Kirk Kazanjian is a well-known speaker and the bestselling author of some two-dozen books. He is also an internationally recognized expert on the investment markets and has served in various executive roles within the financial industry. His latest book, Driving Loyalty, contains a proven formula for delivering exceptional customer service, creating a high-performing work environment, building strong brands, marketing effectively online and off, and, in turn, powering overall performance. It is based on the principles of Enterprise Holdings, which owns the Enterprise, National and Alamo car rental brands. Driving Loyalty has received high praise from some of the world’s top business leaders.
Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.
Sure, thanks for having me. I’m actually a lifelong entrepreneur and have been involved in marketing and customer service since I was about ten. That’s when I started my first company, providing entertainment for kids’ birthday parties. That led to hosting my own children’s TV show while I was in junior high. When I got to high school, I loved to travel and wanted to start my own airline. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the funds for that, so I started my own travel agency, becoming the youngest accredited travel agency owner in the nation at 14. The agency grew to be very successful as a result of some unique marketing campaigns and our focus on providing excellent service. I wound up selling the agency when I graduated from high school. The proceeds paid for my college education, and allowed me to start building an investment portfolio at an early age.
How did you transit from broadcasting to a bestselling author and an authoritative voice for business treads?
When I went off to college, I really wanted to do three things: Write and work in broadcasting, be in business and have something to do with the investment industry. I concluded that the best way to actually do all three things was to become a TV news reporter specializing in business stories. So, I studied all of these fields in college and landed a job as a TV news anchor and reporter literally the day after I graduated. After doing this for four years, I grew really passionate about the stock market decided I wanted to work in the investment industry, rather than just reporting on it. So, I left the TV news business and became an investment advisor. Given my inkling to write, I also managed to get a literary agent and began authoring books on investing. Ultimately, I decided I liked the marketing part of the business more than the day-to-day investment process, so I transitioned over to that and have been there ever since. It’s really the perfect field for me, because I get to combine my love and knowledge of the investment business with my writing, marketing and customer service background. To answer the second part of your question, after writing more than a dozen investment books, back in 2001 I convinced my editor to let me do something a bit different. I was fascinated with how Krispy Kreme had grown so fast through innovative marketing and creating cult-like customers. I suggested that I write a book talking about the company’s formula for success. She agreed, and thus began a career of studying and writing about the best practices of some of the world’s leading companies, largely as it relates to marketing, cultivating loyalty and taking good care of customers. Interestingly enough, I got the late Dick Clark to write a foreword for that book. He was a huge Krispy Kreme fan, and had appeared on my TV show when I was a kid. Talk about being a small world!
Tell us about your latest book “Driving Loyalty”.
“Driving Loyalty” shows how to turn every customer and employee into a raving fan for your brand. The book discusses all of the elements that must be in place to make this happen. You have to build the right culture, hire the right people, train them appropriately and market effectively. What makes the book unique is it shows how to do all of these things, instead of focusing on just one aspect. I use Enterprise Holdings, which owns the Enterprise, National and Alamo brands, as a case study throughout the book, because the company has done such a great job at driving loyalty across its entire customer base. I also throw in a lot of examples from other companies and some of the best practices I have used in my own career over the years.
Define “Excellent Customer Service” in three adjectives.
Caring, committed, empathetic.
1 + 1 = 10? Could you briefly explain?
That has to do with the power of partnerships. In the book, we talk about how joining forces can turn 1 + 1 into 10 for your business. For instance, if you’re a small business and are able to form an alliance with a huge organization, suddenly your standing, reputation and potential customer base can grow exponentially overnight. We have a whole chapter in “Driving Loyalty” devoted to the importance of forming effective partnerships.
Any upcoming projects or initiatives you would like to discuss?
At the moment, I’m quite busy talking to folks about “Driving Loyalty” and with my day job as head of marketing for one of the world’s largest financial services organizations.
What would you consider as your one best achievement thus far?
That’s a tough one, but I’d say being able to accomplish most of the goals I’ve set out to achieve throughout my life. Even when I can’t quite make it all the way to my top goal, such as owning my own airline when I was a kid, I’ve found a way around it that satisfies essentially the same desire, such as forming my own travel agency.
What are your leisure time activities?
Who said I have any leisure time (smiles)? Seriously, writing for me is a leisure activity, though it’s hard work as well. But in my off-time I also love to travel, workout and try new restaurants.
For more details visit www.kirkkazanjian.com
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