Tag: Inclusion

What is SERVICEBRAND Global?

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”
Arthur Ashe

This month marks the 17th anniversary of the creation of my company, SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL Ltd. The SERVICEBRAND journey started with a classic, corporate, defining moment or series of moments. By way of background and context, in 2002, a major global facilities management company were looking for a senior leader to develop the account for a Big Four bank and their UK office portfolio.

A key criterion for the appointment was a five-star hotel industry background. And since I had successfully turned around a five-star hotel and country club, uniquely delivering three consecutive all-green balanced scorecards and receiving recognition within the company and industry wide. I was excited to be offered the opportunity to transfer my skills across sectors from hotels to the workplace environment.

The assignment was an all-round success, founded on implementing a hotel style service delivery model for the collection of service partner companies involved and their combined total of 5,000 employees.

Commercially, the account grew from an £8m turnover catering contract to a £150m turnover multi-services contract. Industry recognition was received by way of a CoreNet Global Innovation Award and a service partner Customer Experience award from the bank.

Both the facilities management company and the bank were keen to explore a co-owned joint venture arrangement to scale the business proposition and take it to the open market, targeting major global contracts. The small management team were set to become shareholders and the business plan revenue numbers were in the billions of pounds.

Defining moments

First, there was a change of the facilities management company UK CEO. The incoming CEO, who had arrived from the international division of the organization sent a lengthy introduction open email to all employees explaining how he was going to create a successful future for the company. Within a week, he had left the business over an alleged historic scandal and the company chose to ‘batten down the hatches’ to focus on the core catering business. The embryonic new business concept was shut down before its first breath and my role was made redundant.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Epictetus

The beginning

It was August 2005, and the above experience was the encouragement to set up, for want of a better term, a management consultancy business. The decision was based more on intuition than on a considered business plan and was informed by the following:

• a personal passion for customer service, the importance of front-line people and creation of admired brands.
• success in several senior leadership roles, both with large corporate organizations and smaller entrepreneurial companies.
• experience at Managing Director/General Manager level with a deep understanding of operational delivery and several specialist support functions, particularly Marketing and HR as well as Sales, Finance, Health & Safety, Property Management, Revenue Management, and others.
• a wide network of business connections.
• a realization that frustration with the way in which decisions were made in large corporate organizations kept being repeated.
• a desire to work with progressive service organizations who wanted to be leaders in their market or sector.

The business name came easily. It needed to indicate a focus on people delivering great customer service and the strength of an organization’s brand identity. It needed to have potential to scale internationally and, ideally, would be a name with a unique quality. SERVICE BRAND GLOBAL was born, and quickly became SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, and the invented word ‘SERVICEBRAND’ was registered as a trademark.

Initially, it seemed like a good idea to offer support and advice to senior leaders of service sector organizations in a wide range of areas to improve their businesses, but it soon became clear that this ‘jack of all trades’ approach was not compelling when people were usually seeking a solution to a specific challenge or problem.

A three-month contract to lead a cultural transformation for the corporate real estate division of an investment bank for their London office provided some thinking space to develop a more coherent, packaged, or productised service offering, rather than basing the proposition on personal expertise, knowledge, and service.

The creative thinking process to develop and articulate the offer was a replay of the approach used in various leadership roles over the previous twenty years. Significant business impact and success had been achieved repeatedly so the task was to draw out the common threads of how this had been achieved.

Core themes

One strong core theme was a combination of theory and practice: understanding the theory which helped to underpin successful practical outcomes, applying theory in practice and, finally, understanding the relationship between the two.

Personal experience of working with various business models or frameworks (e.g., EFQM Excellence model, Hospitality Assured, IiP, and the Service Profit chain) had also been beneficial. The key insight was the value of having an overarching organization framework to support general management of the business instead of allowing an approach more reliant on individual functions and the organization structure.

These frameworks helped to join up the functions of business horizontally and vertically i.e., actively involving all members of the team and keeping them focussed on the priorities for the business as a whole. Other areas which had helped to create improved business performance were putting in place various common operating systems and processes including communication channels and employing methods to capture measurement and insight.

Evolution

The concept development process helped to identify that the first time the SERVICEBRAND approach had been used in its (almost) full form was at the City of London’s leading conference venue in 1996 (yet without knowing it) and then at a five-star hotel and country club. There was more conscious application with the facilities management company operating one of the Big Four bank’s UK offices portfolio.

In the seventeen years since the ‘beginning’, the SERVICEBRAND approach has been refined and developed alongside the use of a set of associated tools, some proprietary and others in collaboration with partners. Various projects have been delivered at different levels across industry sectors.

