Tag: Importance Of Brand Identity

Organizational Alignment and Growth

Organizations are becoming more aware of the value alignment can bring in increasing profitability, employee retention and customer satisfaction. Research suggests that highly aligned organizations are 72% more profitable and grow revenue 58% faster than non-aligned ones. When your strategic plan, company culture, employees and customers are all aligned with your purpose and values, the chances of growth are significantly enhanced.

So how do you choose which area to focus on first? Knowing where to start building alignment can be a challenge.

Slow down to arrest momentum

Understandably, many leaders start with energy and enthusiasm to develop new strategies to create improved alignment. However, one area that is frequently overlooked is the impact of the ‘status quo’. How are your current strategic plans affecting organizational culture, customer experience and employee engagement? If misaligned strategies have been pulling your business off course, it is important to deal with these. ‘There’s no point hoisting new sails if you’re still laying anchor.’

The key here is to understand the impact of a change in one specific area on other parts of the organization. For example, if you put in place a productivity initiative to enable call centre team members to handle more calls, what is the knock-on impact on their behaviour and, ultimately customer perception/satisfaction?

When you begin to understand the interplay between all parts of your organization, it makes it easier to identify points of friction and drag. These challenges can be expensive in terms of money, time, effort, morale, and employee turnover and impede growth and development of the organization.

Building on strategies

Having a clear strategy will help provide direction for everybody in the organization. A focus on the purpose and values of the business will provide a strong foundation to build a strategy on. It will create a compelling reason for employees to want to work with you, and for customers and service users to want to engage with you. However, an inspiring vision on its own is not enough. It must be supported with a strategic plan that is believable and achievable.

There will be issues with an alignment approach if leaders are not honest and transparent about their motivating factors. For example, it is fine to have a focus on profitability but, if this is the case, avoid stating your vision and purpose as being one of service to the community just because you are trying to create a harmonious and aligned culture.

Take time to consider deeply what it is you are offering, and why. When you truly know the why, finding people that are interested in achieving that same purpose will become easier. Once employees are in alignment with your purpose and values, they can become the best sales force and brand ambassadors you could ask for.

Alignment and Culture

One of the reasons alignment fails is the lack of harmony between the espoused culture employees and customers think they are engaging with and how things operate in reality. Time should be taken to capture measurement and insight about the perceptions of various stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, investors, local communities) and their behaviour (through monitoring and observation).

Organization culture exists, whether this is by default or by conscious design, is up to you. How can you expect to scale your business as successfully as brands like McDonalds or Starbucks, if you don’t understand how everything is planned? Why would anybody expect to create alignment, assist flow, and make scaling and growth a natural and inevitable result, rather than something that is a constant struggle?

High performance needs high performers

Growth comes when we find the right people to tend to our vision. People that share the same or similar ideals and values to us, that can find a home and purpose by aligning themselves with our organisation.

Values are difficult to teach. It is far easy to make it clear what you stand for and let people who feel the same come to you. How you attract employees and engage them will play a key role in driving their performance and thus your growth. If you’re company culture or strategic planning are lacking, alignment will quickly dip, as the employee realises your organisation isn’t the beacon, they had been looking for to help achieve their own desires for a meaningful and purposeful life.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in fully understanding the relationship between alignment and growth. We want to help organizations understand what is holding them back and how to create strategies, cultures and performance that will keep them on the cutting edge of their chosen industry. If you are looking for help in understanding how to elevate your organization to one of consistent alignment and growth, why not see what we can do for you?

Engagement Focused Leadership

Whether you are new to a leadership role or have been in one for many years, finding the right tone and balance with your team is crucial. Sometimes you might have been leading the same team of people for a long time. Other times you might have more change in the team. Whatever the situation, it is important to be able to assess each person’s abilities and motivation, and balance that with your own and the pressures of delivering on achievable goals.

This blog looks at three key areas for leaders to consider improving engagement with their employees.

1 on 1

Far too often, 1 on 1 meetings are viewed as a waste of time. Something to get through that doesn’t really contribute anything meaningful to the organization. 67% of employees feel like meetings inhibit their ability to get on with being productive at work.

As a manager and a leader, it is your responsibility to come to 1 to 1 meetings prepared to engage and get the most from your employee. Use this valuable time wisely eg avoid giving organizational updates that could be sent en masse in an email or given in a group huddle.

Also remember to respect your employees and that it is not their responsibility to manage your time. Setting up meetings that you frequently rearrange or cancel at the last minute due to other ‘priorities’ will send your employee engagement plummeting. If employees don’t feel like their time is being valued, they will disengage.

