Written by Kristin Muhlner
CEO of newBrandAnalytics
When Lonnie first asked me to write a guest post for his blog, I was admittedly a bit dubious. Although our companies have a number of shared customers, as often as not, we find ourselves competing for opportunities or for the limited budget of a new prospect. Nonetheless, our companies share a real passion for customer success, and as we have talked about the concept of Red Shoes, we have found that the desire to create standout experiences overrides any competitive tension that may exist, and in fact, helps create better outcomes.
Although each of the Five Pillars of a Red Shoes Experience rings true, it’s the idea of putting myself “out there” that has surfaced time and time again in my own career. I will admit I’ve often fallen pretty short. The willingness to be vulnerable, to stand without my emotional armor and experience the world, is counter to everything we are taught about business. Be tough! Never show your weakness! Never admit defeat! And yet, when I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable and to admit that perhaps I don’t have all the answers, I’ve found my collaboration with colleagues to be more authentic, more real, and more rewarding.
Most of us remember how this lesson was hammered home in the classic “Miracle on 34th Street.” When Kris Kringle advises a Macy’s customer to shop at another store, the store management is delighted to discover that rather than harming the business, he is generating excellent publicity and goodwill. An executive I admire once described this to me as “the courage to be bad.” We often find it incredibly difficult to admit that our product doesn’t fully meet a customer’s need, or that we don’t have the perfect solution, and instead try to dance around the issue in order to win a deal. Most of the time, we find that in our attempts to be all things to all customers, we ultimately fail them.
Being willing to put ourselves out there doesn’t mean that we are weak. On the contrary, it takes incredible bravery to allow ourselves to be fully seen, as Brené Brown has so eloquently described (see her excellent TED talk on the topic here). We create Red Shoes Experiences when we act a little silly, when we let our inner twelve-year-old shine through, when we’re painfully honest.
To both create and receive Red Shoes Experiences, we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.