At one end of the scale, the framework has been applied in its entirety in large corporate organizations on a global or regional basis with a variety of workstreams over a two to three-year period. At the other end of the scale, much smaller, sometimes single location organizations have chosen to focus on one ‘Element’ of the SERVICEBRAND approach and perhaps even one specific tool e.g. 31Practices.

What all of the clients in these organizations have in common, is a progressive mindset and a recognition that a values-driven approach to a team of brand ambassadors delivering a memorable customer experience can be an immensely powerful way to achieve sustained performance. Both larger and smaller projects have received industry awards.

In 2018, the word SERVICEBRAND became trademarked in US and in EU.

It has been quite a journey so far, time flies when you are having fun. And there are still more adventures to be had with a retreat concept, a customer experience training program partnership and a global visual arts initiative all forming!

Values as a Competitive Differentiator

“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does…” Howard Schultz, Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

It is no secret that we live in an oversaturated market for many products and services. Every day, businesses and organizations compete for our attention. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements, product placement and subliminal messaging.

As a result, the majority of us forget a brand’s advertising attempts within three days of seeing it. The functionality of intelligent tools that let us search for whatever we need, whenever we need it, also plays a roll in this mass forgetting. We don’t need to remember where anything was or if it was good, because we have tools to access all that information.

So, if people aren’t really connecting to the branding and marketing for your products and services, how can you maintain their loyalty for the long term?

Setting up for success

Brand awareness can be complicated to measure correctly. Especially if you are unsure about what to measure in the first place, or how to properly extract meaningful insights from the data you gather.

Your connection to your customers and service users is about more than the product or service you are trying to sell them. People need a sense of feeling that they can connect with. They like to feel like their purchasing decisions matter and are more likely to support organizations whose values align closely with their own.

Do you know what your organization values? Is there a set of well thought out and simply defined values that are core to the way you do business? Critically, are those values communicated in a consistent way, not just verbally, but in every action and behaviour across the organization?

Benefits of knowing your Values

There is near limitless choice for customers. Anything we want we can get, and from multiple organizations.

We are motivated by story lines and remember them far longer, for the way they made us feel, than if we are told a series of facts about the product or service. The cost or functionality of a product or service can be replicated easily by competitors. When your organizational values are the foundation of every interaction your customers will have with you, they become a powerful differentiator which is not easily copied.

Consistency is key

Having values that set you apart is only as good as your ability to send that message to your customers and other stakeholders in a consistent way. The experience someone is having of your organization should reflect your values in action and behaviour and it should be the same at every point of service. As you can imagine, this is no easy task, but when your organization gets this right, it will help you to improve stakeholder loyalty and performance and drive sustained profitability.

Finding the flow

Imagine a time when everyone in your organization is in full alignment with your values. Your employees don’t have to wait or go through countless steps of approval before acting. They embody and live your organizational values in every moment of their working day. They are clear about the behaviours expected and what is not acceptable. They are trusted to do the right thing without micromanagement.

The key to achieving this outcome is alignment across the areas of Brand Identity, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience, supported by Systems & Processes and Measurement & Insight. This is the SERVICEBRAND approach which has delivered measurable success across a balanced scorecard of business measures for organizations in different sectors, of different sizes and in different geographies.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe that your organizational values set you apart. We can help you figure out the values sitting at the heart of your mission and show you how to bring these to life with all stakeholders. When used well, values can build transform business performance. Why not see what we can do for you?

Sustainable Organizations and Values

“A sustainable business is resource efficient, respects the environment and is a good neighbor.” (Phil Harding )

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments, and keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our 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.

There is no universally agreed definition of what sustainability means. There are many different views on what it is and how it can be achieved. The idea of sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the world’s first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The original definition of sustainable development, according to the Brundtland Report of 1987, 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.” Since then, 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, etc. – and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

Sustainability on the move

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 2020 had almost double the coverage compared to November 2019. Investors are anticipated to spend $1 billion 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. In June 2020, global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative that 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.

The triple bottom line theory expands the traditional accounting framework to include two other performance areas: the social and environmental impacts of a company. These three bottom lines are often referred to as the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. B Corps are businesses that give as much consideration to their social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns. B Corporation certification (assessed by the not-for-profit B Lab) is given to for-profit organizations that achieve at least a minimum score against a set of social and environmental standards. B Corps have been around in the USA since 2007, with brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia achieving certification.

