Wednesday, May 10, 2017

10 Steps to ensure you create a Company Culture that helps your Clients

-  “A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation.”

Every company has its own culture, whether by design or by default. This culture expresses the personality of a corporation and is a reflection of a company’s beliefs, ethics, expectations, goals, values and its mission. This culture affects every aspect of the business including its relationship with other businesses and its relationship with its clients. A workplace should not be a place that people dread every day. On the contrary, employees should look forward to going to their place of work because they enjoy the challenges, their co-workers, and the atmosphere. While the work may be difficult, the culture shouldn’t add to the stress of the work.  

“Culture guides discretionary behaviour and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented client request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture their guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.”

How can we build a healthy company culture that benefits our clients?

1.    Employee Satisfaction
Employees who hate their jobs care less for the satisfaction of customers and the success of a company. By improving employee satisfaction, we can improve the interactions the employees have with their customers. Fair wages, vacation time, flexible scheduling when possible and a supportive management style can all alter corporate culture in a way that improves employee satisfaction, thus improving business relationships with the companies’ clients.

2.    Resource Availability & Skill Development
For the employees to bring out their best, it is imperative that they are made available all the possible resources that can help them improve their quality of work. It is extremely important to engage with the employees to know what they need in order to make their work more efficient and effective. The company must also ensure arming its employees with the relevant skills, either by sending them off-site, or by conducting webinars, meetings or training sessions which will help the employees to be better equipped to deal with the clients.

3.    Find a way to Communicate your Vision
It can’t be stressed enough how important communication is in order to create a healthy company culture. Whether it’s selling an idea to investors or selling a company’s culture to its employees, communication is one place where many leaders fall down on the job. If a leader is a great communicator, it’s pretty easy to get the culture moving in the right direction. It is paramount to find ways to share the company’s vision with the employees outside of our personal communication style to help them better communicate it to their respective clients. In a more conventional workplace, people function in isolation with limited communications which ultimately leads to developing a more perfunctory environment which leads to a bad client experience.

4.    Listening to the Employee’s Feedback
Employee-to-employer feedback is hugely underrated in companies of all sizes. It is of great importance to ask company employees how they feel about working for the company or what they like or dislike about it. It is also important to ask them for their suggestions on what can be done to improve the company’s work environment or what they would do differently if it were their company. Focusing on the employees needs and listening to them from time to time creates a positive corporate culture that ultimately translates into profitable business.

5.    Collaboration and Team Work
If we want to build a better work culture, collaboration should be an important part of every workday. This can be done by holding frequent brainstorming meetings and creating open spaces in the office where creativity can occur. Hanging up whiteboards, scheduling innovation retreats, and hiring people who dare to think out of the box. This helps people reach their full potential and there is also a better chance of the client’s problem being solved in a more efficient and innovative manner. The idea of accomplishing together as a team should be prevalent in a company’s work culture.

6.    Knowing that good decisions can come from anywhere
No one has all the answers. A company where only the management makes decisions and the employee’s impact on the business is minimal have a larger rate of attrition. Employees want to have a voice and a meaningful impact on the company and its direction. Knowing that good decisions can come from anywhere and expanding employee freedom are cornerstones of attracting talented individuals. Companies that build a culture where employees feel trusted and empowered to make decisions reap benefits. In a work culture like this team members take ownership of issues and work to resolve them in a positive manner which ultimately ensures a better client experience.

7.    Educated Employees Make For Educated Clients
Employees who know their company offerings inside - out are almost always among the most successful in their field. If a sales pitch is made by somebody who doesn’t really know what he is selling, it will weigh heavily on any decision to patronize that company for the second time. It literally pays to build internal training programs for your employees. It is important to make sure that the employees are not left in the dark about anything that can influence the customer’s experience. Employees should be equipped with informative resources such as articles or whitepapers to create better awareness. This way the company can ensure that correct information is transferred to the clients and they have no misconceptions. 

8.    Responsiveness to change
A well-developed culture brings a strikingly increased openness to change and the desire of the employees to make changes work. As trust and responsibility increases, employees don’t just initiate significant improvements in the ongoing operations but they also actively reach out to their environment, bringing forth an array of improved ideas and initiatives that make the company more market competitive. In a well-developed culture this information is smoothly connected to marketing and development.

9.    Creating a Reward based Career Progression Policy
Employees who worry about job security protect themselves first. When employees feel insecure about their jobs or operate within a false or misleading company culture, they prioritize saving their own jobs over solving customer problems. While it’s important to set ground rules, companies that want to achieve customer service excellence have to trust employees and give them incentives to do the right thing. It is important for them to feel like their place of work is safe and secure and they can focus on their work without always keeping a check on themselves.

10. Investing in Employee’s Passion
A company that invests in the passion of its employees can achieve a happy work force that turns an asset for the company. It is important to understand what each employee is interested in and then creating initiatives that help them pursue their interests. Engaging the employees in group activities and creating special interest groups generate team spirit and gives an opportunity to the employees to bond outside their place of work. It has been proven that when people are highly engaged with the company they work for, they are happier, more productive, loyal and enthusiastic about their work. This has a direct spin-off on the quality of their work, and when they are facing customers, their interactions with their customers are more relaxed and friendly. In fact, they will not only handle their customers better, but also take ownership of their work because they will take pride in what they do.

A common thread in all of these scenarios is that the employees develop and thrive in a culture that a company creates for its people which ultimately benefits the company. A company leader who wants to create a more collaborative, customer-focused workplace takes a look at each scenario and thinks about how his/her teams handle customer interactions and how they can create a company culture that can ultimately translate into a better business experience for its clients. This leader makes sure to give its employees the tools they need to effectively work together and solve problems, and ensures that they measure performance accurately to reward employees that work towards the company’s vision. It is believed that when you have the right tools and philosophy in place, you can start living your brand promise.

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