Tag: customer experience strategy

Alignment and Sustainability

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments and a way of keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our SERVICEBRAND perspective is on organizational sustainability but, ultimately, the sustainability of all organizations is dependent on the sustainability of our planet, and we wholeheartedly support the urgently needed overdue efforts in this area.

Due to the vast scope and nature of the subject, there is no universally agreed definition on what sustainability means. Every nation, business, organisation, and individual has a different idea on what it is and how it can be achieved. Sustainability is not a new concept, with many indigenous peoples across the world having long histories of living in balance with their land and ecosystems. But the idea of global sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the World’s first Earth Summit in 1992.

The original definition of sustainable development is usually considered to be: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Organizational sustainability

A lot has changed since that first summit, there have been many variations and extensions on this basic definition. Business sustainability may therefore be described as cohesively managing and integrating the financial, social, and environmental facets of the business to meet the needs of the present without compromising future performance. It is about creating ‘long-term’ value for all stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, service partner organizations, local communities… and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

When taking a closer look at organisational sustainability, it often looks at two key areas sustainability practices have the greatest impact on. These being the effect on society and the effect on the environment.

The best outcome of a sustainable business strategy is to make a positive impact in both of these areas, by producing a product or service that is of benefit to society, while not negatively impacting the environment.

Often organisations will prioritise societal convenience over protecting or limiting their impact on the environment, and because of this, show no care or attention to either of these areas, while also failing to take responsibility for the damage they cause. It is because of this kind of behaviour that we find ourselves facing the challenges of deforestation, baron soil, water poverty, social injustices, and famine, to name a few.

Alignment

Societal and environmental stability don’t always have to be at odds with financial gains, there is space for them to align and provide the best possible outcome for the organisation and for the people and spaces it affects. This is what is known as a shared value opportunity. When you align your organisation with social and environmental needs, you will be able to drive positive financial outcomes with positive deeds. The more consistent and sustainable you are, the more likely customers and service users are to engage with you, and most importantly, stay with you.

Convenience has long dominated business focus because it works for short term profitability. But it is not good for the long-term goals of anyone involved. It can be harrowing to shift your organisational strategy away from a convenience led, fast profit model. But the long-term benefits far out way the short-term losses.

How to begin?

Realignment takes time and can seem overwhelming, but it will make a huge difference to the organisation’s future. Becoming a sustainable organisation requires being open to considering factors that previously hadn’t been a priority. How your decisions will affect the environment, the economy and social issues should always be considered when developing effective strategies. When you understand your impacts, it helps prevent the pile up of longer-term liabilities or crisis’s.

Thanks to dedicated climate and social scientists, it has never been easier to measure and reduce our impact on the world around us. From apps that help track and off-set carbon emissions, to water conservation, rewilding and forestry schemes, even renewable energy incentives.

Why should I?

Investors and rating agencies are increasingly considering businesses’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, as sustainability moves up the political agenda. Social risks are typically those that affect the community in which a company operates, such as through health and safety, working conditions or economic opportunity.

As an indicator, ESG news in April had almost double the coverage compared to November. Investors are anticipated to spend $1bn on ESG data tracking by 2021 (20% per annum growth). BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink has committed to making sustainability the new standard for investing (for the nearly $7 trillion in assets that the company manages) and has outlined several practical ways in which this will be progressed.

Global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative which aims to tackle harmful emissions and waste across fashion industry supply chains. This will allow fashion brands to source raw materials and track their sustainability, providing them with greater transparency over the environmental impact of their supply chains.

SERVICEBRAND

When you are able to align your organisation with sustainability goals, you establish a powerful narrative, one that connects you to your consumers and services users through mutual understanding of the responsibility we all share to make our planet a better and safer place to live. We here at SERVICEBRAND aren’t about lip service, we are here to help you create sustainability strategies that see you transform the way people recognise you, helping them to engage with you in a more long lasting and purposeful way.

