Tag: The 31 Practices

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?

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.

Why Measurement and Insight Matters

Measurement and insight can be defined as the effective and efficient use of data to inform the future development of the organization at all levels. The purpose of collecting this data, is to give the organization’s leaders the best possible picture of the impact being made by the organization.

To impact in this regard means to have a strong influence or effect on someone or something. Impact is often associated with measurement and reward in organizations, especially those following a golden rule. “What get measured, gets done.”

If you are not measuring the impact your organization is having, nor the impact of external factors acting on it, then, how can you possibly create a strategy to effectively navigate the complexities of the organizational world?

The Measurement Matrix

Creating a measurement strategy can sometimes feel overwhelming, planning a strategy for how you will measure the things that will create this strategy can also feel like extra and unnecessary work.

Don’t let the multitude of strategic measurement and insight tools put you off, it is far simpler to create a flexible measurement matrix that can change and shift as you do, while retaining the ability to measure the right data.

Correctly measuring all the data available about your organization will give you a good indication about whether you are currently where you want to be. We start the process by looking at the organizations primary objective. What is the overarching goal of the business?

Once you know the answer to this question you can hold it up next to the collected measurement data and see if you believe the numbers reflect your goal, if you are underperforming against it, or if you have knocked it out of the park.

Target setting

Once you know if your overall objective is being achieved or not, it is time to start setting smaller goals or targets to help you course correct or plot a course to greater future growth in the organisation.

These goals can be slightly abstract, but your main focus should be in setting goals that are evidencable and measurable. If for example, one of your business goals is to measure customer experience. You must design surveys and methods of interaction, that allow your customers to give honest and in-depth replies. It is not enough to do one Twitter poll and consider your measurement achieved.

Performance indicators

The next step in making the measurement matrix as valuable as possible, is identifying which Key Performance Indicators you will use to keep your organization on track. For example, in the service industry, keeping track of the number of rooms booked, or event tickets sold, versus the number of complaints. Comparing positive and negative aspects of business is a great way to track and measure performance.
When you set reducing the number of complaints as a KPI, you build a strategy that focuses on identifying customer issues and resolving them as a matter of priority so that they don’t continue to affect other customers’ experiences.

Metrics and Analysis

The next steps seem like the easiest, but often tend to be where organizations struggle, as they fail to connect the dots between all the data they have collected and what they should then do with it to improve their organization’s performance.

It is impossible to cover every single metric, but with more collection strategies, you have more building material at your disposal to create plans and frameworks to greatly improve what your business does.

How you choose to analyse the data, will also affect your strategic planning. You might have very different results between online surveys and in-store or on location ones. If you aggregate these insights together, no one gets the data they need to make well-informed decisions. So, it is important to organise your metrics in a way that lets you create tangible KPIs for specific areas of your business. A nuanced and targeted approach is required to maximise effective and efficient strategic development.

Insight

The last part of any effective measurement matrix is insight. You have decided what data you want to collect and have successfully gathered it. Now is the time to combine each area of the matrix to create a fluid measurement strategy that lets you track your process, adapt, and overcome challenges and sets markers for potential future growth and direction.

The strategy becomes a compass that points always towards your organizations key objective. When the matrix is well-designed, it becomes easy to gain insight and perspective on your organization. It will tell you when you aren’t on track and guide you back to your goal.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we specialise in helping you plan your plan. We are strong supporters of measurement and insight as an aid to decision-making and accountability. It has never been cheaper or easier to collect data, and yet without strong leadership and understanding of the core objectives of the business, all of this information goes to waste in strategies that are too basic to accurately account for all the issues facing the organization. Let us help you get back on track.

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?

Customer Service and Effective CX Strategies

Customer Experience on Modern Style Illustation. with Orange Arrow and Hand Drawn Icons Around. Customer Experience – Business Concept. Inscription on Brick Wall with Doodle Icons Around. 3D.

Customer service is one of those areas that seems to be written and talked about by experts and put forward as the key to business success. And yet how often do we experience outstanding customer service? Rarely. Outsourcing of customer service functions, poor understanding of the importance of quality service and limited ways to effectively resolve issues all play a part in making customers feel at best frustrated and at worst, invisible with no voice once an organization has taken their money.

This approach to customer service takes its toll because if customers aren’t having a good experience, they are more likely to try out a competing brand or service. It is good to remember that your competitor is only one mouse click away.

CX reimagined

Imagine a world where customer service is the key strategy… in practice; where customer service delivery shapes all decisions and choices by everybody in the organization; where the best measurement and insight tools create tailormade user profiles for each customer, specifically designed to give everyone the best possible experience and interaction with the organization; where the business leaders are obsessed with creating and improving purposeful interactions, that keep the customers feeling valued, in a sustainable but ever evolving way.

What is it and why should I care?

A customer experience (CX) strategy is a plan that focuses on a value-based holistic approach to customer service and interaction. One that places less important on making customers buy the product or service, and more on how they feel while they do it.

This is by no means an easy task. It requires a detailed understanding of not only the purpose of your organization, but a willingness to view customers through the lens of their values and emotions, rather than just their wallets.