To date, there are over 3,000 Certified B Corps in 150 industries and 70 countries, and over 70,000 companies use the B Impact Assessment. B Lab was named in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2020, landing at number five in the not-for-profit sector list. Since UK B Corps was launched in 2015, members have experienced an average 14% year-on-year growth rate (national economic growth 0.5%).
Values are the key

We believe that the reason this movement and B Corp companies perform so well is because they are creating a sense of shared values with all stakeholders, especially customers and employees. There is a growing body of research showing that there is a strong link between financial performance and values-driven organizations.

“Without exception, the dominance and coherence of culture proved to be an essential quality of the excellent companies.” (Tom Peters and Robert Waterman )

The key point here is that values must be alive to add value. We use the phrase ‘values are for living, not laminating’ because all too often in organizations, values are just words (and the same ones from one organization to the next) but they do not translate into practices or ‘the way things work around here.’ A recent study revealed that there is no correlation between the cultural values a company emphasizes in its published statements and how well the company lives up to those values in the eyes of employees. The SERVICEBRAND framework helps to make this happen at several levels:

• The Brand Identity Element identifies the organization’s purpose and values
• The activities in the Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Elements are explicitly informed by the purpose and values
• The activities in the Systems & Processes Element are consciously designed to support the first three Elements
• The Measurement & Insight Element helps to identify a range of whole-system metrics to monitor, assess and guide performance

This is how using the SERVICEBRAND approach can help to deliver sustained performance over time.
What implications does the topic of sustainability have for your implementation of the SERVICEBRAND approach and each of the five Elements? What opportunities does it present? What challenges and obstacles will you need to overcome?

SERVICEBRAND

If you are struggling and battling with the creation of sustainable strategies and processes, why not see what SERVICEBRAND Global can do to help. We believe in connecting people with their true values so they can be of service to the world around them, while still turning a profit.

Problem Resolution and Customer Experience

An enormous number of customer interactions are related purely to the resolution of an issue the customer has with your organization. How well you make yourself available to your customers, and how well you can resolve the problems defines how much trust and loyalty those customers are likely to place in your organization. Ultimately, it can make the difference between retaining and losing a customer.

Complex answers to simple problems

Customers often contact your organization to seek solutions, find out information, query something they don’t understand, or challenge an issue they have had in the use, purchase, or access of your service. Automated phone services and online chat bots are a useful application of technology. But the focus needs to be on enhancing the customer experience, not cutting costs.

Having AI assisted customer service can be efficient and effective. This happens when it is fully able to understand and resolve queries and complaints. On the other hand, giving general and unhelpful feedback frustrates customers as much, if not more, as waiting on hold to speak in person to an agent.

Remember that you do not define your customers’ expectations. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in convenience (Amazon leading the way), use of mobile transactions and direct-to-consumer delivery models. As a result, customers’ expectations have risen. They compare your speed of delivery or response to Amazon, your mobile interface with Uber and your delivery model with Apostrophe.

Balancing customer experience

On average, customers and service users will tell between 9 and 14 people about a positive experience they have had with an organization. They will tell between 15 and 21 people when they have had a negative customer experience. When this is multiplied across every customer suffering the same issues it can rapidly and dramatically affect the profitability and reputation of the organization.

While it is the dream of every organization to have perfect relationships with their customers, this isn’t realistic. You can, however, balance the needs of customers against the potential weight of their negative criticism. This is where AI can come into its own in providing you with the insight so that you can make conscious choices about how individual customers are managed.

By filtering complaints as quickly as possible (probably to a human being), you dramatically offset the likelihood of that customer being a brand detractor and speaking ill of your organization.

Refining your strategies

When you build a strategy centred around resolving customer complaints, firstly on an individual level, then on an organizational one, you dramatically reduce the likelihood of repeated customer complaints about the same problem.

This requires a counter intuitive mindset and healthy communication within the organization. Issues and complaints from customers can be welcomed if you treat them as an opportunity to improve your business. The customer’s problem is your organization’s problem and with detailed feedback you can identify and correct the issue.

Marriott used a problem resolution model attributed to Walt Disney which considers two elements: first the impact on the guest and secondly the degree of responsibility of the hotel.