Values are for living, not laminating

Developing values

So many people have stated that the last eighteen months have caused them to reassess what is important in their lives, or in other words their values. When you consider that 33% of people feel their work and personal values don’t align, it’s no wonder that it is a challenge to develop and implement corporate values and grow a healthy values driven culture.

How often have you found yourself asking someone why they do the work they do, only to be told, for the money?

The word values is now so commonplace that sometimes the meaning is forgotten. Core values are traits or qualities that represent deeply held beliefs. They reflect what is important to us, and what motivates us. For an organization, values define what it stands for and how it is seen and experienced by all stakeholders (customers, employees, service partners, suppliers, and communities).

Values act as guiding principles –as a behavioural and decision-making compass. In an organization, values (explicit or implicit) guide every person every day. They are the foundation for the way things work, providing the basis of the corporate culture. For individuals, as well as organizations, values sit at the gateway between our inner and outer worlds. They describe what is fundamentally important and meaningful to us and relate directly to our sense of purpose and to our needs as individuals to survive and thrive.

Understanding different types of values

Values are a vast a complex subject matter. It will never be as simple as saying “we believe in compassion” because different people might have a different idea of what compassion means and looks like, based on their own experiences.

So, when starting to examine what your organisational values might be, you might first wish to consider what the core essence of the organisation is and what makes you different. This will help you get to the heart of who you are, what truly matters, and how to go about living it, in an authentic way.

If you set values with only colleagues in mind, they won’t represent your business, customers, or service users. The same is true when creating values based purely on your perceived notions of what the customer wants.

Understanding values isn’t about putting some words up on a wall. It is about honest identification of your organisations purpose and the style in which this will be achieved, being consistent to different stakeholder groups.

Disconnect between what is and what should be

Creating values driven organisational culture is complicated – if it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. It is alright to ask for a little help, when coming to new and different ways of doing something. But if you are here, it is because your ideal culture isn’t aligning with the reality of how things actually are.

Understanding and engagement is key, and what is hard to tell is easy to teach. How many times have you attended a meeting or huddle where the boss has espoused a new plan or set of values that are now who we are. No feedback, no involvement or recognition. Just this is it. Live it.

If you are familiar with this scenario, you’ll know enforcing values seldom works. The weight of having to internalise a whole new set of values in order to be considered competent, can often lead to far more misunderstandings and frustration.

Imagine being told one of our new values is ‘open and authentic communication’ only to be ignored or to live in fear of actually reporting things to higher management. For the longest time, fear, power, and respect have been used as motivational tools to enforce workplace productivity. But they have a critical failing. If the people working for you don’t feel able to communicate honestly about the issues they are having on the ground, you will always be working with the wrong information. This builds further resentment and frustration from the top down, because in appearances everything is fine. But the numbers don’t lie.

It is far easier to live values by example than by dictation. If you value open communication, all you have to do is communicate openly, and this will teach those around you how to do so as well. (Prepare yourself, thicken your skin and remember “critique of your management style is not a personal attack”.)

Putting values at the centre of everything an organization does is the starting point to create a strong and authentic brand. This is particularly relevant for service organisations where people are a core element of their proposition. But the focus on values needs to be sincere and authentic rather than a lip service PR campaign and, remember to lead by example.

Weaving real commitments into lived values

To create an impact, core values need to extend into the day-to-day fabric of the organization and be a reference for decisions and behaviours at all levels, influencing people daily.

“Values are for living not laminating.”

Those in different places in an organization see evidence of culture and values differently. For example, those at the top, rate tangible KPIs (key performance indictors) as demonstrative of organizational culture (e.g. financial performance, competitive compensation); those lower down rate their personal experience as important evidence of ‘values’ (e.g. open communication, employee recognition, access to leaders). Both are important forms of evidence that should be considered when developing and implementing any change in workplace culture.

Rules vs Values

Once you have established a set of values, they should represent you, informing all who come into contact with your organisation, what you are about. Hiring, promotion and dismissals should all be aligned with your values too. Get the right people in the right places and watch your organisation transform!

Values play a much more effective roll in workplace culture than rules do. It is impossible to always monitor everyone at your organisation, not to mention uncomfortable and toxic to have the need to have to do so.

