Company culture isn’t something you hang on the wall or have silkscreened onto a t-shirt — it’s nothing less than the message you send the world. It also happens to be vitally important for customer satisfaction and client retention.
Yes — the financial success of your company may very well hinge on the type of culture you nurture within the workplace, and it all starts with customer experience.
1. Use The Right Criteria For Evaluating Employees
There are many ways for the modern company to evaluate employees and gauge their success or failure. But making the right choices with respect to the things we measure can have a pronounced effect on both our company cultures and on our end-users.
What do we mean by this? For starters, it probably means doing away with aggressively mandated sales benchmarks or quotas, as Wells Fargo did recently. There’s nothing quite like a worldwide scandal to kick-start a culture overhaul, but chances are good your organization does business a bit more ethically.
Here’s the point: It’s time to start evaluating your employees based on what matters most. Namely, the experience of the customer. Sales numbers don’t mean a thing if customers aren’t leaving properly satisfied. After all — a single sale is good, but a repeat customer is best.
Take a moment to look honestly at the things you prize most highly within your culture. If you’re praising folks for sales numbers, but letting clients fend for themselves, you’re putting the cart before the horse.
2. Make Values An Integral Part Of The Hiring Process
What’s your hiring process like? Is there just one person overseeing it, or do you have family-style interviews when you’re considering bringing someone new on board? These are important questions to ask, since company culture lives and dies based on who you’re hiring.
While we’re at it, here’s another question: What do you prize more highly in a prospective new employee — values or skills? It’s arguable that most skills necessary for employment in modern America can be taught. But values? Values can and definitely do change throughout our lives, but they’re harder to teach or “train away” than “ordinary” skills.
The point here is to hire based on values, rather than on hard skills. Again, culture in a modern business setting is determined significantly by the values your new hires bring to the table, so look for people who exhibit qualities that lend themselves well to customer experience. Things like timeliness, respect, sound judgment, common sense and a talent for listening are all hugely important for customer-facing positions.
Why is this significant? Because the buying experience is a huge determinant in whether a customer will return for more. As many as 70 percent of all buying experiences are determined by the customer’s impression of how they’ve been treated by employees.
3. Educated Employees Make For Educated Clients
How often are you complimented for your command of the spoken word? Do people say you’d make an excellent teacher, or commend you on explaining things well?
Employees who know their products inside and out are almost always among the most successful in their field. If you’ve ever watched a product demonstration or listened to a sales pitch made by somebody who didn’t really know the material, you know it’s a painful thing to behold — and likely something that will weigh heavily on any decision to patronize that company for a second time. Given all that, it literally pays to build your internal training programs with the end-user in mind.
In other words, don’t leave your employees in the dark about anything that can influence the customer’s experience. Take the time to create comprehensive guides on each product or service you offer, and make sure there’s a process in place if employees have questions or need to seek out additional material.
And when you’re putting materials together for training seminars and the like, include informative resources, articles or scientific white pages so your employees and clients alike know you have the backing of outside sources.
4. An Empathetic Company Is A Successful Company
Did you know that five of the top 10 most empathetic corporations are companies based in Silicon Valley? It’s true — and it’s also true that these are some of the most profitable companies in the world.
But what makes them so successful? Part of their success must come from the fact that they “came of age” during a time of unprecedented technological breakthrough — particularly in communication. And since communication has made the world feel like a smaller and more interconnected place than ever, fewer and fewer customers are willing to patronize corporations that aren’t mindful of their place in the world.
Things like civic engagement and sustainability are consistently ranked atop lists of qualities most highly prized by prospective customers. And that means any company that doesn’t prioritize these things in its culture is going to get left behind.
Yes, it’s true — activism is “in.” But don’t just check this off a list and call it a day — really take the time to become a citizen in your corner of the world. What needs does your community have, and how can you help meet them? What social issues mean the most to your employees? Becoming invested in every level of community and society tells your customers you’re not just in it for the money — you also want to make a difference.
You may have noticed that much of our conversation here revolves around making your culture more accurately reflect your customers’ values and what’s happening in their lives and the areas they call home. That’s no accident. Customers enjoy shopping and doing business with people and organizations that reflect their values, so make sure you’re paying attention.
This article was written by William Craig from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.