, there are 50-100 people who are ready to buy their tacos. That’s customer delight.
How do you communicate enchantment to the C-suite?
I asked Kawasaki how he goes about communicating enchantment as a serious business proposition to CEOs, CFOs, and other senior managers, for whom enchantment could mean something about kids’ fairy tales. How does he get them out of that world and persuade them that they need to be in the business of enchantment?
“The best way is to use examples,” says Kawasaki. “Wouldn’t you like to have the evangelistic base of Apple or the likeability of Virgin America? Wouldn’t you like customers to trust you the way they trust Zappo’s, so that they will buy shoes, sight unseen? Even the most hard-core pencil-pushing bean-counter will have to say, ‘Yeah, I wish we were Apple or Virgin America or Zappo’s! That’s not such a bad place to be.’”
I asked Kawasaki what happens when he makes the sale and persuades the firm to embrace enchantment? What then?
“You need to realize,” says Kawaski,” that enchantment is like fitness. Fitness is a curve. You can be Lance Armstrong, or you can be really out of shape at the opposite end. People enter the curve wherever they are and then they can move up the curve, by better nutrition and better exercise. The same is true of enchantment. I’m not talking about ’60 days to miracle enchantment’. It’s not that easy. It starts with the CEO. If the CEO is an untrusting and untrustworthy person, you will have to overcome that CEO.”
How is the Fortune 500 doing on enchantment?
I asked Kawasaki where are companies in the Fortune 500 in the curve? He believes that most of them are towards the wrong end of the curve. That’s because they are larger. They are older. Typically the founders are long gone. Maybe a private equity firm runs the place. There are a lot of things going on, he says.
“Startups without a lot of venture capital have to enchant people,” says Kawasaki. “Otherwise they don’t survive. By contrast, startups with a lot of venture capital can blow it continuously for quite a while. I’ve seen a lot of those. Money is often the enemy of enchantment. Even those startups that do start out enchanting people—something happens to them along the way. It’s called MBAs.”
The three pillars of enchantment
“The three pillars of enchantment,” says Kawaski, “ are likability, trust and product. There are various companies with various degrees of each of those. Apple is great on the product side. VirginAmerica is great on the likability side. Zappo’s is great on the trustworthy side. If you had a company had all three, you would own the world.“
“It’s a process,” says Kawasaki. “And it’s takes time. Top management has to agree to it. But it’s the middle and the bottom that are customer-facing people that are going to first execute it.
Kawasaki doesn’t want to have a CEO to buy his book at an airport and then come into the firm one morning and say, “Today, we’re going to start enchanting.” The employees’ eyes will roll and they will be thinking, “O God, the CEO has just read a new book. First, it was this. Then it was that. And now it’s enchantment. This is the latest fad du jour.” It needs to be something more permanent than that.
Where to start on enchantment?
Kawasaki suggests starting at the most customer-facing place in the organization. That may be the sales force or customer service. That’s the place that has the most contact and will have the greatest short term gain. It’s there that you will get quickest realization that it works or it doesn’t. Enchantment can’t cure everything, but it is a way to improve customer relationships.
Kawasaki believes in small incremental steps. “Let’s say that the people are skeptical as they reasonably should be of any new idea. Let’s take the case of a hotel. Then one might say, ‘Let’s look at our rooms. Are we enchanting our customers?’
“It’s the little things like giving enough power outlets in the hotel room for business travelers, or dropping the extra charge for wifi connection. You proceed step by step, perhaps trying it in one department, or one store or hotel. I’m certainly not advocating a massive re-write of the employee manual.”
A user’s guide to enchantment
Enchantment is a practical, not an academic book. It’s not a view from 50,000 feet. It’s about how to do it, like blocking and tackling. Kawasaki doesn’t see himself as a consultant, or a motivational speaker. He sees himself as a business person who happens to write. He is coming from the direction of implementation. It’s part of his personal goal of empowering people. Putting practical suggestions in people’s hands so that they can get on and make it happen.
It also happens to be a beautifully produced book, with delightful black-and-white drawings and photos. Enchanting!
Guy Kawasaki: Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions (Portfolio, 2011)