Word of mouth spreads quickly in any organization. If your employees feel like their time is being wasted in these meetings, be sure that everyone else will rapidly hear about it. On the positive side, the news of productive meetings will also spread fast.

Leading with the right questions

Knowing what questions to ask members of a new team can be a challenge. As Stephanie Perkins says, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” These early experiences
will often set the tone for your team’s perception about the kind of leader you are going to be. When you are in a one-to-one conversation with an employee you can be business-like and make it personal at the same time. You and the employee are both performing roles for the organization… and you are both people.

A critical mistake that is often made is trying to give the employee too much time to share their views and opinions, out of a desire to be a good listener. This can put pressure on the employee and result in them talking for the sake of it and in different directions. As a leader, you can lead the conversation with questions that are designed to get the most from the interaction.

If you are coming to a new organization or team, here are some general work-focused questions you can consider beginning with:

What brought you to this organization?
More importantly what is your best hope for working here?
In your opinion, what do we need to start doing here?
What do we need to stop doing?
What is important that we continue to do?
What one change would improve the customer experience most?
What one change would make this a better place for people to work at?
What are you most proud of about working here?
What irritates you about working here?

The most important way you can build engagement is by showing your employees that you trust their knowledge, experience, and opinion.

The Value of listening

Once you know the right questions to ask, it becomes a matter of practicing truly concentrated listening. Managers often get stuck on the first level of active listening. Have you been in a 1 to 1 meeting, that feels like you are talking to a parrot? The other person just repeats back what you are saying. Repetition shows that you have been heard, but that doesn’t mean the person you are talking to has really listened.

If you want to engage your employees into deeper and more meaningful conversations, you must show them you fully understand what they are trying to say to you. Take what they have told you and reflect it back them in your own words. Show them how you understand what they have said and make sure your way of understanding it, is in line with what they were trying to express.

Self-expression is complicated. Youmight feel like you are the best explainer on the planet and yet someone else might not understand what you are explaining. There is no harm in being sure that what has been said is what was actually meant.

This applies even if you don’t agree with what you are hearing. The goal is to build a trusting relationship that is more likely to keep your employees engaged and willing to share their views and opinions with you.

By actively listening, employees will trust that they can bring issues to you while they are still small. This can be so much more beneficial than employees holding off until it is a big problem before being able to count on your attention.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in the power of values-driven employee engagement to improve retention, productivity, loyalty, and advocacy. We help managers and leaders appreciate the value of listening to and understanding what their employees have to say. Too often businesses fail because of a poor attitude to the importance of having employees engaged, motivated, and directed towards achieving your organization’s mission or purpose.

If you feel like you are struggling to connect with your team, or your employees, we can help you create effective planning strategies to greatly improve the way you interact with them. This can only have positive and beneficial results!

CX Looking to the Future

The quality of a customer’s experience sits at the heart of successful organizations. Every customer needs to receive an excellent experience at every point of service, irrespective of time, geography, and channel. This can seem like an overwhelming and perhaps even unachievable aspiration. But with the right approach, it is possible to ensure that every customer and service user that interacts with your organization, has a positive experience.

The implementation and use of AI services and functions has exploded in the last ten years. In particular, it is a powerful tool for data collection, targeted marketing, and the management of ever more complicated automation processes.

Organizations are now increasingly seeing the opportunity to deliver great customer experiences every time by using more advanced AI: to connect with customers and to address their problems and queries. In one-way, Artificial Intelligence might be the future of customer experience.

Access any time

The world is no longer a Monday to Friday, 9-5 place. This has been evolving for some time but has been accelerated dramatically by the impact of COVID-19. Hybrid working schemes are enabling people to work to their own rhythms. This is changing when customers usually engage with products and services.

In a world that doesn’t sleep, keeping up with providing a positive customer experience, can be challenging. This is one area where AI will always have the upper hand on humanity. It needs no sleep, rest, or breaks.

AI that is consistently accessible and able to deal with multi-layered queries, problems or concerns is pivotal in the digital age. Customers don’t want to wait until your opening hours for a response. If they can’t get it from you, a competitor will surely address their needs.

Values-aligned AI

How your customers and service users feel about your organization is largely down to the experience they have, not only of the goods or services they purchase, but the experience of buying from start to finish. If they encounter difficulties on this journey, they are less likely to make a purchase or become loyal customers.

The same is true of implementing AI systems and processes into your organization. If they aren’t aligned with your values, they will not generate positive customer experience. Consider Virgin Media, who prize heartfelt service as one of their core values. And yet, it is next to impossible for customers to reach them. An unending complaints system does nothing but create digital feedback loops, sending customers round and round in circles.

AI can be of incredible benefit to your organization when used innovatively to create benefit/value. But not when used as a cost saving exercise to replace humans that could more satisfactorily solve complaints and queries.

