Tag: Values Economy

Tools to Manage Customer Unhappiness

Is it admirable to pursue a business model or strategic plan that aims to ensure all your customers are happy all the time? Or is this approach unrealistic, leaving your organization open to criticism and self-doubt when faced with genuine customer dissatisfaction and unhappiness?

It is perfectly natural for customers and service users to be upset, frustrated, or annoyed from time to time. Sometimes this will be because of a specific incident with your organization. Other times, their interaction with you, was merely the last straw, before they reached their tipping point. The building frustration might have been caused just by your organization or by your organization and others. And sometimes, the issue might be related to other factors the customer is dealing with that has nothing at all to do with your organization.

Managing the unhappiness of others is complicated enough at a personal level, let alone in a professional setting. Knowing how to de-escalate difficult situations, with understanding, empathy, and emotional intelligence, gives the best chance of even the most unhappy customers being willing to give you another chance and remain loyal to your brand. To encourage you to strive for this, research indicates that customers who have had a problem resolved well are more loyal than customers who have had no issue in the first place.

What not to do

We have all had a bad customer experience and you can probably think of recent examples with little effort. Some businesses and brands seem to have a mindset that you can’t please everyone and don’t try very hard to mitigate customer unhappiness (anyone thinking budget airlines here?)

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” This explains why we feel unhappiness to a greater degree when let down personally or by an organization or service that we believed had good character. Our values play a key role in how we align ourselves to others. When something we trusted to behave a certain way lets us down, we feel that far more acutely than with an organization we know has a poor track record.

Set the tone

It is often the case that we don’t recognise what matters to us until we feel the lack of it. Empathy is one such critical value, whose absence is felt deeply. 83% of people want to feel connected with organizations in a compassionate and empathic way. Lack of empathy is cited as a motivating factor in switching business to a competitor.

Before you can resolve any potential issues, your customers must be able to trust that you will listen to them when they try to voice their dissatisfaction. Becoming confrontational, adversarial, aggressive, or rude to customers that are unhappy, risks losing them forever. One way to communicate this within the organization is that complaints, dissatisfaction, and constructive criticism are precious and welcomed. This feedback is what helps the organization to improve the service delivered to customers. If you know about it, you can take action. If you don’t know, you cannot take action. The following six step model has been used in demanding customer service environments with remarkable results:

Listen

The first step in dealing with an unhappy customer is to listen to them. Don’t talk over them, rush them, or immediately try to prove why they are wrong. Foster a deeper understanding by truly listening to why they feel so hurt and unhappy.

When people feel heard, they feel valued. A customer that feels valued and understood is far more likely to be forgiving and remain loyal to you. Keep yourself open to hearing their truth. We all interpret truth in different ways. Even if you immediately know the customer is mistaken, they will likely have been holding a great deal of tension around talking with you. If you cut them off before they can explain and release it, that angry, sadness and frustration are likely to come out anyway, often directed towards the customer service agent or call handler instead.

Empathize
Once you have listened to the customer and understood how they feel about the situation, you can show empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Demonstrate how you care about their feelings and the situation and want to help them. Customers respond to honesty. When you act with humility and understanding, it becomes easier for them to understand that even if you aren’t sure, you are actively willing to help them resolve their issue. It shows you care and will work to achieve the best possible outcome for them.

Apologize
This does not mean that you and your organization are accepting responsibility for every situation. It is your apology for the customer experiencing an unpleasant situation with negative emotions. Of course, if your organization is clearly at fault, it is best to own up to this.

React
Respond quickly, so that customers feel someone is watching out for them. Even a simple acknowledgement to buy time to diagnose the customer’s issue can help. Second, don’t shy away from responding to unhappy customers, even if you can’t immediately resolve their issue. Finally, even small gestures such as having agents sign their names or initials creates immediate value for your business. How Customer Service Can Turn Angry Customers into Loyal Ones

Notify
It is of limited benefit for customer issues to be resolved, even successfully, if other customers continue to experience similar problems. There needs to be a process in the organization to capture the details of what has happened, identify the root cause and take corrective action.
It can also be helpful to notify the customer of the improvements made so that they understand how the issue they raised has been dealt with and other customers will not have the same poor experience.

