Tag: Service Excellence Culure

Alignment and 4IR


The fourth revolution

Over the coming weeks, this blog will explore the relevance and importance of organizational alignment against the landscape of the new paradigm we refer to as the Values Economy. Starting us off this week is the fourth revolution and its potential impacts in an evermore and ever rapidly advancing techno-society.

4IR

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the banner name covering advances being made in areas like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, biogenetic engineering, and the internet, to name a few. More simply put, 4IR covers the way in which our world is moving from a purely physically industrial planet to one in which the lines between digital, biological, and physical technologies are overlapped.

Data is king

With the advent of social media, businesses and organizations found a main line directly to their customers consciousness. Now all our decisions are tracked across the internet, every time we search for something on Google, like a photo or make a comment, that data is collected and fed into algorithms that in turn offer more targeted ads, based on what we like to see and our predictability of making a purchasing.

The amount of data being collected is enormous, even in some instances the time to the micro-second we spend paused on an ad or picture while scrolling, and factors into what we are likely to be shown next.

Individual alignment

At one level, this might be of great benefit for advertisers and data gatherers, and even for the general public in terms of accessibility to desired content. However, the conversation might be different if we begin to centre it around the concept of values. It has never been easier for organisations to reach us with their messages, but to what extent does their influence apply to the things we believe in and value?

There is proven power in brand alignment. When we feel aligned with an organization’s values, we are more likely to spend with them, talk about them and remain loyal to their brand. But are we aligned to the authentic reality of that brand image? Or merely to a carefully tailored presentation that targets us cleverly and, perhaps, individually.

Do you see your favourite brands in the same way as somebody else and is it possible that you falsely assume that the same picture is being shown to everybody in a consistent way when it might not be?

Putting Data to Use

Use of data isn’t always an insidious erosion of our personal freedom. Often, people accept the data being gathered as the price they pay for better and more intuitive services. They trust and feel aligned to that organization’s purpose. Businesses like Netflix for example, spend millions on data collection and algorithm generation, to offer better content choices to their customers.

This kind of personalisation means almost everyone is individually seeing the kind of content they are likely to watch without having to do a lot of scrolling and searching for it.

Developing features like ‘continue watching’ also help develop customer experience by making us feel more in control of the platform, and thus able to drop in and out at our leisure; if it makes us feel good, we are far more likely to do it. It serves Netflix too, in the billions of dollars in savings they achieve through retaining loyal customers. For some of Netflix’s competitors. where content is not as accessible and intuitive, this is a serious disadvantage.

Customer Alignment and Trust

As more people become aware of the volume of data being collected about them, they begin to feel more uncertain about whether or not their trust has been put in the right places. With 83% of people believing that trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy.

‘Hard to build, easy to break.’ This phrase sums up the experience of building trust in any business or organisation. They need to be able to prove that they have the customer’s best interest at heart; that the data they are collecting is only used to tailor customer experience for the benefit of the customer, not for the organization to profiteer on.

People feel aligned with Netflix because they get offered the content they desire and are reassured their money is going back into creating the kind of content they want to see more of. This ‘trust us and we’ll keep giving you want you want’ business model has served Netflix well.

The case cannot be made the same for other organisations that make no attempt to align with their customers beliefs and values, instead choosing to push content and products on them that they don’t want or need. Or worse still use the technology to alter public opinion.

Focus

4IR is changing the world, the way we live, work, and express ourselves is shifting, as the line between reality and the online space blurs. Organizations that navigate this frontier successfully will be those that move and grow with a clear sense of shared values. Values practically applied to align with consumer and service user needs in a positive way, focusing on them as people and not as profit.

There are repercussions for developing the appropriate leadership skills and education and training systems in a world where skillset will become an increasingly transient commodity. There is also a shift from traditional organizations with fixed structures to ecosystems which are networks of organizations involved in the delivery of a specific product or service. Unexpected alliances are forged, sector boundaries blur, and long-standing strengths count for less.

SERVICEBRAND

This is where the SERVICEBRAND approach can create significant value because, irrespective of the various stakeholders, the focus remains: delivering a brand aligned customer experience through one team of brand ambassadors, supported by effective and robust systems and processes, and measurement and insight. The framework helps to keep technological advancement ‘in check’ and viewed as a support tool rather than one that takes on a life of its own.

Values and Governance

Word Cloud with Corporate Governance related tags

Your organisation’s values are the heart and foundation upon which everything you do is built. They serve as signposts or as a compass, guiding the way to fulfilling your organisation’s mission and purpose.

When you have strong organisational values, they shape how your organisation runs and is governed, allow your employees to feel aligned and connected, and make it simpler for customers to build a bond with you, when they know clearly who you are and what values you stand by.

