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5 Takeaways From Business History That Impact Today's Customer Experience


Thought-leading communication is shared. Key decisions are made. Innovations change the game entirely. But to borrow a tired, old advertising cliché, the customer must still come first.

We can learn a lot from our own history, as well as those around us. It’s true in politics, in pop culture, and certainly in business.

From the telegraph to text messaging, the steam engine to same-day delivery, technology continues to drive the evolution of how we conduct business. But the core commonality in every industry, every era — client satisfaction!! — hasn’t budged an inch since the Dutch settled Manhattan in 1626.

Thought-leading communication is shared. Key decisions are made. Innovations change the game entirely. But to borrow a tired, old advertising cliché, the customer must still come first. What we gather from the past can certainly shape a more formidable future for organizations ... and certainly their clients.

5 Customer-Centric Takeaways From Business History:

1. Wrigley chews on customer wants ... and then responds.

The story:  William Wrigley Jr. didn’t start out selling gum.

He moved to Chicago in the 1890s to pursue a career as a soap and baking powder salesman. On a whim, he decided to offer free chewing gum with his purchases. In perhaps the most pivotal moment of chewing gum history, his freebie proved much more popular than his actual product.
William took note, and went on to manufacture his own chewing gum brands, the ones we’re all familiar with today.

The takeaway: Never make assumptions about what your customers are asking for. Listen. Take notes. And then respond accordingly.

2. Apple memo declares that product adoption begins 'in-house.'

The story: Apple’s first Chief Executive Officer Michael Scott sent out this memo to the entire organization in 1980:

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!! NO MORE TYPEWRITERS ARE TO BE PURCHASED, LEASED, etc., etc.  Apple is an innovative company. We must believe and lead in all areas. If word processing is so neat, then let's all use it! Goal: by 1-1-81, NO typewriters at Apple... We believe the typewriter is obsolete. Let's prove it inside before we try and convince our customers.

It’s important to note the prominent role of typewriters at that time. Removing them immediately was a monumental decision. It was also an amazingly customer-centric one.

The takeaway: Prove your powerful product/service to yourself, before you try and convince your customers.

Imagine, for a second, the chef who never tastes his or her own food.

Before you push products, push yourself and your team to become experts on whatever gadgets, solutions, or services your company provides. Embrace continued learning and advanced training to ensure that you’ve tasted your food .... and it either tastes great already, or you know the right ingredients to add that will please any palette. 

3. Blockbuster hits the pause button on evolving customer behavior.

The story: At a Sept. 2000 meeting in the Blockbuster headquarters in Dallas, the at-the-time movie rental giant had the opportunity to purchase Netflix (for reportedly $50 million). But Blockbuster executives passed, figuring the dot-com hysteria was completely over blown and, in hindsight, failing to anticipate the evolution of client behavior.

Every movie-renter alive today knows what happened over the next 10 years. Blockbuster filed for Bankruptcy protection in 2010 and the last corporate store closed in 2014. Netflix, meanwhile, is a top-level media and entertainment company and a media streaming giant. 

The takeaway: Customer behavior changes continuously — it's up to you to change with it.

Technology – and its impact on your clients behavior – moves fast. When considering the changing world and, more importantly, the ever-adapting customer needs, fast forward your thinking. Keep an eye on technology and the world around you, at all times.

4. Co-CEO serves as an Oracle for innovation.

The Story: The late Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd had a well-documented reputation for getting things done.

Starting his day at 4:45 a.m. every morning (without an alarm), he woke up under the internal suspicion that a competitor on the East Coast could be getting an upper hand already. He became a human depiction of the philosophies behind execution and accountability.

But also, innovation.

Speaking live on the Oracle campus to a reporter in 2017, when asked about the rise of AI, automation, and their impact on existing jobs, Mark had this to say about innovation.

Our job is to get customers in a position where they’re the most efficient and effective they can be. Then I would think, move that investment to other areas so they can further their innovation. We should not get scared about innovation. It makes us more efficient and frees up capital for our customers to reinvest in other things." - Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd

The takeaway: If you’re not driving innovation at your organization, as a means to make your customers more efficient, Mark’s internal suspicion on competitors applies to you — your competitors are gaining an upper hand already. 

5.  NPS measures the customer experience with a more satisfying model.

The story: The Net Promotor Score (NPS) debuted in the Harvard Business Review in 2003 in an article titled “The One Number You Need to Know.”

The invention of Fred Reichheld, NPS changed the game in the way companies measure — and improve upon — the customer experience. A simple, 11 point scale that subtracts brand “detractors” from band “promoters,” the NPS system was simple for front-line employees to understand and is widely adopted today as a way to measure an organization's ability to provide an exceptional customer experience.

The Takeaway: The customer experience is everything today. So you'd better know your numbers. 

Develop a system that front-line employees will understand and readily adopt. If not NPS, what other methodologies are you using to measure both your service performance and the overall satisfaction of your clients? They're numbers you  need to know.

At Datamax, we know our numbers — and we think they're worth raving about! When asked, "how likely would they recommend Datamax to a friend or colleague," our customers have given us an average Net Promoter Score of 92.4 since 2012.  In addition, we measure the critical service data that's most relevant to our clients, including Response, Resolution and First Call Completion on copier-related service calls.

Want to visit more about our numbers - what data we track, how it's tracked, and what it means for our clients? Schedule a meeting to visit with a Business Technology Consultant today! 

Learn about what our service metrics can do for you!  ›

Topics: Creating Raving Fans Copier Service Net Promoter Score