Inspiring Companies

24 06 2010

You can also get an audio version of this podcast here: Listen!

As a consumer I constantly look out for businesses that are distinctive, that offer value for money, that deliver great products and great customer service.

As a Business Designer I constantly look out for great companies as sources of inspiration, across all types of sectors, and use these as best-in-class examples to learn from.

Often these two coincide – I find businesses that really make me happy for some reason and I share these with friends and family when they ask for word-of-mouth recommendations; but I also share them with my clients and use the things that make them unique to help create a vision of what clients could be doing for their own customers.

Increasingly I find myself drawn to Authentic Businesses i.e. those who focus on long-term sustainability and display a true sense of purpose, respect their stakeholder needs, act with integrity, are distinctive in their market, and are environmentally conscious.

I have started to develop a list of these inspiring and authentic companies, and you can take a look at the blog-roll on the right where you can link straight through to their websites. If you search the web about any of them you will probably find other interesting comments and articles and video’s about them too.

Finally, I am constantly on the look out for more Inspiring Companies to learn from and so invite you to leave a comment and share your own sources of happiness and inspiration if you think they deserve mentioning…

James Rock

MD & Chief Business Designer – CULTIVAR Consulting

Partner – Authenticis


A really Authentic Business example

11 12 2009

Yeo Valley Foods are an inspirational example of an Authentic Business. The company is pioneering new ways of working with its suppliers and creating true partnerships. It’s this kind of practice that will change our health, our environment, the way we eat and the way we live.

In the video below Graham Keating, who was Managing Director of their Organic range before becoming Communications Director of Yeo Valley Foods, talks about the business, its values and purpose…

For the better. Purer produce. Peace of mind.

Big businesses using social media to improve customer experience

14 05 2009

As a consultant working in the field of service management I am always looking for examples to use with customers.

Last week I had a really great personal experience of how a big business can use social media to improve customer experience.  After a frustrating period of service problems with my home broadband connection I posted the following post on Twitter in conversation with my friends: “Good Morning All! I ask myself “will today be another frustrating Battle with Virgin Media day”?    

Imagine my surprise when @VirginMedia tweeted back to me shortly later to ask if there was any way they could help with my problems.  I was impressed that they are not just listening but also pro-actively getting in touch. After an exchange of emails to explain my problems I was called by someone of influence who listened to my issues and set someone to work on solving them. This was an unusual and suprisingly refreshing experience I have to say.

The next train of events resulted in the VirginMedia representative not just resolving my issues, but also understanding where some of their internal processes and systems could be improved to prevent similar things happening for other customers.  I have to report that their service recovery was brilliant. It reminded me that the true measure of a good service company is how well they recover when the inevitable service issue arises.  When the problems were eventually closed I tweeted again a short message to say how pleased I was: “those nice folks @virginmedia proactively tweeted me to find out and sort all my problems and made me a very happy customer again…”  It was only a few minutes later that I got a message back thanking me for my positive endorsement.

I think this is a great example of a company using Twitter to listen to the opinions of customers.  In doing so they not only put my problems right but also turned me into a strong advocate for their services.  The several hundred people who listen to me, and in turn to their friends,  now know that I rate the VirginMedia service highly and that is important in today’s word-of-mouth marketing world.

I think more companies should take heed and embrace Twitter and other social media platforms to engage with customers for mutual benefit.  Why not try it and see the results for yourself. Get in touch if you would like to discuss how you can integrate Social Media into your service operation.

James Rock  or find me on Twitter: @james_rock

On-line Video : The marketing tool for 2009

13 02 2009


You may have noticed that more and more leading brands are using on-line video as a key marketing communication tool as broadband speeds get faster, WiFi ever more accessible, and with everyone having a PDA or phone with fast internet capabilities.

This isn’t suprising.  Video has many advantages as a communication tool.  Messages can be conveyed quickly and in an entertaining way.  Everyone watches TV and increasingly that is delivered via the web.  In a recent survey I noticed that Generation Y consumers watch more TV delivered on-line than via terrestrial/satellite/cable television. They also spend increasing amounts of time on-line using sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc. On-line video meshes neatly with social media as it can be delivered via complimentary platforms such as Youtube, Vimeo, or iTunes.

I also read a really great blog about this subject by renowned social media guru Scott Monty, you can read this too if you click on this link:

This trend is also evident from the increasing amount of enquiries I am receiving from customers who are starting to understand the powerful capabilities of marketing via social media. This is something Cultivar can help clients with via our video and website production partners. Contact me if you would like to learn how we can help you to do this.

James Rock