When all your practises are aligned, you don’t have to worry as much about enforcing rules, because you’ll know who you are and have values driven processes in place to hire people that fit your organization, and thrive on your encouragement, rather than suffer under your thumb.

SERVICEBRAND

Why not connect with us here at SERVICEBRAND to see how we might help you identify you values and cultivate a plan to help shift organisational culture towards a values-based system that will increase the wellbeing of everyone at each point of service.

Why Organisational Alignment with Service Partners Matters.

As previously discussed alignment looks at how well an organisation functions as whole. But how can we function in a complete and meaningful way, when most people put no stock in the power of vertical and horizontal alignment?

More organisations are connecting to the idea that vertical alignment can benefit their overall longevity and profitability. Yet, those same organisations seem to put limited stock in the idea that horizontal alignment with service partners plays an equally important role.

Vertical alignment

Vertical alignment within an organisational context, is the way resources and strategies are engaged in the same direction to work towards to the organisation’s goals, mission, or purpose. Having this kind of vertical alignment as a main focus, drives every part of the business the same way. When this happens everyone involved knows what they are contributing towards, and that their contributions are valued as a small part of a larger whole.

Vertical alignment also encourages efficiency from the top down and bottom up. Those at the top will know their front facing employees are aligned with the organisation’s values and mission. These felt sensibilities are passed onto the customer through them. In return, lower-level employees will feel valued and able to express their experiences up the ladder in a way that sees changes made to retain proper alignment. If you don’t know how your employees feel about your management, or aren’t sure if they understand your organisational values, it’s time to ask them.

Horizontal alignment

As well as aligning from top to bottom, it is also possible and important to align across all areas of connected business. Any company, organisation, or business that you work with, even if not a part of you directly, is still an important part of your eventual success. How clear you are about who you are as an organisation, and how well this aligns with the values and purpose of the people and groups you do business with, will define how beneficial and long lasting the working relationship will be.

Alignment between organisations and service providers

As well as vertical alignment, horizontal alignment is an important, if underrepresented concept. Many studies and personal opinions show, that while people are starting to understand the importance in aligning vertically, the major still aren’t considering horizontal alignment with service partners/providers as being of the same importance.

Aligning expectations

In order to find the right service partners, managing expectations and creating an environment of effective communication is key. If your organisation is not well aligned vertically, and struggles to communication its values internally, how can you hope to express yourself correctly to any service providers you may need to work with.

Money makes the world go round, but it is not the only factor that should be considered. Look carefully at who you say you are. Is it clear? Can anyone looking in immediately know who you are and what you stand for?

The same applies when considering who to partner with for services or outsourced production. Alignment won’t exist in organisations that claim a set of values that are not adhered to in all areas of business. Even down to selecting who to work with. Customers can always detect inauthentic businesses, those that claim to have a strong set of values, yet partner with organisations that don’t represent those same values at all.

Communication is key, you have to be clear about who you are and what you expect from your service partners. Once engaged by you, they will become a part of who you are. If they don’t understand what you represent, how can they communicate your brand, message and values to your customers or service users?

Post-pandemic opportunity

The pandemic has offered a rare opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate and reconsider some of their service arrangements. As more service providers realise that value delivery is just as important as service delivery.

What gets done is important, but even more so is the way in which it is achieved. Claiming to be an organisation that values service quality, who then outsources part of their offering to people who aren’t paid a living wage or trained in any way to represent the business in the right way, will always negatively affect customer relationships.

Cheaper is easier, but it isn’t better. There is a unique opportunity now to renegotiate these relationships, so that they better reflect the type of organisation you are striving to become. So that your values are understood, not only internal, but externally, across all customers and service providers.

SERVICEBRAND

Those that aren’t considering both forms of alignment are missing an opportunity to generate lifelong customer loyalty and sustainable market share, through a more consistent approach to business and organisational management.

If you are having trouble with organisational alignment, the SERVICEBRAND approach provides a framework, which can facilitate the creation of joined up approach to help you create a more aligned and thus more efficient organisation.

