strengthen corporate culture for a strategic business advantage

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“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard Branson

It may seem counterintuitive to put customers second, but will this strategy actually lead to a more satisfied customer experience? Branson maintains that customers and shareholders reap the rewards when employees are well cared for and are highly engaged in the purpose of the company.

Here are three strategies to improve corporate culture and yield positive results with customers.

  1. Effectively communicate employee expectations

Leigh Richards explains how effective internal communication will benefit the customer experience: “If employees are informed and engaged, communications with other constituencies are likely to be strong as well.”  Richards maintains that “Effective communications help to establish clear expectations for employees and, perhaps surprisingly, for customers as well.” Employee expectations should be communicated clearly during the initial employee onboarding experience and throughout ongoing training experiences. When employees fully understand what is expected of them to receive positive feedback, they communicate customer expectations more clearly.

While our increasingly connected business environment offers several ways to maintain internal communication (Yammer, Slack, Trello, etc.), it’s surprising that so many companies still struggle with their channels of communication. What these companies fail to realize is that, in this day and age, information is a commodity in and of itself, regardless of the product. In a world of instant gratification, customers have zero patience for a company that stumbles for an answer to their questions. Establishing thoughtful lines of communication is not only a great way to build internal company culture, but it keeps you ahead of your competitors with a workforce that can meet your customers’ needs with fast, relevant answers.

Ultimately, happy employees equal happy customers, and that will improve everyone’s bottom line.

  1. Foster an inclusive workplace

What does an inclusive workplace look and feel like? Employees feel more engaged when they feel like part of the team. Employees feel valued when managers listen to their concerns and ideas. Richards explains: “When employees know their ideas will be sought after, that company leaders will have open minds and be responsive to their feedback, they’re more likely to contribute their ideas.” The inclusive workplace fosters a team mindset that increases loyalty and dedication. Appreciation and recognition for employee contributions encourage legendary customer service because employees are vested in making the company great.

Our current workforce no longer sees a steady paycheck as solid grounds to stick with a job. Today’s college graduates are more interested in landing a job where they feel as though they are making some kind of difference or forging a path of innovation. Companies that merely offer a standard benefit package and competitive salaries are being left behind in favor of companies that go out of their way to create professional value for their employees. When employees feel like their day to day duties carry more than just a dollar amount, they become much more than a workforce—they become ambassadors.

  1. Facilitate the digital workplace

Team members feel more engaged when they are trusted and empowered to do their job, rather than when they are micromanaged. This is a requirement to facilitate a successful digital workplace, where according to Paul Miller, CEO of Digital Workplace Group, “work is not a destination” and “performance is measured by output not presence.”

Despite the potential for improved employee satisfaction with the digital workplace, which enables employees to work away from the office, Miller warns: “All too often, companies focus on technology rather than employee’s experiences. That can create resistance and ultimately fail to gain the benefits that the technologies were designed to create.” A fine-tuned focus on employees’ needs is critical in facilitating a successful digital workplace.

Not only does facilitating a digital workplace offer a flexible schedule for your employees, but it also shows them that you value their unique work-to-life balance. Our current generation of professionals comes from increasingly diverse backgrounds, and often has important responsibilities outside of their professional lives. Having the option to work remotely not only increases employee output and confidence, but it lets them know that you value their obligations outside of work.  As Klaus Holse, vice president of Microsoft Western Europe, said: “Businesses that will be successful in the future will be those who break down the barriers between people, workplaces, and technologies and empower their employees to be productive and creative wherever they are… competitive advantage increasingly comes from letting employees use technology in the way they want to. This requires a business culture that puts people first.”

The take away

Improve corporate culture by putting employees first, and customer satisfaction will improve. Customers will benefit when employers clearly communicate expectations to employees while taking steps to make their corporate culture more inclusive. As employers explore ways to facilitate a digital workplace that enhances the employee experience, the customer experience will improve too.

By michael roche
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