Business Culture that Inspires Your Consumers
Often overlooked, business culture can be one of the most effective ways to increase a business’ bottom line. Exciting, inviting, cultures make consumers feel part of a group and inspire them to share with their friends.
Most businesses ignore the idea of culture because it can be a difficult strategy to execute. Small businesses depend tend to mold themselves based on the personality of the owner, whereas most larger brands are too bureaucratic to create a consistent corporate culture.
Nonetheless, there are a number of ways to inspire a successful business culture. Let’s begin by first exploring a few noteworthy business cultures and explaining what makes them exceptional.
- Case Study: Zappos
- Opportunities to Define Your Business Culture
- Understanding Why Culture Sells
- Indicators of a Positive Culture
One of the most well known corporate cultures’ is Zappos. It’s one that’s known to generate revenue and good will from consumers.
Here’s an example of the appreciation consumers have shown towards Zappos:
When I came home this last time, I had an email from Zappos asking about the shoes, since they hadn’t received them. I was just back and not ready to deal with that, so I replied that my mom had died but that I’d send the shoes as soon as I could. They emailed back that they had arranged with UPS to pick up the shoes, so I wouldn’t have to take the time to do it myself. I was so touched. That’s going against corporate policy.
Yesterday, when I came home from town, a florist delivery man was just leaving. It was a beautiful arrangement in a basket with white lilies and roses and carnations. Big and lush and fragrant. I opened the card, and it was from Zappos. I burst into tears. I’m a sucker for kindness, and if that isn’t one of the nicest things I’ve ever had happen to me, I don’t know what is.
What Zappos Does Well
Zappos invests in its employees and puts customer service above profits. Put simply, happy employees means happy customers. When a customer interacts with an employee who loves their job, the customer tends to love the company – happiness is contagious.
Likewise, when employees are taught that customer service trumps all, they find ways to make customers happy. Without loyal consumers, people that love what you do, you won’t create a single brand enthusiasts.
The above is a simple overview of the business culture and how it can impact a company. Before we delve deeper, let’s define what business culture is and identify specific moments where it can be molded.
It’s easy to say that you need an inspiration culture, but how do you make it happen? It’s not as simple as saying you’ve done it, the change usually comes from the top down. The executive level personality definitely trickles down and makes the difference.
Don’t believe me? Think about the last time the owner of a small business wasn’t in the office. Did the tone change? Did people work less? It’s the presence and personality of the owner that defines how the company will act.
This is the first place where your culture is defined. How you hire people and the questions you ask, lay the foundation for molding your interview. When you meet with prospective employees, is the focus on creativity and innovation? Or, are you looking for someone to simply fill a role?
Although the culture starts at the top, ultimately the culture is your employees. Some can evolve and shift their outlook to excel within a culture of customer service and innovation, but many times it means re-hiring and finding the right people.
Another aspect of your business that can define the company culture is the “atmosphere”. This includes office ambiance, decorations, events, and overall feel.
Do people feel excited to come to work? Is there noise, are people talking? Or, is it quiet and are people afraid of expressing themselves?
Creating an atmosphere of fun and excitement means happier employees. This joy and loyalty, translates to their communications with clients and customers. Wouldn’t you rather a happy employee interact with your consumers, instead of one that’s pissed off?
One of the hardest strategies to implement, when re-aligning a corporate culture, is the idea of empowering employees. Most businesses are afraid of giving employees leeway when it comes to deciding on gifting, discounts, and other courtesy programs.
The truth of the matter is that, the number of people that abuse these systems is a lot less important than the amount of goodwill accrued by empowering employees with these options.
In other words, it’s generally better for a business to trust its employees to make intelligent decisions in regards to gifting and discounts. If you hired correctly, your employees should love the business and be loyal. They won’t steal or unnecessarily give out discounts.
Without the tools to focus on customer service, your employees will be handicapped when trying to shift the culture. It’s all about promising to make every single consumer happy and empowering your employees to fulfill that promise.
At the end of the day, changing a business culture to be more focused on customer service can be risky. It involves major changes in atmosphere, business processes, and sometimes requires re-hires. So, why do it? How does it affect the bottom line?
Honestly, there’s no way to say that changing your culture will net a 20% increase in sales. But, one of the largest trends in consumerism is an anti-corporate ideal. People are tired of K-Mart and Walmart, they want smaller businesses that care about them.
Armed with this knowledge, knowing that the trend is moving towards smaller – more customer service oriented – businesses, it seems intuitive that your business should embrace this culture change.
Aside from the changes in consumer behavior, good customer service is a marketing moment. The Internet has made it so easy for people to share great customer service stories, creating live testimonials for your business.
It’s in every businesses best interest to invest in great customer service to maximize the number of marketing moments they create.
Measuring the success of a cultural shift is difficult since there aren’t true quantitative metrics; culture is qualitative to begin with. Instead, we look for indicators to determine if we’re achieving the results we need.
Note that it’s important not to mold your corporate culture to be a copy of someone like Zappos. Successful business cultures, like personalities, are unique and exciting. They define who you are.
Unrequested Positive Testimonials
The first and most telling indicator of a successful business culture is random positive testimonials. Few things are more amazing than a customer telling you how great your business is and what you mean to them.
Exciting Company Atmosphere
Another indicator is company excitement. Have your employees added their unique personality to their desks? Have you empowered them to bring their personality to the office and add to the company culture?
Making your employees feel invested in the company makes adoption of the company culture easier and more complete.
Exceptional Dedication and Loyalty
It’s one thing to be dedicated to the job and another to be dedicated to the company. Employees that love what they do are more productive and caring than their counterparts. If your business culture doesn’t inspire loyalty among your employees, how can it be expected to create loyal consumers?
We’ve gone through the era of online marketing and social media, we’re on the verge of a period where company culture will be scrutinized. How we interact as a company and how we define our business personality will drive our success as consumers become more sophisticated.
How are you shifting your company culture? What have you seen that has worked? Leave a comment and let us know about your experiences!