Forbes recently released its 2013 Forbes Billionaires list. Believe me, I wasn’t waiting on pins and needles for this to come out. I just happened to hear it on the radio and something caught my attention. No, it wasn’t the fact that this is the first time since 2000 that Warren Buffet was not in the top three. And no, it wasn’t that Amancio Ortega of Spanish retailer Zara, made it to number three for the first time. But it does have to do with Zara, the company he founded.
Zara’s success can be attributed to their supply chain speed and customer-centric approach. Clothes move from concept to design to stores within days. But the real secret seemed to be their pulse of the customers. They listen to their customers and are attentive to their needs. How? Through their employees. While most organizations have a centralized customer team, who usually is in charge of customer surveys and feedback, among other responsibilities, Zara zeros in on employees who contact headquarters daily with customer needs. If someone wants a shirt in a certain color, that information gets transmitted immediately. No waiting for customers to fill out surveys, and with a typical response rate of 5%, would it even be helpful?
How empowering is that for an employee to be able to advocate on behalf of the customer and provide quick results? The entire process is a win-win for the company and for employees.