While running the government like a corporation is a Donald Trump aspiration, there are obvious differences that make the comparison somewhat ludicrous. However, given Trump’s penchant for the idea, let’s round out this month’s Costco-focused customer service series with an evaluation of how good a job he’s doing taking care of his “customers” (the US population).
With Costco as a shining example of superior customer service, let’s compare and contrast.
Sucking up to shareholders versus satisfying customers. Costco’s outspoken policy of valuing its model even amid shareholder criticism is a bold stance. In contrast, Trump convincingly is governing to support and reward his financial stakeholders and core supporters—the rest of the public be damned. This is a very typical corporate policy, so it’s not surprising Trump would support it.
But, from the perspective of a customer service commitment to satisfy the lion’s share of “consumers”—in turn leading to loyalty—he gets a big kudon’t. Granted, a recent approval rating nearing 50% was actually higher than Obama’s at the same point in 2010—but, based on his corporate-oriented governing style, his customer service is sub-par at best. The constituency where he seems to score well is Republicans; however, they constitute less than 50% of the population. If Costco essentially told more than half its customers to get lost, they wouldn’t be sitting nearly so pretty.
Employee hiring and treatment. Hiring practices that lead to the best people in their jobs is a major Costco plus. Their retention is legendary. Trump? Fuggedaboudit! Citing a Washington Post story from last spring,
“Trump is running America just like his businesses — right into the ground…Consider Trump’s personnel choices. In both private and public enterprise, he has loaded up the payroll with incompetents, self-dealers and family members…In the White House, Trump has likewise surrounded himself with sycophants, fixers and telegenic attack dogs…Despite the president’s alleged business savvy, Trump’s hires are not exactly selected for their experience or expertise.”
As for employee treatment, the number of White House staffers leaving their posts doesn’t speak well to an employee culture where competence, motivation and high morale in turn reward customers. Again, he gets a big kudon’t.
I win, you lose. Trump’s zero-sum gain model based on someone winning at the expense of someone losing is an ineffective customer service policy warranting another kudon’t—to say the least. In its simplest terms, the zero-sum gain corporation aims to win at the expense of the customer. Costco proves that a win-win model works extremely well—they’re in excellent financial shape, due in large measure to exceedingly high customer service ratings. Both sides are winning. Trump is mired in a traditional model that increasingly is being upbraided by innovative, invested companies such as Costco and Amazon.
As the United States is not a corporation, trying to run it as one is an exercise in comparing apples and oranges. While there are corporate characteristics that can be very appealing (e.g., cutting through red tape), attempting to run the US like a company is running us—its customers—into the ground. You listening, Donald Trump? Obviously not.
This is the final installment of a four-part series on companies exemplifying superior customer service and employee treatment—and the rewards accruing to their bottom lines and shareholders in the process. It’s a win-win model that exposes the zero-sum gain model of “I win, you lose” as an absurd and ineffective way of doing business.
ICYMI: PART 1: Costco prioritizes customers, employees over shareholders
ICYMI: PART 2: Drilling down further into Costco’s formula for success
ICYMI: PART 3: Costco vs. Amazon: No knockout punch in sight
Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage, Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm celebrating 36 years in business in 2018.