By way of examples:

1) There is a rain shower as a guest is accompanied to their car. Low impact, low responsibility – EMPATHY: “I hope you will dry off quickly and have a safe drive home”.
2) A guest goes to their room and a light bulb is out. Low impact, high responsibility – FIX IT: “Thank you for letting us know and apologies. I will see that it is replaced immediately. When is the best time for you?”
3) Wine is spilt on a guest’s jacket. High impact, high responsibility – RED CARPET: “I am so sorry. The Housekeeper can deal with this now or, if you prefer to keep your jacket, please have it dry cleaned and send me the receipt so you can be reimbursed.”
4) A guest has travelled to the airport and left their passport in the room. High impact, low responsibility – HERO: “Yes, we found the passport in your room and my colleague is on the way to the airport now. We have checked traffic information and flight times and you will be in time for your flight. Let me confirm your mobile number so he can contact you when he arrives.”

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in refining the customer experience by removing as much friction as possible. We can help you to develop strategies that will dramatically improve the overall customer experience and reduce the number of complaints you are receiving, by taking an organization wide approach. Why not see how we might help you win more new customers, retain existing customers and convert customers into brand ambassadors.

Creating Positive Organizational Culture

Culture is one of the key elements contributing to organizational success. A strong and sustainable culture makes it much easier to attract the kind of employees that fit. More importantly, it will keep them engaged. This will help you retain skilled and talented employees for longer.

Organizations that succeed in creating healthy workplace cultures, often find themselves a cut above the competition.

Where to begin?

It can be hard to know where to start, and difficult to admit that you might be getting it wrong. All too often we see organizations championing values like honesty, accountability, and respect. Yet, in the day to day, we do not see these values put into practice.

Employees that are punished for their honesty, are less like to be honest again. Unfair and uneven processes of accountability often breed resentment and demotivate employees from trying to do the right thing. Respect is a two-way street. You cannot demand what you refuse to give.

When starting the journey to a healthy and positive organizational culture, you must first consider what really matters to you. What is your organization’s purpose and values? Clarity about what you are trying to achieve and the way in which you want to achieve it provides a guiding compass that will sustain your business on its journey to success.

The value of different points of view

It is valuable to gain insight into what is important to a wide range of stakeholders, especially employees. This might be straightforward in a healthy, open culture and more of a challenge if you are attempting to fix a toxic culture. If your employees fear the leadership or management they work under, it will be harder to get an honest and unbiased answer. Getting to the truth of the real experience employees are having is critical to creating a positive culture.

Anonymous surveys can be a way to get genuine feedback. Prepare yourself though. Just because your employees aren’t complaining, doesn’t mean they are happy. They might be in fear of their losing their job or that horribly demotivating feeling of finally speaking up and still not being heard.

The way your employees see the organization is critical in understanding and exploring strategies to build more positive culture. Make sure to give them the time and space to express themselves. And try not to take how they feel personally. Your role as a leader is to create a safe and positive company culture through understanding, not blame-shift or deny the experiences of others, as they feel them. This is the same approach as encouraging and receiving feedback from customers.

Painting the right picture

Think of the creation of a healthy culture being like an artist painting a picture. They both take a delicate balance of structured planning and attention to detail to deliver the best result. Too little structured planning and the ‘canvas’ will become a jumbled mess, too much attention to detail and it will take too long to finish for fear of getting it wrong.

Navigating the path between those behaviours you wish to encourage and those that you must make clear cannot be tolerated is a complex one. Pay close attention to the way you train and teach what is unacceptable behaviour. If you train your employees too strictly over minor infractions, you risk creating a group of disengaged people that will likely only perform when they know you are watching. On the other hand, as Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker state “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate.” It is a fine line.

Culture informed processes

Once you know your purpose and values, you can start to design processes that will eventually create a self-sustaining loop of positive culture. When you know what you value you can start to look for people that are already aligned with similar values. Your recruitment processes should always look for the right ‘fit’ for the company culture. Rather than talking about the organization’s values, you can reflect and reinforce the values in the process itself.

Skills can be learned, trained for, and developed overtime, but our values are wholly unique to our individual life experience. It is far better for your organization’s longevity and profitability to hire people that work well within the kind of positive culture you wish to create, than it is to hire an incredible seller or customer service agent that doesn’t work well in a team.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we believe in creating bespoke strategies that focus on understanding purpose and values to drive organizational alignment. We don’t believe in copy and paste organizational cultures. We want to help you create a self-sustaining positive culture in the workplace that lets you get the best out of your employees because they are valued and part of a team. Why not see what SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can do for you!

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.

Disruptive innovation

Disruptive innovation is a term first defined by Clayton M. Christensen in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. Today his concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ is present in our everyday language about innovation. It is also applied to describe many situations relating to industry changes.