Most important is a thorough understanding of the customers’ journey. Here are some questions to consider:

• How do customers find you?
• How are you making your products/services available to customers?
• What are your customers’ motivators e.g. necessity to buy, lack of alternatives, best value, ease of purchase/delivery/use, values alignment, loyalty to your brand or organization?
• If they are loyal, do you understand why?

Consider the simple matter of how easy it is for customers to make contact across a range of channels. If it is difficult and/or complicated to get information or to make a complaint, customers might become disengaged from your organization, and far more likely to change their brand allegiance.

Where do I start?

The world of marketing and advertising has evolved. Previously, the product or service was created and then ‘sold’ to the customer, not just on a rational (often financial) basis but emotively as well. But as the markets have become flooded with competing brands, creating positive differentiation has become more of a challenge.

The key to starting a good CX plan is to consider the customer experience, before the product, and work your way backwards. What do people value and what are they missing? How will they feel if they can get what they consider to be lacking or be connected to an organization that shares their values.

Start there and work your way back to the product/service you offer and then the processes necessary to create and implement it. When you not only meet, but exceed a customer’s expectations, they are far more likely to be repeat customers, and not only that, but are also more likely to become brand ambassadors, offering ever-valuable free word of mouth recommendation. Today, your organizational stakeholders are the new marketing department.

Listen to the people you want to serve

One of the common errors in effective CX strategy development, is a failure to effectively measure, understand and then implement changes on customer feedback. Profit is not a great indicator of customer service. When given competing options, customers have no reason beyond you having met a basic required need or service, to not jump ship when treated even fractionally better by another brand.

Creating multi-channel lines of engagement is a great way to not only gain vital feedback but to also give customers a freedom of choice in how they interact with you. Some may prefer social media, others email, and still others to speak to a human being on the phone. But the key to this is having as many ways as possible for customers to feedback about their experiences, if you can’t effectively measure their experiences, then how can you hope to improve their experience?

When you have taken the time and trouble to collect data, make sure that it is analysed and used to make decisions. If this doesn’t happen, what was the point in collecting the data in the first place?

Effective resolution

If you are looking to improve customer service, don’t wait until there is a problem to be fixed. Take a proactive approach, for example having a live chat assistant on your website to help deal with any queries about your organization before they become complaints. Or by having a dedicated customer support line for customers to voice their concerns before making a purchase. Two key points to remember with problem resolution: first, do everything possible to resolve an issue at the first point of contact; secondly, always view the problem from the customer’s perspective (and understand that this can vary from one customer to another).

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL our goal is to help you create the most effect CX strategy, regardless of your organization’s size. We can help you understand the limitation of your current strategies, and help you create and implement strategies that offer the best customer engagement possible, through measurement, insight, and optimization. When coupled with an ability to continuously learn and adapt to your customer feedback, your CX strategy will begin to take on a life of its own, one that will always be aimed at creating even better customer experiences.

Learning in the Values Economy

The world is changed, and the way we live and work is changing with it. The time when a fixed set of skills could guarantee consistent employment is almost over. The new skills currency is in our ability to learn and adapt to a constantly shifting and an ever-evolving working environment.

When things can change at a moments notice, those people that are the most adaptive and actively engaged learners are most likely to not only retain their employment but thrive in the kind of environment that puts positive pressure on their abilities and challenges their growth.

But this is not just limited to technical or specialist knowledge, how well a person can understand a company’s values and purpose, and then align with them, while maintaining their own fresh and unique perspective, will also serve as a determining factor for how well they fit in at that organisation.

Learning to learn

Career patterns are diversifying rapidly, as long-term positions are replaced by automation or refusal to pay a living wage. As a result our career paths take a much more winding route to financial security.

Resultant of these rapid changes, people are having to adapt, become more fluid and learn to quickly develop themselves in any direction needed to ensure their security and stability in the workplace.

But again, this is not just about our ability to take in facts, learn functional skills or change to suit any organisation that will hire us. It is about recognising our own inherent abilities and values, so that we may more quickly match ourselves in the direction of growth we naturally seek.

The majority of us have worked a job at some point in our life that we did not like. Outwardly, often no one could tell, but it didn’t leave us feeling valued or fulfilled. When learning to learn, it is important to place your values at the heart of the conversation with yourself, if you don’t, you’ll instead have to stay in a position that forces you to put your own development and growth on the back burner, it is likely your career will stagnant, and you’ll become stuck in that job, or on that economic pathway.

Finding Values role models

Cognitive diversity is important in any organisation, it is what keeps the business fresh and up to date with the culture of the society it rests in. If we want to improve our ability to work with others, we need to look at what the people who share our values or sense of purpose are doing and see what we like and what we feel we could innovate on. It is these collective collaborations that serve to solve any problem facing the organisation, as employees are no longer set to one task, but are challenged to contribute to all aspects of the business, its mission and purpose.

If you are an employee, seek out the people you perceive as successful, and don’t ask them to draw you a map of what they did to get there, but ask them what values they embody and identify with. This will give you a much better blueprint for individual success.