Values and Reconnection post COVID-19

Some of the greatest ‘awakenings’ in the world have come about as a result of disruption. Disruptive events allow for a brief surfacing, a moment of crisis that generates a pause, and in that pause, there is space for reflection and rumination on what is truly important, as well as room for spontaneous and adaptable inspiration to strike.

For individuals, as well as organizations, values sit at the gateway between our inner and outer worlds. They describe what is fundamentally important and meaningful to us and relate directly to our sense of purpose and to our needs as individuals to survive and thrive.

The measures taken to combat COVID-19 enforced a new normal of separation and isolation. As we are gradually emerging from this crisis, perhaps we will come back together with a new and better understanding of who we are and what truly matters to us.

We are shaped by what we care about, the way people feel about their offices, homes and work are important factors in the overall success of the organization. Employees who feel their values are being met, those that are engaged by a clear and consistent set of values with which to align themselves are far more likely to be reliable, productive, and fulfilled.

Employee disconnection

Individuals and organizations face disruptions all the time, sometimes they are minor and manageable, like the retirement of valued colleagues or supply chain issues. Other times they are more serious, like the recent wave of increased cyber-attacks, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the most startling findings to come out of the pandemic, and the rapid shift to remote working, has been the dramatic increase in productivity. At a time when people were panicked about trusting their employees to continue performing well without near constant oversight, they have risen to the occasion with over 71% of organisations saying that remoting work either boosted their productivity or didn’t limit it.

Identifying values

Communication is key in identifying values. A select group of senior leaders distributing a list of values and demanding that employees embody them is not likely to be successful (surely no organization would entertain such an approach – you might be surprised!). Neither is it necessary (nor sometimes appropriate) for all employees to have the same degree of influence in making the decision. What is required is clear and consistent communication explaining the process to arrive at the values, the reasons behind it and the opportunity for questions and answers..

Communication can be tricky. As William H Whyte said in ‘Fortune’ magazine in 1950 “The great enemy of communication, we find, is the illusion of it.” Having a full office doesn’t necessarily mean you have good communication, and, in the same way, having remote workers doesn’t always mean they will be left out of the loop to fend for themselves.

Seeking to identify your organizations values will help to drive performance (and profitability), by aligning everyone with the same sense of collectively built purpose and establishing ‘the way things work around here’.

What matters to me?

Before we are able to fit in with a group, we need to spend some time identifying what matters to us as individuals. The impact of the pandemic forced a dramatic shift in consciousness, with many people reassessing the relative importance of family and work and some realising that an office environment is not the most suitable for them.

Figuring out what matters to us is not an easy task and it can become more of a challenge when we try to then align ourselves with an employer that fits our self-perception and matches our values. In the long term however, this values aligned approach can lead to greater clarity and a sense of fulfilment.

Hybrid disruption

Some people thrive in a fast-paced office environment with clearly marked start and finish times, while others prefer working in solitude at a pace that is suitably flexible to their needs. How well your organization manages the balance between rigid structure and flexibility will define how well it bounces back from the disruption of the pandemic.

According to Microsoft, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to stay, but this is contrasted with 67% who also want more in-person office work/collaborations. This study highlights what we are all becoming aware of; Hybrid work is here to stay. But care needs to be taken not to make this a binary conversation about working in the office and working from home. The place of work is just one dimension, and the real question is “How can leaders enable employees to be as productive as possible, individually, and collectively, in delivering the organization’s values, purpose and business objectives?”

Flexibility will be the key to navigating this new normal. Changing from a micromanaged office environment to a hybrid one is going to take some getting used to. But it also presents an opportunity to dial your values, and to practise trust with your employees. If your purpose as an organization has been clearly communicated, and your values are lived, it becomes easier to trust your employees to make decisions aligned with that ethos.

Inclusivity

Inclusivity is not about micro managing, it’s about well-being, ensuring that all colleagues, whether working from the office or remotely, know they can count on the support they need when they need it. Are you making sure that remote workers are still offered a (video) seat at the table, to keep them represented and involved. How will you protect office colleagues from bearing an unfair amount of the workload purely due to their proximity or ease of access.

