Want Customer Loyalty? Get Clear on Your Corporate Values First

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Many organizations make the mistake of launching customer loyalty programs and CRM systems before they identify their values. Customer Care Coach JoAnna Brandi explains the benefits of knowing and living organizational values first Â? and gives tips for beginning the process of identifying and implementing them in corporate culture.

“You can encourage your staff to deliver excellent customer service until the cows come home, and you can buy a top-of-the-line CRM system. But if your organization isn't clear on its values – on what it stands for - you’ll very likely undermine your efforts,” says Customer Care Coach JoAnna Brandi.

Brandi, a Florida-based expert on customer care and loyalty, asserts that for employees to be fully empowered to consistently create customer experiences that foster loyalty, they must understand and live the organization’s values – what they are, and how they show up in employee behaviors. Values provide a valuable framework for the day-to-day choices employees make and actions they take toward organizational goals.

She explains, “Unifying values are the blueprints that drive an organization's culture. If employees know that ‘excellence’ is an organizational value, they will make more choices toward that end. If 'teamwork’ is a corporate value, they’re more likely to make choices and take actions with the team’s best interests in mind.” In addition, she says that values:

  • Make it easier for employees to figure out how to ‘do the right thing’
  • Foster strong feelings of personal effectiveness and pride
  • Facilitate consensus about goals and understanding about job expectations
  • Reduce levels of job stress and tension
  • Provide a sense of order without imposing ‘rules’
  • Promote high levels of company loyalty

Brandi says one of the biggest mistakes companies make is believing that they're already living the values they feature in public relations and marketing materials. “There’s often a huge gap between the values organizations say they have, and the values they’d like to have or are actually living.”

To close that gap, she offers the following steps for defining, refining and reinforcing organizational values:

1)    Brainstorm, explore and clarify organizational values. Give everyone a clear, common everyday understanding of how you define your values and what they look like in daily behavior. Just using words like ‘integrity’ or ‘balance’ is not enough since everyone has their own definition of what words mean. Says Brandi, “The time it takes to zero in on what your organization is really about is well worth it.”

2)    To achieve or maintain your competitive edge, make sure your values are ‘customer-focused.’ This means you’ve taken the time to look at what your customers value, and usually requires an ‘outside-in’ view of your organization. Spend some time truly understanding what the customer expects from you, what their goals and dreams are and how they feel about doing business with you.

3)    Give each and every employee the opportunity to uncover his or her personal values. Why? Research shows that even if personal values are not in sync with corporate values, employees who are clear on what their own personal values are tend to be more engaged in and committed to their work.

4)    Reinforce values. Make sure they’re an integral part of your hiring, orientation and ongoing training programs. Management should consciously model organizational values, and encourage and praise staff members when they exhibit behaviors that support them.    

5)    Revisit values regularly to determine if they still make sense, or if changes may be necessary.

The bottom line: Brandi says that companies that live by their values and keep customers more easily create profits. She explains, “Today’s more cynical, demanding customers are looking for companies that are driven by their values - not just their profit motives. Organizations that know and live their values tend to create great places to work for and to do business with. They enjoy healthy profits as a result of their customers returning to buy more, with their friends and colleagues in tow.”

To obtain her special report, "Making the Intangible Tangible: Identify Your Values & Transform Them Into Action!" visit http://www.customercarecoach.com/public/values_report.asp. There is a $39 fee for the report, which features a process for identifying and defining values and the behaviors that support them. The Customer Care Coach® is a customer service training program for managers. For more information, visit http://www.customercarecoach.com/welcome.asp or contact Tracey Paradiso at tracey@customercarecoach.com.

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