The right company culture is an essential ingredient in a business’s recipe for success. With six in 10 respondents to the 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey stating they chose their employer based on its “sense of purpose,” it’s an important tool in recruiting and keeping talent.
But it isn’t just important to employees; it’s important to customers, too. Eighty-two percent of people now believe that culture offers a competitive advantage, and the best businesses are harnessing that knowledge to ensure their employee engagement results in genuine improvements to customer service.
Rocksauce Studios’ Teething Problems
We learned this lesson the hard way. Our business wasn’t functioning well, and we weren’t meeting our clients’ expectations and needs. The problem didn’t lie with the manufacturing of our products — it was a deeper issue within our culture, and we needed to improve interactions between departments, leadership, and individual team members to find the path to success.
Poor internal relationships between team members led to poor external relationships with clients. If an internal team is overlooked, undertrained, and undervalued, those problems will be reflected in the organization’s interactions with others, wasting time and damaging client relationships.
As a relationship-focused company, we needed to get our culture in order. We were determined to find new methods to improve our customers’ experience, keep them loyal, and help Rocksauce grow.
How We Changed the Game
The first step that CEO Q Manning took was to place honesty at the core of our values. In leadership meetings, he emphasized the importance of underpromising and overdelivering.
That doesn’t mean that we sell ourselves short; it means that we’re honest about our capabilities when we’re talking to our team and our clients. Going beyond those limits is always a pleasant surprise for everybody.
But the change didn’t end there. We also adopted a few rules to guide how we manage our internal relationships:
- Be available and present for the team’s needs.
- Be willing to share the company’s good news and wins.
- Exceed the expectations of the team.
- Communicate the company’s direction.
- Ask for feedback, and always follow up.
- Say “Thank you” every day.
And those rules translate to our client experiences, too. The way our team members feel correlates to the way they value our client relationships and project management, and something as simple as saying “Thank you” can go a long way.
Globoforce found that 55 percent of workers would leave their current company for one that recognized its employees’ efforts, and Millennials place high value on feedback and recognition. This makes recognition a key pillar of any company’s culture.
Rebuilding Culture the Right Way
Looking to effect cultural change in your organization? Here are a few steps to get you on the right track:
1. Identify your team members’ needs.
Knowing what your team members expect and want from their roles will help you learn how to properly value them. What responsibilities do people want? How do they like to be rewarded when they do a good job?
This knowledge translates to identifying your clients’ needs, too. Knowing what everybody expects from the get-go opens up communication and helps avoid problems down the line.
Your core culture isn’t something you impose upon your team. You need to choose one that aligns with pre-existing expectations and qualities. If you match your communication strategies and team playbook with the needs you’ve identified, everybody will feel better about the environment.
The same goes for your clients. Don’t build a product based on your own expectations — build it to meet your customers’ needs instead.
You can’t adopt a set-it-and-forget-it mentality with your company culture. Regular check-ins are essential to ensuring your team is still happy. And no, annual performance reviews aren’t enough.
We talk to every team member at least twice a year outside of our performance reviews to measure their satisfaction. Every meeting teaches us something new, and we evaluate that new information to find ways to change. We apply the same method to client satisfaction — we don’t send out surveys every day, but requests for feedback can go a long way toward showing clients we care.
A promise isn’t worth a dime if it’s broken. You can promise the world to your employees to motivate them, but if you don’t keep that promise, morale will suffer sooner or later.
Keep your culture realistic: Make promises you know you can keep, and aspire to do even more. Your team and your clients will both appreciate the effort.
These four simple steps are all you need to foster an improved and responsive company culture. And not only will that culture keep your employees engaged and happy, but with enough effort, it will translate to your customer service, too.