Individual Service

AI is vastly superior to humans in learning and storing information. The more experiences it is given, the better and more adaptive it becomes at resolving problems. Herein lies one of the key benefits for using it to enhance customer experience.

Human service agents are of course still far better at providing a positive sense of feeling and engagement with the customers. But this is often only done at the point of service. AI can improve all elements of the customer journey. From initial contact to complaint resolution, and most importantly into post purchase relationships. It can provide highly specific and targeted advertising content to individual customers across a range of platforms instantly.

The best human customer experience manager might be able to keep up with hundreds of personal preference, desires, and personalities. AI can handle millions of data points, predicting behaviour and acting on it in real time.

The space when customers think about your organization might only be for five minutes of their day. Having the ability to target specific advertisements and offers directly to this window is an incredible powerful tool in driving organizational awareness and sales growth. Done well, it simultaneously gives the customer a positive experience of your offering.

The Future

There is a reason that Amazon is so popular. It is not luck, but innovation driving its success. Putting AI to work, knowing what we want before we want it, and ensuring we get it within a day, has driven huge financial success at Amazon.

Their offer and performance even cause some people to look past our social and environmental responsibilities because the customer journey has become so positive, we know it will feel good to keep ordering the things we want.

The next big question is coming because of this era of instant gratification, where anything we want is available: Will AI continue to facilitate customer experience, or has it already begun to lead and direct it?

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we take a positive and forward-thinking approach to the future. It can be anxiety inducing to face the challenges of the coming decades. If you are struggling to identify the right way to engage with your customers, the way that best fits your organisation, we can help.

How to Build Unshakeable Customer Trust

Building customer trust is a complicated process that takes time and patience to achieve. When you get customer trust right, your customers become ambassadors for your brand. In turn, other customers are more likely to purchase your offering based on their recommendations. More consistent customer interactions can only lead to increased sales.

Where to begin?

The foundation of any trust relationship is empathy. This is the ability to recognise and understand the difficulties of your consumers. Your entire organizational policy should centre around the consumer viewpoint. Remember who you are trying to serve. Without customers, there can be no success and, ultimately, no business.

When building strategies and hiring new employees, be sure to select people that are empathic to the customers’ point of view. People that can consider the situation from both sides are key in building trust and bridging the gap between customers and organizations.

Practicing Empathy

Understanding the experiences of others can be a challenge. How do we put ourselves in the shoes of people, that have lived experiences vastly different from our own? Sometimes it best to take a practical and hands on approach. Take Barclays bank for example. They have been training their employees with an age simulation suit (weighted with decreased visibility) to provide the experience of someone with vision problems and mobility issues trying to access their services. These suits are even capable of inducing temporary joint pain!

Building the experience of your organization around the people that struggle most to engage is a genuine and fulfilling way to build trust with those customers. The elderly and disabled people should be treated as equally entitled to access your products or services without having to face unnecessary barriers like poor access.

Training in empathy and awareness is far from straightforward. How can you simulate the pain sometimes experienced by elderly and disabled people? But If you make the effort to do the most for all of your customers, not just the ones that are easy to serve, the returns in customer loyalty and trust can be enormous.

The right thing at the right time

Organizations flouting customer trust has become an ever more common occurrence. Worse still are organizations that only act with decency and morality when it suits them. Consumers often forget how much power they hold over the organizations and institutions that serve them.

Activism can be polarising. That is why understanding your organization’s core values and purpose is so important. Embracing causes or any of the fights for social justice must be woven into the very fabric of what you do, not paid lip service to for moral clout.

Fashion outlet BooHoo is an example of getting it wrong in terms of building customer trust. In the wake of the BLM movement on social media, the company committed to support more diversity and inclusion. At the same time, they were linked to illegal sweat shops in the background.

One of the biggest metrics for customer engagement is the extent to which customers trust the organization to do the right thing. That is not to say you must take up the torch for every cause, that is not always possible. But you can design your strategies around the issues that represent your values and organizational goals. If you are a coffee company, you might commit to sustainable and fair-trade products. If you are a clothing company, you might commit to reducing fasting fashion and ban slave labour practices.

Tell the Truth

Customers and service users are not fools. They will be able to tell the authentic from those that are not. If your organization makes a mistake, be honest with your customers about it. Trust is built through cycles of trial and error, growth and expansion.

Too often toxic company culture prevents people from owning their mistakes, by overly punishing a single mistake, rather than the consistency or frequency with which mistakes occur. One mistake is not a problem, it is a learning experience.

When you come down hard on a first-time mistake, it doesn’t correct the offending behaviour, it only teaches more subversive behaviours. When there is no room for growth, employees are less willing to step into the line of fire and have a growth moment.

