Throughout this book, you will be receiving what I found to be a constant source of joy: learning about actions, often bravely undertaken, that elevate companies, and forge genuine and caring bonds between employees, customers, and companies.

After studying hundreds of these forward-thinking organizations and leaders, I’ve distilled their impact down to six most common among them in advancing their practices and operations. In this book, you’ll learn about many companies whose actions changed the course of an entire industry. Then you’ll learn about others whose strikingly simple actions had lasting impact on their culture and business.

One Action Can Open the Door.

The power of make-mom-proud actions is that, once put into place, they set others in motion. They give people permission to do the right thing. As you’ll see in the case studies, any one of these simple actions can start a groundswell for good. For example, in the chapter “Be the Person I Raised You to Be,” you’ll learn about Cleveland Clinic’s transformation. It began with the commitment, accompanied by an investment in training and communication, that everyone in the organization was considered and given permission to act as a “caregiver.”

Years of actions later, which built upon that commitment, they are rated the number two hospital in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

Actions for Hiring and Development Set the Tone.

Brand storytelling for customer journeys and business leadership

You will see the deliberate and well-orchestrated actions that make-mom-proud companies take to hire people whose values and behaviors are in sync with their own. Pal’s Sudden Service, a drive-through restaurant based in Tennessee with twenty- six locations, enlists a 60-point psychometric survey to determine whether the teenagers who will deliver food to your drive-in window or make your burger will sync with the values of the company and the team they will join.

They then receive more than 120 hours of training and ongoing mentoring. Their turnover is one- third the industry average, and they have lost just seven general managers in thirty- three years. Pal’s enjoys one of the highest revenues per square foot in the quick-serve restaurant industry.

CEO Thom Crosby connects this to the company’s teams, and how they are hired and developed.

Human and Mindful Actions Create Joy.

The make-mom-proud companies provide opportunities that enable their people to take spirited actions, and to be authentic in their gestures and behavior. First Direct Bank took the action to have a human available every day, 24/ 7. And the humans you reach have your back, and permission to do what’s right for you. Every person whom customers reach is trusted to change processes, procedures, and policies to improve their situation. Ninety- two percent of First Direct customers say that they would recommend the bank to someone else.

Acts of Trust Are Necessary.

Lemonade Insurance puts trust first in the manner in which they fulfill member claims. On the Lemonade app, members chat with Lemonade’s bot, AI Jim, who asks about what caused their claim. Next, “he” asks them to sign the honesty pledge on the app— a vow made not only to Lemonade, but also to the other members who benefit from fairness in reporting, claims, and payments.

Brand storytelling customer journey mapping

Finally, this oh-so-smart and mom- like company, via the person of AI Jim, asks customers to look him in the eye and record a video oath with the reason for the claim. On Lemonade’s transparency blog, where it freely shares its performance, it was noted that Lemonade has captured 27 percent of policyholders who are newcomers to insurance in their current New York market area. There is power in the attraction of truth and trust.

Clarity of Purpose Actions Show the Way.

REI generated an estimated 6.7 billion media impressions as it fearlessly closed its doors to encourage everyone to #OptOutside on Black Friday. Starting with the simple question “How do we want to show up during the holidays?” REI’s purpose inspired customers with this action heralded the world over. More than seven hundred companies banded together in REI’s movement, and hundreds of state parks offered incentives to get people moving and outside on Black Friday.

Financially, REI continues to grow, while its comparable competitors are struggling. Like REI, research proves that organizations who lead with clarity of purpose and deliver on that purpose can outperform the market by more than 350 percent.

You can hear from Lee Einhorn, one of the creators of the REI #OptOutside campaign, on this episode of the Business of Story podcast: Show #119: How REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Reflects a Powerful Brand Purpose.

Brand storytelling customer journey, Virgin Hotels

Acts of Fairness Earn Word of Mouth and Growth.

Virgin Hotels decided to act with fairness by eliminating “nickel and diming” at their hotels. There is no charge for Wi-Fi. “Bandwidth is a right, not a revenue stream,” Virgin communicates to its customers. You also won’t get dinged for room service fees or add-on service charges. And there are no fees for early or late check-in. What’s getting them the most word of mouth and buzz is their “street pricing” on minibar items.

They charge you in the room what you’d pay at the corner market. “We shouldn’t feel like ‘we’ve got you,’ ” says CEO Raul Leal in rebuffing fees customers often feel imprisoned by at other hotels. After only its first year of business, the Virgin hotel in Chicago was named the number one hotel in the United States by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.

“High Road” Actions Earn Love, Admiration, and Advocacy.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library took the action to get rid of late fees. Its objective is to help kids meet their summer reading goal, not worry about that ten-cents-a-day fee. The first major urban library in the United States to do this, its action focuses the organization back to its mission.

There is a bit of tracking: you’re asked to get that book back in 28 days, which is reasonable. Automatic renewal has been put in place so that instead of calling your book late, it is renewed back to you. Because of this act and many others, the Columbus Metropolitan Library is one of the most progressive and acclaimed libraries in the United States.

In our lives, we remember the companies, the people, and the times when we were honored as a friend, as a partner, as a customer. Two-way trust, open and honest communication, and fearless sharing are cornerstones of the relationships that come to mean the most to us. And these feelings hold just as true in both our personal and business relationships.

These foundational behaviors we learned as kids stay with us all of our lives. Perhaps that’s why they are so important as we evaluate the companies and people we want to stay in contact with and do business with.

Picture your mom.

You’ve pictured your mom. Now, as we close this chapter, picture your life as a customer. Then picture your customers as they seek support, value, and the delivery of your promise. Picture their lives as your customer, and what they think about in those moments. And how they feel.

Picture your mom’s face. Or picture your friend’s mom’s face. Picture her life. And decide what impact you will have on it. As you serve your customers. As you affect their lives while you process their paperwork or fill an order. As you make leadership decisions.

Now, ask yourself. Do you ever have to take an action or approve an action or drive your company to take actions that you’d never, ever do to your mom?

Picture Mom as you make decisions and see what happens differently in your business, in your interactions, and in your life. Because at the end of the day, your decisions are what affect customer experiences. They drive customers to either stay with you, or leave you.

Our collective decisions tell each customer a story about who we are, what we value, and about the role we choose to play in their lives.

How we choose to correct something that goes wrong— how steadfast we are in delivering the goods, ensuring quality, and keeping our promises— tells customers about how much we think of them on the end of our decisions. And that’s what shows up on the internet. That’s what grows or gets in the way of our business growth.

You hold the power to improve customers’ lives.

To make a choice when you act, when you decide, when you choose to react or respond. Simply pause and think: Would I do that to my mother? Then, examine and guide your behavior, take the Stop the Shenanigans Quiz-Would You Do That To Your Mother?

(This is an excerpt from Jeanne Bliss’ new book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? – The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers, now available on Amazon.)

Download the first chapter of Jeanne Bliss’ new book here.


Learn more about winning over your customers in the eighth issue of the Business of Story online magazine.