Values-driven Culture

Having a values-driven culture means having clear and present organisational values that enable employees to align with your organisation emotionally as well as physically. Centring your company culture around your values will bring your entire workforce together to deliver on your mission and purpose.

With 94% of executives and 88% of employees believing a strong culture at work is important in a successful organisation, there has never been a better time to ask yourself, who are you and what does your company value.

Culture can be created and driven from both ends of the employee scale. New employees don’t learn about company culture from leaflets and 5-minute briefings. They learn by observing the behaviours of the leaders and colleagues around them, especially long serving ones.

Even though it is the leadership and governance teams that decide the culture and direction of the organisation, it will be the employees that are responsible for embodying those messages and passing them on to customers through their words and most importantly their behaviour and actions.

If you want a strong values-driven culture, ask yourself; do I really know and believe in my organisation’s values? Do I behave in a way that aligns with them? Or only pay them lip service.

The most important thing to remember when creating a healthy workplace culture is that ‘do as I say’ cultures are hardly ever successful in the long term, they breed resentment and unfairness among the organisation and are a barrier to full employee alignment. When you focus on a ‘do as I do’ approach and embody your values in all you say and do, your employees and customers will recognise and reward it.

What makes for good governance?

Understanding values and why they are important can also help play a role in establishing and maintaining good governance at your organisation. There are five key considerations, that serve well as a structure within which to plan culture and behaviour going forward.

The first of these is fairness. Any organisational planning that takes place needs to frame your company values in how they affect everyone that engages with you. Planning that only considers the needs of senior management will always result in an unhealthy culture, especially when other employees taking part in the work are not represented or treated equally.

They say ‘the bad’ always rolls downhill. This kind of culture is completely toxic to an organisation’s performance. Cultures of blame and blame shifting don’t serve anyone and only hurt the relationship between different levels of employees. Take accountability for your plans and actions. If something is going wrong, don’t ask “what did they do wrong”, ask, “what did I do wrong?” Especially if you are in a position of power and influence. What could you do to better communicate the values and culture of the organisation so that failings are mitigated?

Good governance needs responsible thought and action. It requires people who are able to see the whole picture and willing to bear the weight that comes with being both a governor and a leader. Too often, governors don’t get involved at all levels. Ask yourself, when was the last time I spoke to a customer or front-facing colleague?

The last two are the hardest to find among organisation culture. Having the integrity to do the right thing, (even when it costs) and the transparency to be open and honest when mistakes are made.

The pandemic highlighted this in a dramatic way. The organisations that have been most successful at navigating these complex and unexpected developments, are those that have spoken publicly and honestly to their uncertainty.

Employees, customers, and shareholders, it turns out, all much prefer organisations that are transparent, even when faced with challenges, compared with those that would hide how badly affected they are. Publicly doing the right thing can be hard, its hard to predict how others will react, but overall being honest builds trust and allows people to feel aligned with and bonded to the culture of the organisation because of it.

What can you do to encourage the above approach as a framework for effective governance? You might have noticed that we have not referred to audit, inspection, and reporting because, whilst these might have a place, they represent a means to an end and need to be handled with care to avoid an unintended consequence (which might be the opposite of the objective!). Focus on what you can do to move away from box ticking to pass inspections, or blame shifting to shirk responsibility and move into well considered, authentic governance. Quality governance is a combination of heart and head, in that order.

SERVICEBRAND

Why not connect with us and see how the SERVICEBRAND approach can help you determine the right courses of action when the desired standards aren’t being met and transform sentiment and platitudes into real and affirmative action.

Values and Reconnection post COVID-19

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

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

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

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

Employee disconnection

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

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

Identifying values

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

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

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

What matters to me?

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

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

Hybrid disruption

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

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

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

Inclusivity

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

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

Achieving Customer Service Excellence Through Employee Engagement

Your business has embraced placing customer service excellence at the heart of everything it does. It’s part of your foundations. You understand that to provide customer service excellence; your customers need to feel loved, appreciated and rewarded. 

However, what some companies forget in this happy equation is that employees providing customer service excellence need to feel loved, appreciated and rewarded too. 

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How to Create a Culture of Service Excellence

Consumer demands are continuously shifting from products to services. This means that customers have started valuing the experience a brand presents them with. The customer experience includes everything from initial engagement, to building awareness, the sales journey, service delivery, and any follow-up or ongoing engagement with the brand.

Creating a culture in which service excellence can be achieved in a sustained way can provide a competitive edge for businesses in a saturated market. To deliver dependable, consistent value, service excellence needs to be one of the driving forces at the heart of the organization.  It cannot be achieved by tweaking one aspect of the customer experience.

Continue reading “How to Create a Culture of Service Excellence”
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