And it is always the customers that pay for these learned behaviours. If your employees are so fearful of making a mistake they pass the blame onto the customer, trust will be permanently damaged.

Building a better future

Customer trust is a tricky subject. It requires understanding, empathy, and honesty. At SERVICEBRAND our three goals are
1) To help you understand your core values and purpose.
2) To create plans and strategies to empathically connect with your customer and service user base.
3) Help you create an honest and open company culture to facilitate trust building internally and externally.

Why not see what SERVICEBRAND can do for you?

Communicating Organizational Values

Organizations are becoming more switched on to the importance of aligning their vision and purpose with their values. A set of clearly defined values can directly contribute to the creation of an inclusive, engaging, and strong organizational culture.

How well these values are understood has a direct impact on employee alignment. And also how well connected your customers and services users feel about your organization’s identity/brand as a whole.

The next hurdle

Defining these values can be a complicated task. We have dived into deeper discussions on how to identify the right values for your organization in previous blogs. The process, however, doesn’t end with a neat list of values. What comes next is the most difficult part. Successfully communicating them to your employees and to your wider audience as a whole.

Building understanding in a consistent and well explained manner is a keystone to developing company culture that supports your purpose and vision. This can be done by aligning everyone with actionable, values-led behaviours to embody while representing your organization.

Values are for living

Values are for living, not laminating. Of course, visual reminders can play a useful role in reinforcing the message around expected behaviours. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that this is the job done. The key is to focus on the specific behaviours you are looking to employ within your organization. For example if one of your stated values is ‘integrity’, you might put energy into ensuring that ‘We treat all of our service users equally.’

The words used as Values are nothing more than a label. They are highly subjective; each person might have a different idea about which behaviours they most readily associate with the words selected to represent the organization. That is why clear communication of the definition of the value word and the kinds of behaviour expected to reflect those values is so important.

The Leadership Shadow

The next important step in the effective communication of values, is also the most critical. People learn by example. Employees’ and customers’ perception is strongly influenced by the way employees in management and leadership roles behave. If the behaviour is in line with the stated values, then the perception of the brand is enhanced. If the behaviour doesn’t reflect the stated values, they will become, at best, confused, and, at worst, disenfranchised.

Anyone in a position of leadership must embody the values of the organization as a matter of personal behaviour. If you have disruption and discomfort in your leadership team around behaving accordingly, they might not be the right people to carry your vision and purpose forward.

Positive reinforcement from leaders will help employees feel supported and encouraged to adopt the right behaviours to best reflect the company’s desired image. Actions do indeed speak far louder than words. A key leadership role is to set the right tone of speech and behaviour for other employees to emulate.

Recognition and reward

Recognition (and sometimes rewards) is important in encouraging people to adopt new behaviours. It is not practical to fire people that don’t immediately fit and replace them with people that do. Change can and does happen, but it takes time, leadership, encouragement and sometimes incentives to change behaviours and perceptions.

When you see employees truly living your desired values, spotlight them with recognition and celebrate this widely to positively reinforce the desired behaviour. Other employees will understand the behaviours that are expected and those that are not accepted. Over time the desirable behaviours become the norm.

But be careful when instituting rewards programs, as they can and often do generate devious behaviours in order to secure a reward. They are great for spotlighting the right desired behaviours in the short term, but don’t have as much of a long-lasting effect as visual ques and learning by example.

SERVICEBRAND

It can be a challenge to identify the kind of organizational culture that would best fit your purpose. Figuring out how to communicate the values effectively and efficiently to everyone can present additional challenges. If you have already started or thinking to start down the path of a values, vision, and purpose assessment of your organization, and want to make sure that they are effectively communicated and embedded, SERVICEBRAND Global can help.

Improving Customer Experience

Customer satisfaction happy feedback rating checklist and business quality evaluation concept 3D illustration.

Defining improvement can be a tricky subject. At the most basic level, anything that is measurably better than it was before, can be considered as having made an improvement. The real issue is what we choose to measure.

Most of us love making improvements, whether they are personal ones to improve our health, or equipping ourselves better to perform the tasks that generate our financial stability.

Understanding customer experience (CX) and how to create successful CX strategies, is complicated by the vast range of potential measurables and how to implement actions that generate the desired changes.

Starting small

One common mistake in implementing effective CX strategies, is to take a top-down approach trying to implement ambitious changes all at once. This can create an enormous feedback loop in the system that can lead to a domino effect of challenges that had not originally been foreseen.

Making huge changes to improve one area can also negatively impact the more stable and successful areas of your organization.

