Imagine you walk up to a hostess stand at a restaurant, she looks at you, and you notice that she’s on the phone. You wait. She gets off the phone and continues to look down at the computer. You stand there looking around waiting patiently for her to look up again to let her know you have a reservation.
She gives you no motion to let you know she will be with you in a minute and no eye contact after her call was concluded. You stand there waiting for her or someone else to acknowledge your presence.
What is your first impression? What does this experience tell you about the culture of the organization? What might this tell you about their training?
At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking about your own experiences where a visit to a restaurant left a bad taste in your mouth. If the company espoused that they were a customer-centric organization, there was clearly a breakdown from what they say and how it is demonstrated in every day interactions.
As your business grows, expands, or merges, it’s more important than ever to actively and intentionally focus on the company’s culture particularly if you want outcomes to align with your Contribution, Vision, Mission, and Values.
Below are thought-provoking questions to explore how well your company’s culture is demonstrated in every day operations:
1. What is your company’s Contribution in the World?
You might have a vision, mission, or values, but do you know your company’s Contribution in the World? Today’s consumer is looking to do business with brands that have a broader impact. What are the outcomes of your products and services? Do you communicate the Contribution in every process of your organization, like interviewing, onboarding, and team meetings to give a meaningful context from which you create ideas, products and/or services?
2. Is team training at all levels in the organization a priority?
Training is not a “set it and forget it” task. Remember that you have both internal and external customers. Everyone needs to know how their role impacts the customer inside and outside of an organization. Integrating training might be easier than you think. Set a time on your monthly team meeting agenda to review a company standard and the specific behaviors the employees are expected to deliver that’s consistent with your vision and culture.
This would have been helpful training in the scenario described above. A small gesture immediately acknowledging the customer or a simple “I’ll be with you in one moment” would have gone a long way in the customer experience.
3. Are you intentionally celebrating wins?
Are you going on to the next thing without stopping to smell the roses? When you notice a team member performing well, acknowledge and recognize it. If one of your values is Excellence, you can use this time to reinforce what Excellence looks like while acknowledging best practices.
4. Are you modeling your standards?
Treat your team the way you want them to treat the customer. Ask yourself if you’re modeling the very behavior you want to see.
5. What’s your customer feedback process?
The most valuable feedback comes from your both your internal customers (employees) and external customers. While it’s important to solicit feedback it’s equally important to take consistent action on that feedback. There’s nothing more draining than to ask your employees for their opinion and do nothing to address it. Establish accountability processes to ensure that action is taken consistently to address their feedback.
6. Have you empowered your team?
If so, what does empowerment look like? What are the possible options that are available to your team when working with the customer? When they know what options or parameters to satisfy a customer, they can help the customer on the spot. It’s also important to roleplay with them while being trained so they recognize the scenarios when they happen.
As your business grows, so is your need to get things done with and through your team. Continuous process improvement and training that supports the Created Culture is key to continued and sustainable growth.