How engaged and inspired people drive customer value – and why your mission and values are critical.

 

In a time of increased competition, and with greater pressure on the bottom line – how do you drive increased customer value and profitability through your business?  You have spent time and effort developing your business strategy – as a senior leader you have a clear idea of how to drive your business forward.  But your people don’t seem to all be pushing in the same direction.

The disconnect that can occur between business strategy and business delivery is well documented.  A 2016 survey by Salesforce found that 86% of employees did not understand the strategy of the company they worked for.  This means that your people may well be working hard – but is that effort well directed?  Are they all driving to the same goal?

In 1994 a team of leadership and engagement experts came up with a theory called the ‘Service-Profit Chain’, which is as relevant 25 years later as it was then.  Through research and insight, they connected the dots between profitability, customer loyalty, employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity.  They identified that value in a business was created by satisfied and productive employees – who were motivated to deliver excellent customer service, which in turn developed customer loyalty and therefore profit.  And there’s reams of other research that indicates that engaged people correlate directly with increased business profit.

So how do you make that connection between your ultimate business purpose and your people, driving value throughout your business?  And how can you tell if your people are engaged with your business strategy?

Engaged people want to come to work, they understand their jobs, and they know how their work contributes to the success of the organisation.  It sounds so very simple, but a lot of people just don’t have the basics right.  Engagement is not about ping pong tables, subsidised canteens and a slide in the office – it’s about having a clarity of purpose.

A truly successful business requires an inspirational and authentic mission as well as liveable values that support and drive the employees and the business.  Your company mission is your starting point– does it give your employees something meaningful to work towards, whilst at that same time appealing to your customers?  This is why you do what you do – the reason to believe – and the basis of your strategy

Once you’ve clearly outlined your mission, the ‘how’ should then manifest in the company values –  these should encapsulate the way in which you want people to behave in achieving the mission.  They should be unique to the organisation – genuine behaviours that people can recognise and understand – and not just meaningless soundbites.

But it shouldn’t just stop there.  Just giving people words is not going to help them live those values –  there needs to be an investment of time and effort in making that mission and values real for people.  You need to be clear and most importantly, consistent.

It’s about the language you use internally, and the way people act, not just with each other, but also with customers.  And this isn’t easy – the senior leadership team need to be completely bought in to the process, and they need to live and act those values.  Your people and business need to enact those values through everything that you do – the language that you use with customers and each other, the way you draft your written communications and the way you operate; the way you do business.

Values are probably the hardest element to design, get right and embed. Done well, when the whole business is joined up, values can transform your organisation. It’s like a scene from the Pixar classic ‘Finding Nemo’ when Dory gets trapped in a fishing net with a school of tuna.  Without a clear vision of what they need to achieve, the tuna are directionless and unable to save themselves.  Once they are given a ‘mission’ to achieve – saving themselves – they can all pull in the same direction and achieve success – freedom from the net!

While this may be a simplistic description, the concept is the same.  When people have a clear mission that they can get behind, values that they know how to articulate, and sense of contributing to the success of the organisation, then they will create better customer loyalty, and with that, drive value and profitability.  Companies who get this right have a clear buzz about them – with employees who are happy, have a clear sense of purpose and who can deliver excellent customer service for their customers.

For more information on how you can develop your mission and values to drive and grow your business email [email protected]