If you are an employer, understand your values and purpose, but create a diverse team of learners that can offer new ideas and perspectives on that purpose. If you don’t champion cognitive diversity, you are preparing yourself to run around in circles always wondering why you organisation isn’t performing at its best and having no one brave enough to tell you the truth.

Challenging purpose

Innovation comes at the boundary of stress and struggle, the more we are pressed, the greater our reaction to alleviate that stress, or find ways of doing things that create less of a struggle. When approaching the values economy, it can be easy to think of alignment as agreement, but this is not always the case.

There is a big difference between disagreement and refinement of values. Employees should serve as whet stones with which to hone and sharpen the quality of the organisation, not destroying existing purpose and values, but challenging them to ensure that they are truly lived, and not just words that pay lip service to a marketing campaign.

When you are able to find people who are active learners, capable of challenging the status quo in healthy and productive ways, it can only have a positive result on organisational identity, longevity and profitably.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND we can help you identify and implement strategies to find people that have an infinite capacity for learning, people who already have a passion for service and authentic values driven behaviour. Moderated by their own sense of purpose and values that will contribute positively to your organisation in a learn it all way, rather than stagnating with a know-it-all mentality.

Building Better Employee Engagement

A recent Mckinsey report highlights why it has never been more important to know how to positively engage employees. When done successfully, enormous previously untapped connection and potential can be uncovered, which leads to greater efficiency, increased motivation and output, alignment and integration across the entire workforce and far better customer satisfaction at the point of use or sale.

The internet and blogosphere is filled to the brim with lists and articles on improving employee engagement or removing the barriers that prevent good engagement in the first place. These are important because of how much of an impact engaged employees have on productivity, profitability, and retention figures.

Missed opportunities

The most critical of opportunities are sometimes missed because organizations fail to take engagement seriously, often having no desire to enhance the employee experience above government mandated baselines.

Employee engagement comes from the employee’s entire experience within the organization, lip services campaigns, a voucher or party once a year, or a prayer room that gets used as a stock room too, do not make for happy and productive employees.

If your organization is spending time trying to copy and apply generic fixes from a list, they are unlikely to deliver positive results. Nice one-off initiatives and job perks are not substitutes for a healthy and purposeful working environment and experience.

Employee Perspective

When starting on the engagement journey, it is important to first find out where your employees are underserved. This can require a lot of patience, an open mind, and an understanding attitude. It is not giving your employees everything their hearts desire; you still have an organization to run! It is about not wasting time or resources on benefits that employees haven’t asked for, that might feel condescending or belittling.

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes when you talk to them about how the organization could better serve them. Be respectful and show that you are open to connection, collaboration and including everyone in the journey. Employees that feel heard are twice as likely to engage with the organization in a positive way. It is those positive connections that keep the business cycle healthy, productive, and profitable.

Organizational Values

Just as important as knowing where employees stand, is for them to know where you stand. Having clear and communicable values is pivotal in driving engagement with your colleagues. When people are clear about where you stand, it is a lot easy for them to stand with you. When their values align with those of the business, deeper more purposeful work is undertaken, that creates a much more positive and strong organizational culture.

This kind of alignment is fantastic for your service users, customers, and clients as well. When employees are engaged and aligned with the values of the business, they exude those values to the customers. In turn, this builds your brand image in a positive way in the minds and hearts of your target demographic. When customers feel that employees are happy and engaged in their organizations, they feel happy too, and this builds trust and life-long brand loyalty.

Breaking down barriers

In order to fully understand engagement, it is wise to consider your own attitude. You could be inadvertently creating more barriers, by making assumptions about the people that work for you.

We believe that the vast majority of people are honest and hard-working., When given a clear mission and set of desired outcomes, they will get on with the job to the best of their ability if they feel valued and have something meaningful to work towards. If you think your employees are lazy, or only there for a paycheck, what does this say about you? Blaming employees for being poorly engaged is like blaming a car for running out of fuel when you didn’t give it any gas. Lack of teamwork, poor relationships with managers and a lack of opportunity for development and grow are all key areas that can act as barriers to effective employee engagement.

A shift in mind set is needed, from “what can I do to force these people to be productive for me or my organization?”, to “what systems and processes can I put in place to attract and engage the kind of people who are naturally going to do an amazing job?”

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND approach can help you achieve this shift in mindset, by helping you understand your current organizational culture, identify what barriers to employee engagement might exist, and help you to remove them. Our service can help get you on the right track, so that your employees feel heard, valued, and appreciated, which in turn can only increase your productivity, positive brand image and profitability.

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.

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.

4 mistakes “values-driven” organizations make

In the six years since the first edition of The 31 Practices book was published, the topic of values has caught the imagination all over the world.  It has become fashionable for organizations to describe themselves as values-driven and yet, for the stakeholders (employees, customers, service partners, local communities, investors, members, citizens) of some, if not many, of these organizations, there is a disconnect between the aspirational words and the experienced reality. To quote the legendary baseball coach, Yogi Berra “In theory there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice, there is”.

So why is it such a challenge to be a values-driven organisation… in practice?  Here are four mistakes organizations can make, and you might be able to add more to the list.   Consider the questions in each section and how they relate to your own organization.

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