thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Making a Difference

By on July 18, 2012

When we say the phrase “Make a Difference,” I’m willing to bet that most of us immediately think about making this difference in the community: volunteering at schools or prisons, philanthropy, or other roles that need to be done and that make us feel good about ourselves.

Tell me, however, why we can’t also make a difference at work? Why do we have this flat-line mentality at work — putting in our time, earning a paycheck, so that we can do what we want to do when we leave?

Well, this is slowly changing — for the better. is well-known for its 1-1-1 model. It donates 1% of the company’s time, product and finances to organizations working to drive positive social and environmental change. More than 200,000 hours of employees’ time have been volunteered to non-profits in 70 countries. Other companies are starting to make similar types of efforts and that’s good. However, what about the other 99% of our work time? What if we could transform that other 99% to hours that made a difference in the world and particularly with our customers?

WD-40 is an amazing, visionary company with a clear set of values. They sell a variety of products, from the traditional WD-40 lubricant, to 3-in-1 oil, and cleaners for carpets and bathrooms. Their goal is to become the solutions for “doers” that they turn to first to get their job done.

Their CEO, Garry Ridge, told me, ”We are in the business of creating positive lasting memories for our customers.”  That mindset keeps their customers at the center of all activities. He also said, “One of my passions about leaders is that they don’t ’sit and quit.’ Leaders must educate if they want their tribe to be enduring.”  Knowing “Who do you serve?” drives frequent internal improvements for customers.

The WD-40 Company is making a difference for its customers with new ideas and creating a community of passionate customers in their Fan Club, with over 150,000 members. It’s time that more companies follow its example.

Customer-centered businesses are empowering their employees to make a difference while they are at work, not just after they leave. If we want to make the world a better place, part of that effort happens when we can create really great new ideas for our customers — ideas that make people more productive. That focus will make a difference in their lives and the world.


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