Happy drivers

On the box the other night I caught the latest Skoda advert, proudly displaying their new tagline ‘Manufacturer of happy drivers’. It’s a great ad (using unexpected sounds appeals to me); you can see it here. And what a fantastic change it is for such a large company to put the focus so much on the customer, not on the "brand" or product. Of course, it could all be moonshine, but companies nowadays should be wary about talking what they can’t go walking. If you see what I mean.

As the wise people know, creating passionate users – in other words happy, satisfied customers – is the an important key to being successful long-term. Being the only, or cheapest, or most powerful will work for a time (being all three will work for a lot longer) but if you want people to stick with you even when your competitors get plentiful, cheaper, and have more features, you’ll need people to be – not just happy – but passionate about you and your products/services.

A quick real-life example. I was in a restaurant about an hour ago and while I was waiting I overheard a conversation between a couple and a gentleman at the bar. The gentleman asked the couple if they visited the restaurant often, and the couple said they went every week. In fact the gushed about how much they love the place (it is a great restaurant) and I’m sure that gentleman went away with a very positive impression of both them and the restaurant.

How much do you want people to be passionate about what you do, so much so they act as a salesforce and evangelism team all by themselves? It’s worth the time and trouble to make them happy, I think.

You may have notice I didn’t link to the video on the Skoda site itself, but it’s a shining example of how to get it wrong (in fact their main site is a mess as well). It’s a shame, because not only is their site design very simple (and rightly so, it’s a refreshing change from the Flash-heavy monstrosities you normally get with car manufacturers) it’s actually been done relatively recently, as the use of .Net technologies testifies to. Don’t tell me it’s impossible to create a decent, web-standards compliant website using .Net because it is – I do it every day at my new company. They may be in the mood for creating happy drivers, but creating happy browsers is obviously not high on their list of priorities.