This is the seventh of a series of interviews with CEOs that were included in a book I wrote in late 2010 called RARE Business. It was a collection of thoughts, ideas and strategies to help businesses ‘build better relationships with their customers and their people’. You can pick up an electronic copy of the book for free by clicking on the SECOND button down in the left hand column or by clicking here.
The interviews were included to supplement my own thoughts and experience and add richness, depth and context. In the interviews, I asked them what they have done to drive their business’ success, customer focus and how they have built their employee and customer engagement.
This time round it is the turn of Henry Stewart of Happy to share his insights. Stalwart readers of this blog will remember that I interviewed Henry back in December 2011 on a new book (The Happy Manifesto) that he had released. The book interview is here: Creating a great place to work is the best business investment decision you could ever make – Interview with Henry Stewart.
Anyway, on to the Henry’s insights that he shared for my book: RARE Business.
Founded in 1990, Happy is a management consulting, e-learning and computer training company with a mission to help other organisations create great workplaces. Happy was originally established as an IT training company that aimed to combine technical expertise and excellent training skills with an enjoyable learning environment. Since then the company has applied its methods to the areas of e-learning and management training. Their approach is based on years of experience in creating what is recognised as one of the best workplaces in the country, but also on what they have learnt from the other leading companies and those that they have worked with.
With around 35 employees, Happy Computers is not the largest IT training company but they do punch above their weight and they are the only training company in the UK to be rated in the top three by the Institute for IT Training (IITT) in each of the past three years.
Further, when we asked Henry about what was his proudest moment in business, he told us it was being awarded rated the best company in the UK for customer service (by Management Today) in 2002 and the 2nd best place to work in the UK (Financial Times) in 2007.
Henry Stewart, Happy’s CEO, agreed to talk to us and share some insights about what has made his business so successful in retaining customers, building a great team and driving repeat business and growth. Here are some of his unique insights:
- Unique approach. Happy has created a unique approach to how it delivers its services which focuses on the whole experience of learning and makes it really enjoyable. This means that people talk and recommend them such that they have a Net Promoter Score of 70%!
- Don’t part on bad terms. When we fall out with people and it doesn’t happen very often, we don’t sack people straight away. Our approach is that we help them move on to their next project. This means that even if we have had to part company with someone they still talk positively about us.
- Give your people trust, freedom and support and they will flourish. 18 years ago Henry read Maverick by Ricardo Semler and it changed his life. Before this he was guilty of micro-managing. Now at Happy they give people the space, trust and freedom to flourish. They support them not direct them.
- Recruiting made easy. The best bit about this approach is that it makes recruitment very easy. Happy has a 2,000 long waiting list of people wanting to work for Happy. The last time they needed new trainers, there was no advert, no consultant, no external cost at all. One email to their waiting list resulted in 92 completed online application forms and the recruitment of 3 new trainers.
This is another great example of an established business that is leading its industry, empowering its team and delivering value for its customers.
Can you learn anything from their approach?
Thanks to tim caynes for the image.