Tag: organisational alignment

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?

Why Do Organizational Values Matter?

There are numerous benefits for organizations in declaring a set of core values that embody the way you wish to go about achieving your mission or purpose. Driving collaboration and teamwork between likeminded individuals is one. Streamlining decision-making process by aligning everyone with the same ideals about the way the organization does business is another.

One of the most powerful aspects of having a strong set of organizational values is the ability to communicate who you are and what you stand for to your stakeholders. This is the case for customers, employees, service partners, investors and local communities. In the emerging paradigm we refer to as the Values Economy, successful organizations will establish a sense of shared values with all stakeholder groups. When everyone knows what your organization believes in and trusts you mean it, they have no reason to go anywhere to have their needs met. Nothing creates brand loyalty faster than trust.

Who are you?

Around 82% of people believe that a good and well understood set of values can give an organization a competitive edge. It is no wonder that so many leaders are desperate to tick this box.

But simply laminating some words and putting them up on the wall, doesn’t create a successful values-based organization. To know what you value, you must first know what you stand for. Our values are never more consciously present than when they are being tested, or when we succeed.

You cannot copy another organization’s values and expect to achieve the same outcomes. Effective values statements reflect the truth at the heart of the company. They are unique and not transferrable.

It is important to follow a robust process to explore the essence of the organization. Why does the organization exist? What does it hold true to the core and will never give up? What differentiates it from others? If you are people driven, your values will reflect this, and, if you are profit driven, that is fine too. Values are neither good nor bad, they are an expression of what matters to us. For example, if money/financial performance/return on shareholder value is important above all else, it is better to be honest about this. You might discourage some people, but you will also attract the kind of customers and service users who are aligned with that kind of value ideal. What is critical is to avoid a situation where you claim that the organization stands for something and then does not live up to this with behaviours and decisions that are made by employees (all levels).

Who do we want to be?

Once you know who you are, it is easier to decide where you would like to go. You can develop a purpose statement and set of values that will serve as a beacon for every stakeholder that engages with your organization. Now is the time for clarity and simplicity. Have confidence in the words used by the people in your organization rather than feel drawn to copy and paste other people’s values. The words need to be yours. Then when you have the concise wording, give thought to how this can be communicated to every person in the organization and, more importantly, put into practice.

Community Culture

Organizations are effectively a community, comprising of the various stakeholder groups. Just like in the rest of the world, there are healthy, flourishing communities and less healthy ones. When you articulate your values, it makes it easier for likeminded people to find and align themselves with your purpose and what you stand for.

The notion of improvement and growth is applied and understood in most areas of business. So how do you apply this to the area of values in your organization? What perception do your various stakeholders have of how well your organization’s employees live up to the stated values? If you do not know the answer to this question, how can you take action to make improvements? If your values are important to you, why would you not measure your performance? We offer a corevaluescore survey which provides a snapshot of stakeholder perception of the way in which your organizational values are lived in practice.

Remember that, as with personal values, organizational values might adapt, change, and grow. Over time, the organization will be presented with new situations, opportunities, and challenges. Sometimes the core values will remain the same but might manifest themselves in different ways. In certain situations, you might feel that there is a need to re-examine or refresh your values. The key point is, from time to time, to ask the question “Are our values (and associated behaviours) still relevant and reflect our essence?”

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe strongly in the power of organizational values. We have been delivering award-winning projects with measurable impact in this area internationally and in UK for nearly twenty years. When values are done well, they create shining beacons for employees, customers, and all stakeholders to follow. Not only that but values aligned employees and customers have much higher productivity and loyalty. You might be right at the start of your values journey or feel that it is time for a refresh, or you might be struggling to embed your values effectively in practice. Whatever stage you are at, we would love to help you take the next step so why not connect with SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL to see how we might help you create a healthier, values-driven company culture… in practice.

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!

The Power of Organizational Alignment

ca. 2001 — Rowers Rowing Boat — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Vision is the compass that points people in organizations towards the fulfilment of their purpose. But as with all things, knowing the right direction, and being able to get there are two very different things. Making your dream happen is dependent on the alignment of plans and people all being in alignment. Otherwise, the organization will fall short as it fails to maximise synergies or, in some cases, even works against itself.

All of us can dream, have a vision or a design on how we wish to shape the world. But without the support of likeminded individuals, our grand visions often come to nothing. The risks of scaling up your organization, of expanding and undertaking new projects are heavily mitigated when everyone is aligned with your values, vision, and purpose.

First steps

Some organizations love measurement metrics, others fly by the seat of their pants. But how can you find the right balance for your organization? This all comes down to how well you plan.

Time spent on planning can sometimes feel like an added burden on resources. However, deciding how you will take everyone in your organization forward, in alignment with your purpose and vision, is key to driving continued success.

The first step in unlocking the power of organizational alignment is settling on your values and having a clear purpose. Once this is done, everybody can ‘board the bus’ knowing what the direction is.

Plan for others

While your plan may contain some sensitive company strategies, on the whole it will be a statement of desired intent. Showing where the company is now, and where your plan will take it if all the steps are fulfilled correctly is a powerful tool.

Make sure that your plan does includes the relevant people, departments, or partners, so they are involved (rather than feeling left out, or like the work they do isn’t important). Self-esteem plays a crucial role in how well engaged we are with the people around us. Failing to plan and account for each department is a sure-fire way to drive a wedge into any attempts at organizational alignment.