It will be trial and error, and a strong set of working values will help align everyone with new working practices and minimise the risk of an ‘us verse them’ culture developing.

Lastly, don’t panic, people had similar reservations and fears when adapting to the increase of a night team/working culture, but over time that has become a key part of our infrastructure, as Hybrid arrangements are becoming now.

SERVICEBRAND

The impact of COVID-19 has demonstrated how we are much less restrained by location and traditional working hours than we previously thought. It has helped us see how we can build fit for purpose work environments in our living rooms and offices, to maintain our organisations in a time of severe uncertainty.

Having everyone in the same room doesn’t automatically mean they are connected; the connection comes from a sense of shared values. These values support employee security, wellbeing, confidence, and resilience, while also driving performance to achieve the organization’s purpose and objectives. To see how the SERVICEBRAND approach might help you build values-based connections in your hybrid workforce, please get in touch.

Adapt Your Customer Strategy for Today

If you are in the customer service sector, you’ll have realized already that things are very different today than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if you haven’t suffered significant losses to your sales, staying aware of and adapting your business model to the constant behavioural changes around the world can be a stressful task.

The way people work, eat, buy products, communicate, learn and even socialise has changed massively. It’s no longer prudent to rely on the formulas and predictions that once supported your original business model, while the world seems to be in flux as it reacts to both government and societal changes affecting the way people behave. 

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Why Customer Service Training Is Important for Employees

In today’s saturated market, your business is likely to be competing with hundreds of others. Your competitors provide similar products and services. What makes you stand out amongst the rest is the customer experience you present through your brand.

There’s no way to understate the importance of brand aligned customer service. However, not every company has made the decision to invest in this sector as much as they maybe should.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why customer service training is essential for employees and how it can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, increase employee engagement and raise your bottom line.

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Why Customer Experience is so Important

Providing consumers with positive customer experience is crucial to business success. It’s good for your brand and your bottom line. However, customer satisfaction levels have taken a battering in recent years and, against the unprecedented backdrop of COVID-19, some businesses have fared better than others.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL believes that although we’re living in extraordinarily volatile times, a company that places customer experience at the heart of what it does, while aligning brand identity, and employee engagement, will benefit from a healthier bottom line and reputation. 

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5 Ideas for Improving Customer Experience

In 2020, the importance of customer experience cannot be overstated. In a saturated market, this is what sets one brand apart from the next and captures long-term customer loyalty. Customer service is essential to the brand loyalty of over 96% of consumers. In other words – almost everyone expects excellent customer experience.  This is true for the service sector eg hotels, airlines, professional services etc and for businesses selling products eg automotive, technology products, telephony, white goods etc.

The customer experience has a direct impact on the bottom line of your business. Customers are generally willing to pay a higher price for a better experience. The opposite is true for negative service and one-third of customers would consider switching to a different company based on just one negative customer service encounter.  In today’s digital marketplace, this means you are just one click away from losing customers, sales and profit. 

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How to Improve a Customer Experience Strategy

customer experience strategy

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) is at its lowest level since 2015, sitting at 76.9, 0.8 points lower than January 2019. Organisations with higher customer satisfaction levels have higher employee productivity and engagement. 

We know that excellent quality customer service is built on a customer’s experience with that company, the company’s ethos, its complaint handling, its ethics, and the customer’s emotional connection to that company. We also know that the more a company invests in its customer experience, the higher the return on investment. 

If you are looking to improve your customers’ experience with your business, first you’re going to need a solid customer experience strategy. SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL will work with your business to ensure that through behaviour change, your teams are engaged, empowered, and invested in providing an excellent customer experience.

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Building a Customer Experience Strategy for Your Business

Attracting and engaging customers is an art in today’s incredibly competitive landscape of inbound marketing and customer-focused brands. 

To get your prospective customer’s attention and bring them through to conversion with carefully targeted, authentic and relevant content, you’ll need to dedicate some serious time and resources to building an effective customer experience strategy.

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