You might try an alternative more basic approach by simply starting with the customer. Make sure there are ways to gather feedback, and record complaints to deal with the individual as soon as any issue happens. Analyse the information and decide if the feedback is contextually valid and requires further action. Then ensure that action is taken to fix the problem, address it and most importantly, let the customer know the problem is being taken care of. So much customer loyalty can be won by simply letting customers know their complaints have been taken seriously and addressed. And a customer who has a complaint resolved well is more loyal than a customer who didn’t have a complaint at all.

So, what do I measure?

There are several ways to go about this, but the basics are the same. You might choose measurable data points that paint a simple picture of your successes in managing customer experience. Or you might focus on problem resolution, measuring just the negative comments from customers or service users.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. There is a middle ground, achievable by looking at the positive and the negative, as well as how they affect each other.

For example, focus too much on only resolving issues customers complain about and you will miss out on feedback around the things you are doing to successfully engage them.

If you want strong and useful data, metrics should be chosen that reflect your organizations values, vision, and purpose. 60% of new business in the UK go bust in the first three years; a poor understanding of data metrics and how to pick and apply them is one of factors that contributes to such high rates of failure.

Everyone wants to make money quickly, but outlasting the competition, building a strong brand identity, and most importantly developing a loyal consumer base, will pay off far more in the long run than two or three years of in a business relying on quick profits over customer experience.

Measure profit, in terms of revenue and sales growth, but also make sure to measure customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention. Measure how your customers are interacting with your organization and find a way to do this where they feel comfortable engaging. Automated options only work if the customer base will use them.

What if its unmeasurable?

Sometimes there are too many variables and getting an accurate numeric measure on the success of a project can be ambiguous. Customer experience is a highly subjective area. Soft as well as hard measures can be a valuable way to establish the whole story; in the hotel sector, there might be a guest satisfaction survey in the rooms and, at the same time, VIP guests might be invited to a drinks reception hosted by the hotel manager to share their feedback.

You can use the tangible data to build strategies and tactics that give you more room to take risks on some of the more subjective elements of customer service.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in understanding the customers’ journey, from start to finish. Not simply understanding the impact on profit margins, but developing those personally subjective relationships with each and every customer but connecting the organizations values and purpose to the way it then engages with its consumer base. If you are struggling to navigate the complexities of building great customer experience, we can help you create strategies and systems of measurement that will give you greater insight into where you are and help you get to where you want to be.

Values-Driven Leadership


The most successful and profitable organisations are those that have and act on a strong set of core values. But having great organizational values won’t help if they aren’t embodied by everybody throughout the organization, including people in positions of management or leadership.

For a business to be successful, it is critically important that the employees are aligned, engaged, and have a good understanding of the organization’s core values and purpose. When this is achieved, each employee will feel an increased sense of connection to the organization, which will build confidence, commitment, and resilience, and empower them to be the best they can be at work.

Living your values at all levels

But ‘core values’ and ‘purpose’ aren’t just nice words to laminate and decorate the office walls with. Values are for living not laminating has become something and a signature phrase for us and the work we do. Values have to be lived in everything the organization does, employees need to see and more importantly feel that the people in charge truly embrace and live the company values and culture. In the same way, those at the top need to make sure their employees accurately reflect the culture and values expected of them.

Company culture is a two-way street. Your employees often represent the only point of contact with your customers or service users. If they don’t understand or aren’t committed to your values, how can they pass them on?

This process starts at the top, if the leadership team is not seen to be living and embodying the organization’s values, how can other, less senior, employees be expected to do so?

People in leadership positions cast long shadows, and these only grow in size the more senior that person becomes. This can be a great thing when you have someone who truly understands the organization’s values and is able to effectively communicate them to the employees they come into contact with.

But, when leadership behaviour is not values aligned, that shadow will cover everyone beneath it, blanketing them in learned behaviours that do not best represent the company, brand, or organization. When done right, values-driven leadership guides and sets the tone for the employees. These employees are also a valuable barometer of when strategies, decisions or behaviour are failing to reinforce the values in the customer or service user experience.

Self-reflection

One of the most challenging aspects of the journey toward successful values driven leadership, is the ability to practice clear and accurate self-reflection. When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. But it can be tricky to successfully identify what it is you stand for; versus what it is you are willing to do for financial gain or security.

A deeper look inside is required, starting with what matters most to you, and moving towards the values that embody the things you care about. Take time to reflect on your decisions, and on the things that give you motivation and purpose. This will enable you to dial into yourself in a deeper and more meaningful way.

If you begin to struggle with self-reflection, ask for help. Encourage your peers, employees, and employers to give you some honest feedback about your performance at work, or your ability to communicate.

