Your Culture Is Your Brand
Culture and brand are two sides of the same coin. Get the culture right, most of the other stuff including building a great brand, authentic customer experience and passionate employees, will fall into place on its own.
A brand is just a lagging indicator of a company’s culture.
In an interconnected world, companies are becoming more transparent than ever. An unhappy customer or a disgruntled employee can blog about a bad expedience with a company, and the story can spread like wildfire. This can either be good or bad. Good news is a great experience with a company can be read by millions of people simultaneously.
Cultivating a Culture of Customer Service
- Make customer service a priority for the whole company, not just a department. A customer service attitude needs to come from the top.
- Make WOW a verb that is part of my company’s everyday vocabulary.
- Empower and trust my customer service reps. Trust that they want to provide great service…because they actually do. Escalations to a supervisor should be rare.
- Realize that it’s okay to fire customers who are insatiable or abusive to my employees.
- Don’t measure call times, don’t force employees to up sell or use call scripts.
- Don’t hide my number.
- View each call as an investment in building a customer service brand, not as an expense I’m seeking to minimize. Remember every call is an opportunity to WOW.
- Have the entire company celebrate great service. Tell stories of WOW experiences to everyone in the company.
- Find people who are already passionate about customer service.
- Give great service to everyone: customers, employees and vendors.
Hiring for Culture Fit
- Hiring manager assess technical ability and relevant experience
- HR manager look purely for cultural fit
- Hire only if a candidate passes both interview
- Put new hires on a 4-week training program
- To make sure employees are here for more than just a paycheck, new hires are offered $2,000 to quit (starting 1st week, until 4th week)
- At the end of a training program, let the new hires take real customer calls
Progressive Training Plans
Offer courses for all departments. Employees need to complete courses in order to be promoted to certain levels within the company. Here are some sample courses Zappos offers to its employees:
- Four-week new hire training (including answering phones)
- Zappos History
- Zappos Culture
- Communication 1, 2, 3
- Inroduction to COaching
- Intro to Finance
- Science of Happinese 101
- Tribal Leadership
- 1-week Warehouse Boot Camp
- New manager orientation
- Performance enhancement
- HR 101, 102
- Leadership essentials
- Finance 2 , The planning process
- Public speaking
- Delivering happiness
- Intermediate-level competency with Microsoft Office
- Grammar and Writing 1, 2
- Stress Management
- Time Management
- WOWing through tours
- Customer loyalty skills refresher
- Progression plan workshop
Questions to ask before looking for investors and board members
- DO I really need investors? Can I avoid funding my growing more slowly
- How actively involved will my investors be? How actively involved do I want my investors to be?
- What value beyond money can my investors bring to the table (exp, connection, expertise)?
- What is the time horizon for a financial exit that my investors are expecting?
- What, if anything, are my investors hoping to get out of their involvement beyond just financial return? How would they prioritize those things?
- Do my investors and board buy into the vision and mission of the company?
- Would they accept less profits if it meant that the vision could be fulfilled faster?
- How flexible are my investors and board members in their thinking?
- Who controls the investors? Who controls the board?
- Do the core values of my investors and board members match the core values of the company?
Science of Happiness 101
Most people think When I get X I will be happy. When I achieve X I will be happy. Paradoxically this type of happiness fades quickly.
So what works? That’s where we’ll look into next.
Happiness Framework #1
- Perceived Control. In Zappos call center, they used to give raises once a year to agents. Later they decided to implement a ‘skill set’ system with a small bump in pay associated with each of the skill set gained. Agents are in full control of their pay and their skill sets to attain.
- Perceived Progress. Zappos decided to give smaller incremental promotions every six months instead that together were the equivalent of the single promotion. Employees are much happier because there is an ongoing sense of perceived progress.
- Connectedness. Happiness doesn’t primarily come from within but rather from between, which is why Zappos put so much emphasis on company culture.
- Vision / Meaning. Vision that has a higher purpose beyond just profits separates a great company from a good one.
Happiness Framework #2
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy, once our survival needs (water, food, shelter) are met we look for non-materialistic needs (social status, achievement, creativity).
- Customers: Meet expectations – Meet desires – Meet unrecognized needs
- Employees: Money – Recognition – Meaning
- Investors: Transaction alignment – Relationship alignment – Legacy
Many HR believes giving more money make employees happier. Surveys show money is farther down the list of importance than intangibles such as relationship with managers and opportunities.
Happiness Framework #3
- Pleasure: Very hard to maintain unless I’m living the lifestyle of a rock star. Shortest lasting.
- Passion: Being in zone. Flo where peak performance meets peak engagement. Second longest lasting.
- Higher Purpose: Being part of something bigger than myself. Longest lasting.
Pursue higher purpose first then layer on top of that the passion, then add on top of that pleasure type of happiness.
Deliver Happiness to the World
Make your customers happier (by focusing on customer service)
Make your employees happier (by building a healthy culture)
Make yourself happier (by learning more about the science of happiness)