Welcome to Part 5 of my blog series on Going From Good to GREAT. If you haven’t read Part 1:Creating Core Values in the Relationship Economy, Part 2: Engage an Effective Vision, Part 3: Validate Your Employees or Part 4: Build a Village Through Relationships yet, I recommend that you read it for a little perspective and understanding of our conversation. On the other hand, even if you haven’t read part 1, 2, 3 or 4, I’ve written the series so that each article is independent of the other parts. If you have read my first piece, you might want to skip down a little lower to the guts of Part 5. I have include the upper part of my previous post in the beginning of this article as a quick refresher so it might make a little more sense to you, the reader.
What does it require to take your business or personal life from Good to Great?
I have found in my research and experience the same traits that create a great personal life also create a powerful business life. What’s good for you personally is good for your business as both are intimately connected to people. A company is a living, breathing, entity, just as you are, made up of collective parts that create a whole. It exists within a sphere of relationships, just as you are.
From time to time you’ll see articles written by me in my “Good to Great” series. Today’s article is on creating Core Values. I’ve written it from the corporate perspective, however, even if you don’t own or lead a company, you likely work for one, and knowing the information I’m sharing here is a step forward for you to be an even better version of yourself whether you’re the CEO or at the bottom of the organizational chart. The research and ideas listed here can also be used to cultivate awareness which serves to support you in your journey to be a better human being. What I have come to understand in my experience over the past 25 years researching and speaking on personal and business relationships, is that the skills and techniques that make better organizations also make better people.
In today’s world, we are moving into a post-consumer age called the relationship economy. With the widespread use of the internet, instant global communications and most dramatically, social media, we are entering an era defined by two-way relationships between brands and bodies. Today’s consumer wants to be heard, whether it’s to voice a concern to management or request a particular color image on their laptop case. Transactions are being defined by emotions and relationships not just dollars and cents.
According to Forbes Magazine, 78% of consumers say that posts made by companies on social media influence their purchases and an even greater 81% say that posts made by their friends influence their purchasing decisions. This result was from a 2012 survey. One can only imagine with the continued permeation of social media into all aspects of our lives that this number has only increased. Relationships drive purchase decisions. Purchases are the lifeblood of every company.
With this knowledge, how does an enterprise go from Good to Great? We build relationships. True two-way relationships which interact regularly with customers to receive and act on their input. The customers of today are much more savvy then in years past and expect company’s to pay attention to them. They also have instantaneous and much louder methods for voicing their displeasure as well as their support. (Case in point, the recent media exposure regarding Southwest Airlines and a gentleman and his two young daughters that were booted off a flight for the father Tweeting his displeasure about a rude gate agent. Allegedly the gate agent made him de-plane, and insisted that he delete his Tweet on Twitter before being allowed to re-board and fly. Click for the full article here by ABC News.)
With the Relationship Economy in-mind I’ve laid out the 5 V’s of building a Great Enterprise. The 5 V’s are:
1. Values: Create Core Values
2. Vision: Engage an Effective Vision
3. Validate: Validate Your Employees
4. Village: Build a Village Through Relationships
5. Voice: Listen to the Voice of Your Current and Potential Customers.
These 5 V’s: Values, Vision, Validation, Village and Voice, are built around the concept of improving relationships inside and outside of the company. In fact, the 5 V’s are closely based on my RelationShift® model of success and reflect the importance I put on positive, uplifting relationships in both our personal and professional lives.
In this article I will speak on the fifth concept: Voice
It is critical in today’s Relationship Economy to listen to what your customers are telling you. Listen for everything, praise, questions and most importantly complaints or problems with your product or service. The criticism’s, sometimes even undeserved, are hard to hear, whether you are in leadership, an executive, front-line employee, or a solo-preneur. Creating an environment where team members can respond to criticism in a constructive way, by both meeting the needs of the customer and also sharing the issue with the organization is critical.
By building your customer service team focus around understanding your customer’s needs you encourage team members to be open to receiving criticism and praise and you create an experience where clients are open to share their experience. Why is this important? Why not just let your customers do business the old fashioned way and just share their experiences if they see fit? Because, knowledge is power.
A 2011 American Express survey found that 7 out of 10 customers were willing to spend more with companies that provide excellent customer service. The same survey also found that 78% of respondents had not made a purchase because of a poor customer service experience. Your client’s experiences are critical in the success of your company.
In the Relationship Economy, wealth is not only derived from a monetary transaction, but social transactions as well. Receiving, sharing and acting upon customer feedback provides you with a leg-up on your competition, as well as, happier clients! By truly appreciating their input to make your business BETTER, you will build longer term customers who will continue to purchase your products and services in the future.
Some ways of receiving client input are:
The best time to receive input is when a customer is face-to-face with a customer service representative or front-line team member. You have their attention and can receive their immediate response to your transaction. This can be somewhat unnerving for even the best employee to inquire about, however, if you create an environment where it’s okay for team members to receive feedback, both positive and negative, you will go a long way towards more client response and more engaged employees.
Surveys are another great way to receive information from customers. Whether it be an online, telephone or face-to-face survey, this is a broad way to understand your customer base better. Be understanding however, as surveys only tell you one part of the customer service puzzle. Those who are more likely to take the survey are those who are the happiest or most unhappy with your service levels.
Receiving in-the-field feedback from employees is another great way of building a relationship with your customers. Employees will have an idea post-transaction of how well the process went. By building an inclusive environment which encourages authentic self-analysis is a critical element of superior customer service. Allowing team members to learn from their mistakes and improve their approach is essential in building a top flight organization.
Monitoring reaction to your brand, products and services online and in social media is becoming a must for all businesses. A negative experience, quickly shared online virally can touch thousands of people in an instant and create instant damage to your image. Having a dedicated individual or team who constantly manages your social media presence is imperative to rewarding customers who share positive experiences and reacting to and correcting customers who have a product or service complaint.