Be prepared, we are not always who we think we are in the eyes of others. It can be great to get positive feedback, but we can also feel demotivated when we learn people see us as something we don’t think we are.

Be open to the process and understand that while their opinions are valid and should be given space, they represent only a small amount of engagement with you in a specific role or situation. It is not about you as a whole person, but about the way you act in certain situations. There is opportunity for growth in all things, so try not to be too hard on yourself or to take things too personally. Reflect with honesty and compassion for yourself, identify and address your blind spots and you’ll become a better leader.

Our unique purpose

Only once we have a true understanding of our own values, can we see where we might be fit within an external organizational framework. Every one of us has unique gifts, abilities, and sense of purpose.

It can be soul crushing and demotivating to finally find an organization that espouses values we also believe in and a purpose we can align with, only to discover the values and purpose are paidl ip service to, succumbing to the desire for profit over everything else.

In the same way a good leader can tell if the employees truly reflect the values of the organisation, employees can tell when a leader is going through the motions. Leaders must apply business strategies to their own self development, by asking similar questions. When asking what sets our business apart from the competition, ask the same questions of yourself: “What sets me apart from others?”, “What unique skills and understanding do I contribute that can bring the organization’s values and purpose to life?”.

Open and honest communication

Once you have figured out what you value, and how you might apply it to the best effect, you then need the final piece of the values-driven leadership puzzle: effectively communicating that vision to others.

Some people do an excellent job at living values, but struggle to explain why, in the same way others do a good job talking about values, but don’t embody them in a real or meaningful way. In business strategy planning, we understand the importance of communicating the brand message to as wide an audience as possible to gain a better market share (Mind share). Yet we don’t spend nearly as much time ensuring that we, as leaders, are able to effectively communicate to people at all levels. To paraphrase Einstein, ‘if you can’t explain it to a child, you don’t understand it.’

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

Here at SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we help progressive leaders to bring their organization’s values and purpose to life in the workplace. The award winning 31Practices approach helps you to bring values to life at an organizational or self-development level. This can be combined with the unique SERVICEBRAND approach helping to cultivate and embed values driven leadership and alignment throughout organizations. We are here to support your development, to help you have the difficult conversations and become the best leader you can be.

Keeping up with changes in the CX world

The impact of COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people across the world. Not just in terms of the death toll, but also in the way that some people’s livelihoods have been shaken to the ground. The pandemic has also had a dramatic effect on customer experience and organizations have been forced to reconsider what customer care means.

During times of great fear and crisis, our emotions are heightened, as are our desires and expectations. A rude telephone call, a lack of support on a customer care call, items failing to be delivered, while irksome, pre pandemic would not have been the end of the world.

Fast forward to a time when we couldn’t leave the house, or access services without risk of serious infection, and how we get things delivered and dealt with became of critical importance. The organizations that successfully navigated the first waves of the pandemic did so by placing attention on their customers and services users in an empathic and concerned way. Going above and beyond to show they care and understand the difficulties presented by the situation.

Permanent shift

Although mass vaccination has helped dramatically reduce the numbers of people dying or requiring hospitalization , it looks like COVID-19 is here to stay, in one form or another. After two years of a global pandemic, organizations must realize the importance of becoming more adaptable in the face of a crisis, and the consequence of not doing this is potentially terminal.

A crisis like this clearly presents a challenge and when the pressure is on true values shine through. Better.com did not focus much on communicating its culture and values to the outside world but this was placed in a harsh spotlight when CEO Vishal Garg fired 900employees on zoom and the story went viral leading to a mass exodus of talent from the company including Mr Garg stepping down from his position ‘temporarily’.

Layoffs happen in the world of business, but how you handle them says so much about your individual leadership style and your organisation as a whole. The same is true of the way you treat your customers. In times of crisis or panic, your customers’ interactions with you will be emotionally heightened and much more long lasting than in time of safety and security. This means customer loyalty and trust will never be more fragile than it is during a crisis, and how you handle it can make or break the relationship.

Connection, empathy, and care

Building connections with customers and service users is of vital importance to any organization. Without meaningful connections, customer retention will fall, as they go in search of that ‘little something extra’, that sense of feeling more than just being another cog in a money-making machine.

Customers desire, and are almost desperate for, connection. To not reach back to them is a huge waste of relationship building potential. So how do you build and maintain these connections?

One answer is to share your organization’s experience in an open and honest way. Throughout each wave of the pandemic, the organizations speaking honestly are the ones that have continued to have the support of their customers. And speaking honestly includes admitting it when you don’t know or apologising when something has not gone as well as it should.