“If you defer investing your time and energy until you see that you need to, chances are it will already be too late.” Clayton Christensen

Understanding disruptive business

To explain his theory, Christensen uses a comparison of Netflix and Uber. A disruptive business is able to gain a foothold in a low-end market that has been ignored by established companies.
These disruptive organizations must in their own way create an entirely new market. One that turns non-customers in customers.

Despite these theories. Uber didn’t create a new market but sought customers who were already using taxi services. If it is true also that truly disruptive businesses start with a low-quality product that covers the mainstream market by improving quality, Uber does not fit this theory either.

” You’re not that disruptive. Stop lying to yourself!” Rameet Chawla

Christensen uses Netflix as a classic example of a disruptive business. The initial Netflix mail-in subscription service wasn’t attractive to Blockbuster’s mainstream customers who rented new releases ‘on-demand’. Netflix attracted only those who didn’t care about new releases, were early adopters of DVD players or shopped online.

They targeted segments of the population previously overlooked by competitors, delivering an inferior (but tailored) alternative, at a lower price. Eventually, Netflix moved upmarket by adding the things mainstream customers wanted. Then one day, there was no reason to use Blockbuster anymore. We agree that this is a great example of true disruption.

We think Christensen’s examples help to explain what disruption is and is not. However, we also believe that there could be a better example to use than Uber because it is a business which is platform-based (rather than linear) and, at one level, we believe that Uber has caused disruption.

Networks of Disruption

Once a platform has established a strong network around its core offering. It can easily tap into that network to unlock new customer groups and create new markets. Networks are extensible in a way that traditional supply chains are not. In fact, most platforms create new markets. They succeed not by building sustainable innovations but by introducing disruptive innovations. These are the things that build new networks, communities, and marketplaces.

This is what Uber has done.

We also challenge the technology obsessed view of disruption. It might be true that new technology uproots, and eventually replaces, an existing technology. Consider the way video streaming has replaced video rentals.

However, this description still misses the point because disruption is not driven just by technology. Instead, it is driven by customers. They are the ones behind the decisions to adopt or reject new technologies or new products and services.

Let’s look at Uber again. Customers valued the convenience and value of the Uber service. The driver community valued the flexibility of hours and service delivery model. Large companies should therefore focus on the changing needs of customers to respond more effectively to digital disruption.

“Those who disrupt their industries change consumer behaviour, alter economics, and transform lives.” Heather Simmons

Innovation is an important aspect in the conversation on disruption. But it is not always the case that newer technology makes for better business. This is why we prefer to take a broader view of the topic.

The Bigger Picture

We are rapidly facing an oncoming future of colliding megatrends. From rapid urbanisation, climate change, resource scarcity, and technological breakthroughs, to shifts in economic global power. All the while, navigating the currents of demographic and social change.

We know that these shifts are reshaping societies, economies, and behavioural norms across the world and redefining whole industries at a breath-taking pace.

We also know that technology is a game changer. But business leaders cannot be sure how they should be planning for what’s to come. The past is no longer a reasonable guide to the future. There is so much hype now, so many unknowns, and such a degree of volatility in every area.

Research shows that the ‘pace of change’ and related threats from business model disruption has become the top emerging risk for CEOs, with health care, insurance and industrials fearing its consequences the most.

“Most industries experience disruption not from the sudden impact of a single force, but rather from a collision of interacting forces, and often with multiple, related consequences.” Sean Murphy

The Future is Now

The notion of an organization with a fixed structure and supply chain offering a well-defined range of products or services in a stable market with a set of known competitors is disappearing fast. Now, and in the future, organizations should ‘create their next cutting-edge’ by embracing new technologies to develop potentially disruptive ideas, in and outside of their current industry.

Secondly, they should ‘fund their future bets’ by putting more time, money and energy into innovations that can test and turn new ideas into commercial realities faster.

Third, if organizations cannot build or fund the necessary skills and resources internally, they should find partners (including third parties and suppliers) to scale new ideas and provide access to technologies and specialized talent.

Finally, organizations should ‘disrupt from the inside’ by fostering an internal culture that views innovation as a benefit and establishing an ‘innovation lab’ or ‘digital factory’ to test new ideas. Successful companies like Google and Microsoft still spend billions of dollars trying to find new ways to avoid disruption by leaning into disruptive technologies, testing new ideas and learning how to remain close to the innovation frontier.

SERVICEBRAND

We also believe that we will increasingly see the development of collaborative ecosystems replacing the traditional organization concept. In this every changing world, why not see how the SERVICEBRAND approach can help you navigate, innovate and disrupt the competition!

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?

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.

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