Also, it is important that you don’t only focus your alignment strategies on your executive team alone. Everyone has a part to play in executing the strategic plan in an aligned way that achieves the organization’s vision.

If you find you have employees or partners that aren’t part of your organization’s plan, you need to consider if this is because of a lack of insight on your part, or if they are superfluous in achieving the goal. In which case, even harder conversations about those employees or teams need to be had.

Find your rhythm

Once you have you plan, it is then about finding the right rhythm to monitor and adjust as necessary. Consider breaking the plan into segments such as a 3–5-year organisational strategy plan, an annual plan, quarterly and finally weekly or month team meetings.

The crucial element in finding your flow, is understanding that your plan will work from the top down, and from the bottom up simultaneously. The information and data gathered at weekly team meetings is pivotal in informing the larger business strategy.

The employees that have the most customer, or service user contact, are the ones best informed on what your audience is thinking and feeling about your business. Make sure you have ways of getting this feedback and have scheduled time to discuss what it means for the organization and its plan.

Your organization, and the teams within it, will work far more efficiently and effectively when they know their place in the plan and can feel secure in the rhythm of its expectations. Make sure that you communicate frequently to reassure everyone that there is strong leadership.

The sum of all parts

Smart businesses know that to achieve a goal, every element of the business must be aligned with achieving that purpose. Highlighting the interdependency between all areas of your organization is a strength rather than a weakness.

Examine how each part comes together, what its function is and how it might be improved to better meet the plan and achieve the desired goals. This is what innovative organizations do: remove any friction to make operations as smooth as possible, reduce time wasted and prevent the need for work to be done multiple times.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

When your organization is not aligned, the best plans will always have a part missing, face resistance or simply fail. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL our goal is to help you achieve organizational alignment, by working with you to create a bespoke plan for your desired vision.

We want to help you create an organization that thrives on honest and open communication, that builds functional and useful plans that include everyone, whether they are executives, customer facing employees, or service partners. Let us help you unlock your future potential, by realizing the power of organizational alignment… in practice.

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!

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.

Building Company Culture

An organization’s culture is driven by its values and sense of purpose. It is the driving force behind everything you do. When organizational culture is done well, it can lead to far better performance, not just of employees, but improved relationships with customers, service users and partners as well.

One of the key mistakes organizations make is believing they have a good culture, purely because they say they do. How often have you applied for a job on the basis or belief that the organization’s values, purpose, and culture are a good fit for your own. Only to discover the company culture is superficial and goes no further than the welcome talk and training during the onboarding process.

Changing culture

Cultural change can be challenging, especially when systems and processes are deeply engrained. You would think that toxic culture would be easy to root out and remove from the workplace and customer interactions, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes employees live up to certain parts of the organization’s culture, while holding negative or reductive attitudes towards other parts.

The desire for a cultural shift often comes from a realization that something in the organization isn’t working well. In our experience, time and time again, the situation is caused by a disconnect between the organization’s stated values, purpose and culture and the reality of what is actually happening within the business.

First steps

The first key step in building a strategy to manage long term and successful culture change, is having a sense of where the organization stands right now. This can be tricky, especially if the current systems and processes in place are causing toxic behaviours in the workplace. This could look like employees lying on feedback surveys for fear of repercussions, or customers being incentivised with deals or gifts to give feedback that paints a false picture of how well the business is doing.

In the very worst cases, cultures of fear scare employees into cheating and lying about the quotas they have to fill. This is why fear is seldom a good motivator of organizational culture. You’ll get told what you want to hear, but your finances will always show the truth of it in the end, and you’ll waste years not improving because of a lack of awareness to the damaging practises going on beneath the surface.

Anonymous reporting, feedback surveys and storytelling are great ways to get true and honest feedback about the current state of company culture.

Values

At its heart your company’s culture is a reflection of your values. All of our unique human behaviours and habits are informed by our values. If you value being of service to others, habits will form that see you being of service in functional and useful ways. If you value continuous learning, adaptability, or exploration, you are more likely to create a habitual way of being that helps you fulfil these values.

Passing on our values to others is not easy, that is why it is important to understand your organization’s values in a clear and easily communicable way. This will help you find people that already align in many ways with your culture. Forcing someone to adopt a culture that is foreign to them is doable but takes a lot of work. It is far easy to know where you stand and then find people that align with that purpose.

What next?

Once you know where you are, you can create a plan to take you to where you want to be. Whether that is to improve or overhaul organisational culture, elevate the ideals of the business, or create an environment that enables innovation and service to the customers and service users to flourish beyond merely making money.

Inclusion

People who don’t feel included are far less likely to work with the processes and guidelines. Make sure to include the people that work with and for you in the conversations on culture. Not only them, but your customers as well. People are far more likely to be emotionally invested in a product or service when they feel valued and heard by the leaders of the organization.

Having customers and employees shine an honest light on the realities of company culture can be a challenging experience. Without constant diligence and attention, you can find yourself to have drifted far from the course you originally set out. While this can feel confronting, it is important to be open and honest and trust that with the right adjustments you can realign your organisational culture to properly reflect your purpose and values.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

If you are struggling with an aspect of company culture, SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL is well-positioned to help you identify your current culture, its strengths, and weaknesses. We take abstract and challenging topics out of the conceptual realm and apply them to real and dramatic effective within your organization. Get in touch today to see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL might help elevate your company culture, realign it, and develop new strategies to build your overall business health.

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!

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