After two years, some organizations are just catching up to this idea, while others, at the forefront of best customer experience practice, have created strategies to adapt to changes at a moments notice. These strategies bring the customer on the journey, make them feel involved, supported, cared for, and understood. This level of adaptability and effort reinforces customer loyalty by connecting to the idea of trying our best.

When we are panicked, we struggle if we look around and see the people, we rely on panicking too. It is time for organizations to step up to their social responsibilities, to commit to caring for their customers’ needs over the desire to make a quick profit.

CX evolved

Customer experience has always been tricky to get right, there are many factors motivating a customer to shop, spend or become a service user of an organization. It is even more of a challenge now, as organizations have been forced to deliver on the customer’s terms .

Because of this, e-commerce sales have risen dramatically around the world, first as a result of the pandemic, and then as continued uncertainty abounds around how long we will have to live with COVID-19.

If your organization depends on quality and well-trained staff to interact with your customers, switching to a digitally led experience can be very challenging. What communicates well in person, doesn’t always translate well into online engagement.

In order to keep up, your customer experience strategy has to evolve, to provide more digital options for interaction with ever more homebound customers. Connecting with 3rd party businesses to make delivery an option for your products too, is a great way to maintain market share while you put your own delivery services together.

SERVICEBRAND

If you are struggling to keep up with the pace of change and need help building a customer experience strategy to help improve customers loyalty, trust, and retention, SERVICEBRAND Global can help. Care, empathy and understanding of customer needs are often the first things to go out of the window during a crisis, but there are ways to cut costs and streamline operations without damaging customer experience and customer relationships. Let us help you navigate these uncertain times with adaptable, specific, and tailored strategies for your organization!

Navigating Brand Identity

“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room” Jeff Bezos

The terms ‘brand’, ‘branding’, and ‘brand identity’ are sometimes treated as interchangeable. The first ‘Element’ of the SERVICEBRAND approach is Brand Identity and we refer to this as the collection of all the brand elements that the company creates to describe its personality and character. The brand identity is what makes an organization instantly recognizable to different stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, local communities etc), creates the connection with these stakeholders and determines how the organization is perceived.

Some leaders in organizations think that their brand is simply the name and logo. Of course, the name and logo are important parts of the visual identity and yet there is so much more to an organization’s complete brand identity. It consists of intangible elements such as the organization’s purpose and values as well as tangible elements such as visual identity and tone of voice. Ultimately, we think Jeff Bezos’ description above captures perfectly what a brand is.

Component parts

In practical terms, the Brand Identity is a combination of purpose/vision, values, brand attributes, unique positioning, SERVICEBRANDSignatures, visual identity and tone of voice. The starting point is to identify and articulate the organization’s purpose and values. The brand purpose or vision captures what the brand desires or promises to accomplish (usually for the buyer).

The organization can use positioning and differentiation to communicate the brand’s purpose and ultimately enrich the brand’s identity. And this purpose can transcend the functional purpose to also express the brand’s higher purpose or reason for being. The higher purpose suggests emotional and social benefits for the customer by choosing that brand. A strong purpose and values set the tone for the organization’s purpose and code of conduct.

The changing tide

In the past, it was commonly accepted that organizations owned their brand identity. The marketing function usually took the lead, deciding what the brand identity was and the used their marketing or public relations department/campaigns to ‘pump out’ directed messages to their target audience.

In the Values Economy, this is no longer the case and an organization’s brand identity is now co-owned by the various stakeholder groups e.g. customers, employees, service partner, local communities, investors etc. In the future, we believe that the most successful brands will not be focussed on direct control of brand messaging. Instead, they will invest energy in being true to their brand identity, led by their purpose and values. They will then focus on enabling their stakeholder groups to communicate how they feel about the brand with these stakeholders effectively acting as the marketing department.

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Scott Cook

Positive and Negative

When organizations have a strong brand identity, it gives them an edge of their competitors. When you successfully attract a customer or service user and give them a positive experience of your organization, they often become brand ambassadors, offering free marketing via social media and word of mouth, to encourage others to choose you as well.

Whether you put much time and attention into brand identity or not, customers and service users, will still get an impression from you, one way or the other. Considering the power individuals have in this day and age to influence others for or against you, it is well worth putting the time into creating a strong brand identity, one that raises your brand awareness in the minds of others, in a positive and lasting way.

When done well, a strong brand identity can generate a halo effect or a Midas touch, that makes launching new products or services much easier, as those that have already had a positive experience with your organisation are far more likely to trust you when it comes to new releases.

