Now that customer-centricity is the top priority for the C-Suite, business leaders from all areas are faced with the imperative of transforming the customer experience. But, what does that entitle and how will it affect your business? Where to start?
In many ways, the modern business landscape feels like a battlefield… and your company is stuck in the middle. Without reinforcements, you’re left wondering how you’ll ever navigate the constant onslaught of increasing customer demands, supply chain struggles, and more.
Luckily, you have a secret weapon and it’s been next to you all along.
That’s right: we’re talking about company culture and how this often overlooked element of your business can help you rise above the competition in more ways than one.
A close look at company culture
What is company culture, anyway?
While you might think of mission statements and catchy slogans, the real soul of a business is manifested through behaviors:
- How employees are treated
- How employees treat customers and business partners
- How employees treat one another
Simply put, company culture is all about shared values. It’s an aggregated version of everyone’s perspectives and opinions that creates something that’s uniquely yours. That means your culture may shift in small ways as new people and ideas enter the company, but for large-scale change, you’ll need to go beyond your purpose statement to influence the underlying infrastructure of mindsets and motivational factors.
However, not all companies operate this way. There are two basic structures:
- Rules: When a business is based on rules, there’s a handbook —sometimes literally— telling people how to behave. This creates significant limitations, especially as growth leads to new needs and experiences that may not be covered in a set of concrete rules. Plus, if it’s necessary to amend the handbook in order to respond to a certain issue, customers and other stakeholders are left waiting for decisions to be made.
- Values: When a company culture is based on values, it gives employees the respect and autonomy they deserve. Instead of telling workers how to do things, this culture encourages them to fall back on shared principles to decide how they’ll respond.
To utilize your company culture as a secret weapon —one that lets you overcome competitors, deliver unforgettable customer experiences, and win employee loyalty even in difficult circumstances— you need to throw out the rulebook.
How to build your company culture
It might be alarming to throw out the guidelines governing your company, but the truth is that you only need one rule to build your company culture: the golden rule.
Treat customers and coworkers exactly the way you want to be treated.
Of course, that’s a broad value to pursue, which means it may be helpful to create a foundation using three key pillars:
Define your purpose
Give your people a purpose and they’ll know exactly what they’re striving for. This helps shape your company culture and bring teams together in pursuit of shared goals. As a result, your brand will stand out from the crowd, showing customers that you know what you want and how to get it.
Rely on data
It’s easy to let feelings take the wheel when dealing with customers, managing a team, or navigating stiff competition. The problem is that feelings are fickle, which means they can’t be a solid foundation for your company culture. Let the data do the talking instead. Clear, objective facts give the truth a voice and help bring attention to coworkers and customers who may not be adept at voicing their feelings.
Align your approach
Once you have your purpose and your data, all that’s left is to make sure these two elements are working together. To do that, you need to compare your ideal company culture to your goals and key performance indicators. When you notice overlap, take note: this is where your entire business will be most aligned, harmonized, and ready to work together toward something greater.
Pitfalls in cultural transformation
Even with the best intentions, you may find that ideal company culture to be elusive. If that’s the case, you might have stumbled onto a few of the most common pitfalls in cultural transformation:
Trying to change too quickly
Change management is a critical part of company culture. If you try to abruptly switch lanes, your employees are likely to feel a significant disconnect, as if they’ve lost part of their identity in the shuffle. Remember to make changes gradually and manage transitions from a place of togetherness, instead of making executive-level decisions without any input from other teams.
Using the wrong incentives
If your company culture puts a high value on productivity, you might think monetary incentives are the best way to inspire employees to do their best. However, the truth is that emotional and psychological encouragement tend to reach deeper. By winning hearts and minds instead of wallets, you’ll end up with teams who feel like they’re an organic part of your company culture.
Changing from the ground up
It’s tempting to start cultural transformation at the lowest level of your company and work your way up. The problem with this approach is that there’s no guiding light — no shining example. In fact, the ideal way to develop and protect company culture is to start from the very top. It’s been said that the “C” in CEO stands for culture, and with the right behaviors and values from leadership, your company can prove it.
Forgetting about customers
When you’re focused on internal affairs, it’s easy to forget company culture is occasionally customer-facing. The good news is that customers can actually help shape your culture… if you give them the chance, that is. To do this, ask why your clients choose your brand and what they expect from you. This will help you determine your differentiators and capture the values that make your company unique both inside and out.
Become something new
Your company culture needs input from both employees and customers to become a secret weapon — something new, authentic, and increasingly competitive.
At Alida, we know that means being good listeners. That’s why our Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Employee tools are built to help you learn more about what makes your company unique — and how to capitalize on that.
Get in touch today to start building a company culture you can be proud of.
Ashutosh leads CX Consulting & Services (EMEA & APAC) at Alida. He has been helping Global brands transform their customer experience, and thereby help scale up their customer acquisitions, retention, Up/ Cross Sells and Referrals. His unique 360 degree experience across Sales/ Marketing leadership, Customer Success, Brand/Product Management & Digital Transformation helps him be holistic in his approach to CX Transformation.