You’ve most likely heard the idiom ‘put your money where your mouth is.’ In business, the sentiment behind this saying couldn’t be more accurate. When it comes to the bottom line, building a successful business hinges on your ability to attract new customers while also maintaining positive relationships with your current ones. As Darrah Brustein, Founder of Network Under 40 reiterates, your brand is your reputation.
Your actions, in addition to what others say about you, forms your reputation; and your reputation is the leverage needed to build a strong presence, both in person and online. In this post, we’ll break down some fundamental tips and best practices for building a positive reputation and staying true to your customer base.
3 Ways To Empower Your Business
As you continue to navigate the evolving needs of a modern workplace and diverse customer population, it is important to remain mindful of the individuals who help make it all happen: your employees. A business cannot begin to effectively serve its customers without empowering its own employees first. The question is, where do you start?
1. Build an inclusive workplace culture.
Fostering a culture of inclusion cultivates an environment that values diversity and promotes a strong sense of belonging, which in turn empowers employees to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities.
According to the Harvard Business Review, inclusive leaders demonstrate a combination of the following six behaviors:
- Give team members ample opportunity to speak up and be heard.
- Create a safe environment to share new ideas.
- Empower employees to make important decisions.
- Be open to taking advice and implementing feedback.
- Provide actionable feedback.
- Share credit equally for team success.
An impressive 87% of employees who report working with a team leader who consistently displays at least three of these inclusive behaviors feel a sense of belonging and inclusion in their workplace, which leads to a higher level of job satisfaction across the company.
To develop an inclusive workplace, here are a few fundamental tips to get started:
- Implement a top-down approach. Promoting an inclusive and diverse workplace cannot succeed without a clear vision from leadership personnel. Once this is established, you are much more likely to achieve buy-in across the company, making your initiatives that much more successful. Furthermore, employees need to witness their leaders follow through on these goals, model appropriate practices, engage in meaningful conversations, reinforce expectations, and outline the actionable steps required to foster a healthy, inclusive, and diverse workplace.
- Incorporate inclusive hiring practices. This is a great time to reevaluate your company’s recruitment strategies and identify any areas that can be improved. When determining who will sit on the interview panel, take into consideration how you can best represent your departments and company as a whole.
- Purposefully provide safe spaces for all employees. As you develop a more inclusive workplace, your employees will represent a variety of thoughts, backgrounds, skill sets, and perspectives. Keep in mind, establishing safe spaces is a team effort. Elicit feedback from your staff on what their interests and needs are when it comes to incorporating these safe spaces. Initiating conversation around this topic will provide your staff an opportunity to share their experiences, or lack thereof, as well as provide you with further insight on the current strengths and weaknesses of your work culture from their perspective. Safe spaces can be physical spaces, such as providing unisex bathrooms, open communal spaces encouraging people to come together, or hosting office events to promote comradery. However, safe spaces can also extend to support groups, common interest groups, or even mental health resources.
- Make personal connections. Actions speak louder than words. Building a more inclusive work environment requires so much more than just discussing its importance, it requires action. One of the best ways to implement this action is by getting to know your staff on a deeper level and becoming each other's accountability partners. Take time to get to know your employees, use inclusive language and preferred pronouns, and share information about your own life experiences in return. As these more meaningful connections become the norm, your staff will feel a stronger sense of belonging.
- Be open to feedback. Just as employees receive feedback from leadership personnel, the reverse should also be in place. A successful company cannot reach new heights without engaging in reflection, taking constructive criticism, and taking steps to improve areas of weakness. Offering multiple options and opportunities for constructive feedback is essential in building an inclusive culture where employees feel seen and heard.
2. Empower your employees with the latest technology and tools.
Chi Tran, CMO of Autonomous, stresses the importance of empowering employees with the latest technology and tools to ensure two important things; productivity and job satisfaction. Just as we would not expect to walk into a doctors office with antiquated equipment, employers should not expect their employees to perform with outdated technology. Without the appropriate tools needed to compete in a modern global marketplace, employees' sense of efficacy will diminish, negatively impacting their performance, as well as the performance of the company overall.
Just as you want to empower your employees with the best technology and tools to reach peak performance, you should also consider the importance of organizational change and how digital transformation significantly impacts customer experience (CX). The way customers interact with your company is highly dependent on how successfully they can communicate with you, your employees, and your brand overall.
3. Invest in digital solutions to help you stay ahead of the curve.
There is no question about it - ensuring your company has the best technology available to provide quality customer service is an investment. It is important that businesses familiarize themselves with the best steps to take when enhancing their existing technology infrastructure. According to Veritis, this can be achieved in six simple steps:
- Put the customer first.
- Implement a simple architecture.
- Build for flexibility and speed.
- Keep service as the main focus.
- Choose agile and user-focused benefits.
- Select resources that are change-driven.
By building an inclusive workplace culture, empowering your employees with the latest technology and tools, and investing in digital solutions, your business will be better positioned to deliver quality service to your customers.
Creating Meaningful Customer Experiences
Now that you have further insight on how to create a more inclusive workplace culture and have acquired strategies to effectively empower your employees to succeed, you can now turn your attention to creating meaningful customer experiences through customer centricity.
Embracing a customer-centric model involves putting the customer at the center of your business. While this may sound endearing and even, dare we say it - simple, being a customer-centric company requires more than good intentions or positive words of affirmation; it requires developing a culture of empowerment, communication, and understanding.
With your customers at the heart of your business, you are promising to not only deliver quality service and products, you are promising to take the time to understand who they are as a consumer, anticipate their wants and needs, and create meaningful experiences that will lead to a valuable, long-term relationship.
We all know that when a customer isn’t happy, they won’t stick around for long. Instead, they will leave and seek out another company, one of your competitors most likely, who will satisfy their needs better. By creating buy-in, building a positive culture focused on the customer rather than the product, improving your data, eliciting valuable customer feedback, and thinking long-term, your company is more trustworthy, personalized, and reliable in the eye of your customers.
The Value Of Transparency And Accountability
Transparency plays a direct role in the culture and morale within your company. It is a crucial part of creating a responsive work environment. Without it, employees struggle to feel a sense of belonging and customers fail to make a deeper connection with the mission and values of the company. Lack of transparency further creates a breakdown in communication and prevents both employees and customers from investing in the company long-term.
As you venture forward on your journey to prioritize the needs of your customers and maintain a positive reputation, remember that taking accountability of your successes and challenges allows customers to know where they stand within your company. Your proactive choice to take ownership of your business will not only promote transparency, it will encourage further employee engagement and foster a high-performance work culture.