Your customers’ experience of your brand can also lead to damaging or negative effects. Once a brand is tarnished, customers and service users are far less likely to trust or engage with future products or promotions. This negative association can even lead organizations to rebrand and separate themselves from the core brand identity, consider Facebook’s recent name change.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

Your brand lives in everything your organization does… whether you like it or not. If you treat your brand identity as a lip service campaign designed to attract people, but do not then offer consistency or substance, you will fail, sooner or later. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we help progressive leaders of organizations to create strong brand identities through careful examination of their purpose, vision, and values. From this we are able to create SERVICEBRANDSignatures, that set organizations apart from the competition. Your brand identity is what people say about you when you’re not there, so how important is this to you?

The Big Reframe

Thinking about New Year resolutions

Several people have been very kind about this year’s wall calendar. Specifically, comments have been about how beautiful the photographs are (in particular how uplifting January’s photo is to start the year), appreciation of the values related lyrics for each month, the practicality of the calendar as a useful ‘tool’, how pleased people were to receive a surprise gift, and curiosity about the ValuesJam card game (did you see what I did there? 😉).

At the same time, because it is the beginning of the year, there is a lot of commentary and advice being posted on social media about New Year resolutions and goals/targets for the year. A conversation with ValuesJam co-founder Lisa Birtles caused me to reflect on the 2022 calendar ‘project’ in the context of how we approach ambitions for the year ahead.

By way of background, twelve years ago I decided to produce a wall calendar to send to people I had been involved with during the past year or even in previous years (clients, service partners, collaborators, family, neighbours etc) as a small token of appreciation. I enjoy photography so the concept was simple: select twelve photographs taken in the previous year (usually!) to create a practical gift with a personal touch. Then after a couple of years, a values-related quote for each month was added.

Disruption

COVID-19 had already made the 2021 calendar more of a challenge because of fewer international trips and this was even more pronounced during 2021 (ie the 2022 calendar content). Nevertheless, I was able to select twelve photographs that I was pleased enough with and reckoned that people would understand the situation. Everything was sent to the design and print company, the proof was approved and an expected delivery date was agreed for early December.

The day before the delivery, I emailed the company to find out what time of the day to expect delivery and, because the photos had been uploaded onto my laptop, deleted the photos from my camera. The next day, an email reply arrived from the design and print company stating that there seemed to be an issue with the resolution of most of the photographs provided. When I checked the files on the laptop they were about 10% of the resolution they were supposed to be… and I no longer had the photos on the camera in case the problem had been caused when they were transferred.

Did I panic? Was I upset? Was I frustrated? Yes. Yes. Yes. But this did not last long because I realised what was done was done. Even if the photos on the camera were of the right resolution, they no longer existed so this was irrelevant. Not for one moment did I consider any possibility that there would be no calendar. I was intent that people would still be opening their 2022 calendars and be able to enjoy them during the year. Instead, the focus was firmly on how to produce and send the calendars in the new circumstances. The question was “In the absence of a selection of photos from 2021, what are the options?” The first answer was “A selection of photos from previous years” and the idea of a ‘back catalogue’ concept developed.

Serendipitously, the first calendar was produced in 2011 (photos from 2010) so this meant that there could be one photo from each year 2010-2020 and an additional photo from 2021. Also, there was a ‘fit’ with ValuesJam and the music connection. The concept of the 2022 ‘back catalogue’ calendar was borne and it took a week to approve the new design, for production and delivery. Dispatch was a little later than normal, but most calendars have arrived in time for the beginning of the New Year.

In addition, an unforeseen benefit was that it was really enjoyable looking back over photos from previous years which were a reminder of some great places visited and associated memories – it was an even more enriching ‘process’ than usual. And finally, it was much easier to deal with this year than if the same issue had happened in other years with more photos from a variety of international locations.

So what?

So what has this to do with New Year’s resolutions? My take-aways from the 2022 calendar experience are all about the mindset and perspective you choose to adopt to what you are aiming to achieve as follows:
1) Goals (actions to achieve a positive impact) are generally more motivating than resolutions (giving something up).
2) Understand that the impact you are seeking to achieve is the ultimate aim and more important than the goal itself.
3) Be committed to delivering the desired impact. As Yoda says: “Do or do not, there is no try”.
4) Be flexible eg the goal can be adapted to deliver the desired impact if circumstances change.
5) Sh*t happens – get over yourself and move on.
6) RoE (Return on energy) focus
a) invest in what needs to be done rather than waste energy on what can’t be changed.
b) remind yourself of what you have invested so far, which will be wasted if you do not complete your goal, or a variation of it.
7) Be kind to yourself – you can only do what you can do with what you have got (thanks to Padideh Tosti for this gem).
8) Hold yourself to account – be creative, resourceful, and persistent (rather than give up).
9) Consciously consider your values to make choices and decisions easier.
10) Keep track of your ‘performance’, recognise successes and take action to correct shortcomings.

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