Corporate culture is critical to customer relationships.
Whether it’s healthy or not, your corporate culture shows.
Is your business is having a fantastic year? Thank your customers. But first, thank the employees who make it happen. If your success story is a little slow to materialize, blame the market, competitors or out of control costs. You might be right. You might also be overlooking a key source of concern: an ailing corporate culture.
Executives often dismiss culture as the “feel good” domain of HR professionals, which is a big mistake. Exceptional leaders understand that culture is crafted from the top down, and it’s a key indicator of the health and welfare of your corporate vision.
Here are five ways your corporate culture influences business success:
1. Caring or callous?
Employees who care treat customers well, employees who don’t, won’t. Some people naturally have a more caring and compassionate nature, but caring can be instilled in your culture as well. Do managers and executives know people by name? Do they take time to ask about interests, hobbies, family? If so, is this sincere or a simple formality?
Showing care and concern for others, both personally and professionally, makes a difference. When a caring attitude is part of everyday work life, it quickly extends into customer interactions with a similar approach.
2. Ethics are contagious.
If you want employees to deal ethically with customers and suppliers, start by modeling appropriate behavior within your firm. Little lies or half-truths from leaders suggest that it’s ok to stretch the truth. Once people cross that line, it’s hard to remember where it was in the first place.
Things like fudging on expenses (“Don’t worry, I can write this off”), stealing supplies or purposely undermining coworkers may seem like minor infractions. People notice. They get the message and before you know it, customer relationships suffer from suspicion and lack of trust.
3. Going the extra mile.
If going above and beyond is recognized and rewarded within the company, employees are more likely to do what it takes to meet customer needs. Do managers go out of their way to communicate effectively with employees? Do they work hard to solicit feedback and act on concerns?
If shoddy work is routinely accepted, when people drop the ball on projects without consequences, these habits will extend to interactions with customers. Emphasize follow-through, attention to detail and a “make it happen” approach internally and enjoy the same level of accountability when dealing with customers.
4. Empowered for action.
When employees know they have the latitude to act on issues that arise without fear of micromanagement of retribution for coloring outside the lines, they also feel empowered to creatively address customer concerns.
While bending the rules isn’t good, creating a framework within which employees have flexibility to make decisions is empowering. It shows trust for employees and encourages actions that support co-workers as well as customers. Let employees demonstrate that they have the ability and desire to make things happen, and customer loyalty skyrockets.
5. Do the right thing.
When you treat your employees well, insisting on professionalism, respect and consideration, it shows inside and out. Like creating an environment of trust, mutual respect and the commitment to “do the right thing” increases employee commitment.
Employees who know that they will be treated fairly even when the news isn’t good will extend the same courtesy to customers. Instead of placing blame or shirking responsibility, companies that value integrity emphasize honesty, candid comments and making it right.
How’s your business doing?
Do you recognize your business in any of these scenarios? Do you have teams or departments that serves as models for good or bad performance in these areas? Spend some time exploring the standouts and make changes if necessary.
Your customers and the bottom line will thank you!