Align your brand and culture to make your most powerful business driver

And not just for service organizations.

Like it or not, people are tribal. Their attitudes and behaviors are affected by their tribe, whether it’s their family, neighborhood or employer. Companies and brands that understand this can hire the right people and foster an environment that encourages them to act in a way that will deliver a customer experience that is consistent with their brand values and the brand promise they make with their advertising. What many organizations miss is that actions speak louder than words. Too often, they say one thing but do another.

Creating an on-brand culture is easier than you might think. It does involve turning over some stones that you have been avoiding, and perhaps making some long-overdue changes, but these simple steps will get you through it. You, your organization and your customers will be forever grateful.

Like most things, it starts with listening. You need to identify what’s working and what’s not. Start with a simple strengths and weaknesses exercise. You need to do this in groups of peers across the organization with a clear promise of anonymity in order to establish trust and get real honesty. You also need to involve champions and detractors. They need to be part of the solution from the beginning if you expect them to embrace change and convince others to embrace change. Often, detractors are highly committed people, you just need them to be highly committed to your on-brand culture. By including them, you will be surprised at how helpful they can be and how much of an impact they have on others. Make that impact be with you, not against you.

Use what you have learned to identify moments of truth, those interactions between your customers and your organization that can make or break the relationship, then role play possible responses. Find out what the obstacles are to the desired response and remove them. Nine times out of ten, the obstacles are some crazy policy that long ago outlived its usefulness. Removing them acts as a symbol of re-evaluation, which is key to letting the organization know that you are serious and committed to changing.

Now take a step back, look at the changes you are making to deliver the best customer experience and build your four to five key differentiators that capture the essence of the experience that you want to provide for your employees and for them to provide your customers in turn. They are the tangible things that you will do as an organization to deliver your brand promise. A couple of good ones from a past airline client are: Recovery Experts, Line Busters, Pit Crew Mentality and Get to Yes. Now tattoo that on all your employees, so they never forget. Just kidding! But do create tangible ways to integrate this into your environment to inspire people to do the right thing. This includes internal communications and HR practices, like performance reviews and clear job descriptions. Create an environment that recruits and reinforces the right behaviors every minute of every day.

What will you get for this effort? Happier customers, happier employees, a company that is better able to react to a changing environment: simpler, faster, more innovative, collaborative, accountable.  

Dan Collins

SVP, Chief Strategy Officer

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