The above approach is referred to as the LEARN model and at a working session with a group of hospitality managers one of the attendees suggested a final additional step which has been added to form the LEARNT model. This is to thank the customer for raising the matter in the first place, expressing the importance of knowing about issues so that action can be taken.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global we believe in dealing with customer unhappiness and frustration in an open, empathic, and honest way. We recognise the importance of customer loyalty and consider lifetime value rather than focus on short term costs. We also strive for customers to play the role of advocates for organizations rather than the role of a saboteur. This is of particular importance in our super connected world of the internet and social media where customers can communicate their thoughts and feelings in a heartbeat to millions oof people around the world…. And you have no idea of their reach.

You might be experiencing high levels of customer complaints or low levels of customer loyalty. Or you just might be curious to know what the positive impact on business performance could be of improved customer service and loyalty. Either way, get in touch to see how we could help you build better practices in your organization.

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.

How to Create an Encouraging Workplace Culture

Creating a culture of encouragement and support in your organization can be a challenge. Successful culture isn’t about maintaining positivity 100% of the time. It is more about employees feeling a sense of belonging, being part of something and contributing that is valued. They need to feel that they can engage with leadership in a common cause to achieve the organization’s vision and objectives. When employees feel seen and heard, it bolsters confidence to face challenges and improves resilience to overcome setbacks, knowing they are supported.

The pitfalls of positivity

It is not possible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time, group-wide or individually. It is also important to understand that everyone is unique and does not fit a standard mould when it comes to positive thought and action.

Leaders have a responsibility as well as a privilege to ‘set the tone’ in an organization. Encouragement at an individual level is key. When positivity is enforced without focusing on encouragement at an individual level, employees can lose their sense of self-worth and self-belief, leading to potential burn out. Toxic positivity is a leading cause of demotivation among employees. Telling someone to be happy, doesn’t make it a reality. On the other side of the coin, leaders can exert significant positive impact on any event. Employees welcome honest presentation of the facts (even when this might not be comfortable), an inclusive approach to identifying potential solutions and are generally motivated to make an improvement. If your employees are struggling to maintain a natural and balanced sense of positivity in the workplace, it is your role as a leader to discover why this is the case.

Leaders lead… in practice

It can be tempting for leaders in organizations to think that their role is to focus on the future and planning. Of course, this is true… but not at the expense of becoming disconnected from the need to support day to day operational delivery. Employees need the right tools to do the job alongside the encouragement to overcome challenges. It is a key leadership role to make this happen, and, if or where this is not possible, to agree another approach. Pretending the challenge does not exist is not an option. In general, employees want to do a good job. Of course, human error happens but usually when something goes wrong, the reason is a business process that is not fit for purpose, inadequate tools, poor communication or similar. When you face these situations, resist the temptation to place blame and, instead, encourage people to understand what went wrong, why this happened, the impact of the situation, the importance of identifying a solution and how future repetition can be avoided.

Every voice matters

Building an encouraging organizational culture starts with listening. This can be scary for leaders who sometimes think there will be an expectation for them to address every issue raised. However, an open and practical approach is generally appreciated “It is so helpful that, with your valuable input, we have now identified a wide variety of issues that need to be addressed. The XYZ team has reviewed the list and conducted a high-level assessment to identify how we can focus our efforts for the best impact. I will share this plan, so you know what we are planning to do and when. Your ongoing input will be critical as we progress to get the best results.”

Employees are often our first point of contact with customers and service users. What they say and do, has a dramatic impact on how the organization is perceived by customers. Because of this proximity to customers, these employees are also the first people to know when something is not working, unfair or causing problems. These ‘eyes and ears on the ground’ are priceless, so grasp the opportunity to tap into this rich seam of knowledge and make employees an integral part of the decision-making process.

When you encourage your employees to speak up and practice listening to what they have to say, you’ll keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization. Recognise, affirm, and reward employees for bringing their voices and positive contributions to the table.

On another practical note, there will be a minority of outlandish or even inappropriate requests. Don’t allow these to knock you of course by giving them to much attention or airtime. This is where your judgement as a leader comes into play – humour can be a valuable tool in some (but not all!) situations.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Teams made up of people that think and act the same can be stagnant, uninspiring, and blind. Diversity of thought breeds innovation. What can you do to create more difference of people, background, character, and ideas?
Team building exercises and challenges are a well-established way to simulate the stress of a real crisis and give people the opportunity to bond, trust each other, and begin to trust their ability to get the job done. These kinds of exercises also give you the chance to model the kind of encouraging behaviour that you wish your employees to model – no derision if they make an error and, instead, supportive, and constructive feedback, encouraging them to try again when facing difficulties.

