October 15, 2013
As I travel around the world to give speeches or to consult, I'm often asked about my experience working for Mark Cuban. While many are curious about what it was like to work for him, some dig deeper, asking for my opinion about his secret to success.
My answer is always the same: He understood how to build powerful customer relationships. Beginning with his first startup (MicroSolutions), he adopted a manta: Make Love, Not War. I've met several of his former clients, and they've all remarked about how responsive he was to their needs, even when they seemed overly demanding. He'd personally visit their office, getting underneath desks if necessary to check wiring. He'd answer emails in the middle of the night without any grousing. It endeared him to customers that usually had to fight to get their value from solution providers.
When I went to work for him at AudioNet (later to become broadcast.com), he repeated this mantra often. He explained that too many companies often go to war with clients that don't easily fit into their value chain. Make money or war was their approach.
In Cuban's view, the secret to customer success was to find out what they liked, then give it to them consistently. He believed that a service provider needs to design their company around the customer's needs and wants. He didn't just talk this game, he lived it daily.
If there was a disagreement about the quality of our service, the customer was right and the invoice was torn up. If a customer felt slighted, he or she was welcome to contact Mark directly to resolve the issue. The culture of his startups was about being tuned into and responsive to the desires of the customer - and not the investors/owners.
That's why he retained customers even though he operated on the bleeding edge of technology, where failure was a commonplace occurance. In this sense, it works just like our personal relationships. If we make love, not war, we are often forgiven for our imperfections. Or as author Steve Farber once told me, "If you are an electrician, and your client loves you, you can burn down their house they they'll say 'accidents happen'!"
For more, read his book: How To Win At The Sport Of Business