Customer Conversation Challenge 4: Culture

customer-conversation-cultureDoes your company’s culture enable a great customer conversation?

“Culture” can seem like such a big, squishy concept that it’s (1) nearly impossible to define, (2) difficult to connect to daily behaviors, and (3) an imposed force which can’t be changed. My experience is that none of these are necessarily true.

I like the pithy definition of culture from Alan Weiss: “that set of beliefs which governs behavior.” That means culture is something that can indeed be changed, and not just by the founder or CEO. Essentially, if managers or teams can change some pieces of the belief system then the culture will change over time as well.

There are lots of examples. Many companies have been able to move their belief systems beyond the misguided notion that customer conversations “aren’t for everyone.” They have taken note of recent research showing that extroverts are no better at sales than are the rest of us—in fact, they are typically worse (http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article/91014/actually-you-are-cut-out-for-sales-jim-karrh-on-marketing). These organizations have reset expectations and accountability for their customer interactions, across every contact point and all team members.
I believe a healthy culture around a customer conversation is fed by…

  • Clear direction and accountability. Yes, customer satisfaction and loyalty are on everyone’s plate.
  • The opportunity to share successes and build confidence. There should be common and easily accessible resources (customer research, conversational playbooks), regular interactions, and opportunities to train as intact teams.
  • Freedom to innovate, fail, and improve. People can practice without anxiety of looking foolish, get help with their customer conversation as needed, and build their conversational credentials.

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