To create real value from this sort of activity, consider two points. First, team building shouldn’t only work horizontally. Vertical integration is pivotal in building the kind of lasting culture that sees strong teams trained to believe in their abilities and achieve greater results for the organization. Marriott’s Spirit to Serve program was a powerful global initiative founded on cross-functional and hierarchy workshops. The second point is to make sure that the team building experience and lessons is taken back into the organization, applied, and developed. Otherwise, these events can become a fond memory with no lasting impact on the organization.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe in the power of encouragement to create a healthy, flourishing and long lasting positive organizational culture. Perhaps you have an aspiration to build the kind of teams and culture proven to improve profitability, retention, and longevity or maybe you are struggling with your current organizational culture. Either way, why not see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can help you create new and more meaningful ways of engaging with your employees.

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!

Values-Driven Leadership


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

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

Living your values at all levels

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

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

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

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

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

Self-reflection

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

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

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

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

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

Our unique purpose

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

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

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

Open and honest communication

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

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

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

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

Keeping up with changes in the CX world

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

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

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

Permanent shift

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

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

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

Connection, empathy, and care

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

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

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

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

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

CX evolved

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

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND

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

Navigating Brand Identity

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

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

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

Component parts

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

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

The changing tide

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

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

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

Positive and Negative

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

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

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

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

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

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

Employee Engagement is a two-sided coin

In an increasingly technology dependent world, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that people (employees) are often the first point of contact your customers or services users have with your organization. When they are motivated and equipped to do the job, employees can be valuable ambassadors for your brand, but, at the same time, if their needs are ignored, they can become despondent and unmotivated, not performing at their best and having a potentially damaging impact; both of these outcomes have a critical effect on your organization’s image, and overall performance (including financial performance).

When you are able to establish a sense of shared values, engaged employees become the best asset you have for representing your organization and what it stands for to others and, in turn, this will create sustained performance over time.

The flipside of employee engagement

When done well, employee engagement will become a powerful tool. But when it is not managed well, it can cause serious challenges with an employee’s ability to cope and manage their workload and stressors. Burnout occurs when people reach a point of consistent mental or physical exhaustion; most commonly brought on by periods of prolonged stress.

How you implement your employee engagement strategy will play a key role for employees in determining the health of the relationship they have with the work they do. Engagement and motivation are achieved through connecting to an employee’s sense of worth and purpose. But this is a starting point rather than a silver bullet. Constant care and attention are needed in understanding the demands of day-to-day work and how different people respond in different ways. Stress associated with achieving results can have a positive impact on one person and the opposite on another. Managing the differences at a human level might be the single most important aspect of employee engagement and leadership.

Motivational balance

Having employees driven by purpose, aligned with your organization’s values will add consistent and positive value to your business. But purpose driven work can also create huge pressure where employees might not be able to switch off from their work, creating potentially destructive stress cycles. By way of example, consider some people who work in the health care sector. They are highly committed to providing the best level of care and service possible but sometimes this is at a cost to their personal wellbeing.

It is an employer’s responsibility to keep track of their employees’ wellbeing, to ensure that their engagement doesn’t come at the cost of their health. And sometimes employers might be tempted to take advantage of high levels of commitment. Do you know people who have worked when they are sick, not taken holiday they are entitled too, or worked on their days off? These examples should not be taken as examples of employee engagement because they are instead examples of abuse of employee engagement.

Sustainable practice

Correctly motivating and engaging employees is a complex process. In a world where stress can feel like a normal state of being, the sense of burnout that can occur from being in a constant state of anxiety, will more often than not have a negative impact.

The best employee engagement practices are those that focus on sustained commitment and performance over the long term rather than short term performance and financial results.

Responsible engagement

Responsible engagement begins with the employer correctly identifying the values and purpose of the organization, before communicating that to the employees. But it is not enough to tell the employees what they should value. It needs to be lived in the way everybody in the organization behaves when things are going well, and especially when things aren’t going well.

The key point is that motivation and engagement are not necessarily wholly positive elements in themselves. They need to be correctly managed and understood, so that employees have the time to give their best, to learn, grow and develop, and to feel a sense of fulfilment.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, our mission is to help organizations create effective employee engagement strategies, that don’t place profit over people. That help you find the natural grooves in your values and purpose to create excellent customer experiences for your customers and service users, while teaching your employees how to recognise their worth personally and as part of a larger organization.

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.

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