Going the extra mile is seemingly missing in today’s business world; from a company’s customer support, team meetings, campaigns, and even client calls. We’ve seen examples where companies have taken that extra step to help their customers, thus creating a resounding positive word-of-mouth around that brand. So, why don’t more companies go that extra mile?
Well, this thought came full circle as I read Olivier Blanchard’s post last week about The Function of a Marketing Department. The main point revolved around the responsibility the Marketing department has in cultivating a company’s brand / message. What the lack of going that extra mile really equates to is company culture and the vision they’ve instilled internally.
Company culture is something that needs to be communicated, understood and contagious within the company …. across all departments. As I mentioned in Olivier’s post, you can have an exceptional employee that ‘gets it’, takes the reins of the brand and has the vision …. but all that goes to waste if it’s just that one exceptional person and not the entire company. So unfortunately, communicating your brand message isn’t easily achieved, as there are several roadblocks that are hit:
* The marketing department sees the brand as their territory
* Lack of leadership from the brand architect(s)
* Minimal employee buy-in (lack of morale)
* Conflicting company visions
Looks like the Marketing department has their work cut out for them, eh? First things first, we don’t own the brand …. no one person or department in the company does. What we all do own is the ability to live & breathe the brand in company meetings, training sessions and in our every day communication with our colleagues and customers. No matter who your customers talk to within the company, you should feel confident that they’re receiving the same brand message across the board. To achieve this, you have to represent the brand as a cohesive unit. How does the brand architect or marketing department do this?
* Communicate …. incorporating a culture doesn’t have to be forced. Talk with all departments and build a conversation around the company’s brand strategy and how they all have an equal stake in it.
* Involve …. Activate everyone to get them involved and build upon the culture. Find ways to innovate, make things more efficient. Getting everyone involved will help reinforce positive attitudes and show each and every person that they’re a vital part of the culture.
* Create Cohesion …. This is where the vision starts to take life. Through the communication and involvement, employees understand the vision and are able to go back to their respective departments and build upon the learned culture. Customer Service …. communicate and exude this culture with every customer you touch. Sales …. breathe the culture in your client presentations and meetings. Marketing …. execute the vision in your campaigns, the content you write and the conversations you have with your community.
Now, this is where the hard(er?) part comes in …. commitment. Now, more than ever, is this needed to uphold the culture you’ve created. It’s required, from the entire company, to stay true to the vision and to make sure that the DNA that was instilled within the company stays intact. Easier said than done but what it focuses on is leadership. A leadership team needs to be able to uphold the vision but at the same, make sure that they’re “drinking their own kool-aid” as well. This sets an example for everyone that the company truly believes in the vision and helps ensure a positive morale with employees.
As I’m sure anyone would love to receive positive word-of-mouth, building a culture that employees believe in will help create the WOM as they’ll be willing to go that extra mile by sending a thank you note to their customers, reaching out to consumers …. where they connect, or by inviting a customer to their local office for a round of Wii Tennis. Whatever it may be, the exceptional support and attentiveness, that extra mile, given to your internal and external customers will shine through, get people talking and leave a positive feeling about your company.
I could go on about company culture but what do you think? How have you instilled a positive culture within your company? What can we add to the list that helps build, or even potentially tear down, a company’s vision?