How does remote culture affect your customers?
It looks like work has changed forever folks--and with it, customer behavior. IBM polled more than 25,000 U.S. workers and found that 54% would prefer to work remotely. If those numbers hold true, it means big changes in how we communicate with customers and their emotional reactions to companies.
It’s something that Branden O’Neil, founder of Atlas Rose Marketing Leadership, has been thinking about for a while. “There are real advantages to having a remote team and this is well documented. Of course, there’s one real downside too that gets less attention: the eroding of company culture.”
There is a direct relationship between internal company culture and customer experience. When culture suffers, so does the client. Most leaders understand that their organization has to stand for something--companies need to have a personality and be staffed with great people.
While defining a culture is one thing. Executing the culture so that it permeates throughout the organization to employees, vendors, and ultimately customers--is another challenge entirely. When you don’t have your team under one roof, it makes it even harder to execute.
“We’re witnessing this lack of execution right before our eyes. If your company doesn’t work to keep your culture, you can expect employees who are simply a group of uninspired order takers and customers who lack the enthusiasm to promote your brand. From a marketing perspective, that’s devastating and difficult to turn around.” says O’Neil.
A company’s culture can erode a little each day. When companies are slow to respond to inquiries, the recent health crisis is often cited as to why. While that may be partly true, it’s also a convenient excuse for poor customer service.
Can a strong culture fix that problem? “Absolutely,” says O’Neil.
Let’s take Southwest Airlines as an example. They are widely recognized as both a great company to work for and also one with a great culture. In an industry not known for stellar customer service, Southwest has bucked the trend for nearly 50 years.
Southwest employees feel like a unified team. And if a customer has a problem, employees are empowered to do what it takes to find a solution fast. Because of this, Southwest can boast 47 years of consecutive profitability--a feat none of their competitors can claim.
The Relationship Between Marketing and Culture
Sometimes a company’s culture manifests in the marketing message. Marketing looks for competitive advantages and messaging that resonates. Eventually, the tagline transcends marketing speak and becomes part of the fabric of the company. It can be powerful and long-lasting for decades. You’ve probably heard these before:
Publix: Where shopping is a pleasure
BMW: The ultimate driving machine
McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it
More than a message, these taglines are a promise to the customer. Of course, it’s up to the employees to make good and execute that brand promise. To do anything less is damaging to the company’s reputation.
But it’s not just about employee interaction.
Intelligent marketing and operational systems should be set up to do things like anticipating customer behavior, offer suggesting sales, and even give the customer a voice to express satisfaction.
A common mistake we see brands make is the mismanagement of social media. Customers choose which channel they want to communicate with so the company must monitor all of them. If something is missed, and not acted upon, it can turn small problems into big ones.
“In today's world, our technology has as much to do with building relationships as your people do.” – Branden O’Neil
O’Neil encourages clients to adopt the Atlas Rose Operating System known as AROS. This tool not only keeps track of customer information like a CRM would, but it also personalizes the customer experience by tracking what’s important to the client. Automation can be set up to push only relevant messages that further the relationship. .
Of course, we don’t stop with AROS. To create a strong culture-- one that’s lasting and pervasive--Atlas Rose created a proprietary marketing formula proven to do just that.
First, it involves understanding who the ideal customer. Known as buyer personas, it goes much deeper than a superficial understanding. Atlas Rose’s techniques uncover motivations, psychological drivers, and tendencies.
Other exercises include brand standards, which defines critical information like uncovering powerful differentiators competitors can’t match, what customers value most about the company, and the impact an organization can make.
“Helping companies find their voice through these exercises either compliments or conflicts with company culture. Both outcomes are welcome and come with action items. This is what building a great organization that stands the test of time is all about,” says O’Neil.
We can be sure of one thing: businesses must be deliberate about company culture now more than ever. We can’t wish our way toward an organically evolved, thriving business. We should work together and on purpose--leadership, employees, and technology all play a role.