In the first episode, we unpacked why values mean nothing unless they are brought to life, every day, within organisations. It’s great for providing deep context, so if you missed it, have a quick squiz.

The second episode is for the people who ‘get it’, and want to know how to make it happen.

Guidelines for creating a values-based culture in delivering on customer-promise

By no means exhaustive, but these are the key prerogatives for building a corporate culture around values that staff buy into, and make them want to commit to delivering their part in a bigger purpose. Which, in turn, results in customers having amazing experiences and becoming staunch advocates of your brand.

Hire for chemistry and cultural fit

Consider a potential candidate’s CV as the first filter in the selection process. No matter how impressive their qualifications or experience, the determining factor is the extent to which they align with corporate values, approach and culture. ‘Aptitude’ can be developed, ‘attitude’ can’t.

Conscious companies have devised various means to test cultural suitability. At Red & Yellow, our tactic – and deciding factor – is a ‘smoothie test’. After the interview process has deemed a candidate as ‘high potential’, they are invited to a session where they get asked random questions unrelated to work, by a team made up of people across all aspects of the business. And how this mix of support staff, lecturers, marketing, sales and finance respond to the candidate determines whether they are appointed or not. After all, they all have to work with the person, so why shouldn’t they have a say?

Empower your staff

Inspiring them with a purpose isn’t enough. There needs to be a committed and conscious effort to ensure they have the mandate, permission and operational tools to follow through, and actually, deliver on the promise. Using 20twenty as an example, Christo Davel – the founder and leader – understood that the first contact point with the brand, after the website, was the call centre. So he turned the conventional approach of call centre agents as menial staff whose only purpose was to deal with the drudge work on its head. They were elevated to ‘Wired Warriors’ and empowered to be our first line of defence in delivering on their brand promise. A subtle change in words, but a big change in attitude and perception.

They were smart, committed, and respected as the custodians of the customer experience. The unmeasurable value they added (to the brand promise) is best illustrated with one example. Late at night, a customer’s card wouldn’t work while he was trying to pay for petrol. He called in freaking out and desperate to get home. Did the Wired Warrior say “our systems are down”, or “this will need to get sorted out in working hours”? No, he climbed in his car, drove across town and paid for the customer’s petrol with his own money.

Trust your team

Don’t micro-manage, or question everything they do. If you have actioned points 1 and 2 above, then you need to let them do their thing. To quote Zappos once again, “customer service isn’t brain surgery. It is simply courtesy, common sense, and the desire to treat everyone — customers, partners and employees — like family”.

Keep everyone informed

Make sure that everyone knows about everything. Not talking about something might seem wise at the time, but trust me, it will backfire. Get buy-in to the next quarter’s goals upfront, share customer issues as they happen, and alert staff to changes/shifts as soon as humanly possible. Don’t allow a vacuum – where supposition trumps reality – to be created

I’m in! What now?

Share this article with your boss as a nudge in the right direction. Or start personally influencing small shifts in the right direction by getting new skills. For example, our People Management or Digital Consumer Marketing online short course covers different techniques of approach and practical skills that’ll help you start the journey.

If you’re in senior management or are the ‘boss’, then you have the power to make much bigger changes that’ll ultimately lead to increased revenue, from more loyal customers that are willing to shout your praises. Hello? That’s a win-win if we’ve ever seen one. Contact our Corporate team to explore how to get this (important) ball rolling.

More about the article author: Heléne is Head of Customer at Red & Yellow. After many, many years in agencies working on most of the major brands, and some interesting start-ups, she crossed over to academia, thinking it would be quieter. Wrong!
She is a passionate consumer advocate, a staunch critic of brands that under-deliver and absolutely loves her Bedlington Terriers.

Zappos Corporate Cultures

Values based leadership journal