How a Company’s Culture Influences a Customer’s Experience

 In Customers

For many weeks now, I’ve been addressing the various ways you can influence, improve and rectify the customer experience your company provides. These ideas and strategies have ranged from your employees’ perspectives to your customers’ expectations to your leadership approach to the role of innovation. Today, I am addressing something fairly simple that’s often ignored: your company’s culture.

First, let me shed light on what your culture encompasses. To really generalize, I could say your culture includes everything from the layout of your facility to the structure of meetings to the way your CEO manages the media to the goals guiding company decisions. Now, one disclaimer: this article could really overwhelm some leaders, making them feel as though they’ll never get it right and always have ground to cover. My response to those that fall within that category: my goal is help you think about the things you don’t yet notice, so that by paying attention to the details, you make strides toward success in many ways by taking advantage of the many opportunities you have at your disposal. My goal is not to flood you with feelings of inadequacy, strain or unhelpful pressure.

For companies that come face-to-face with customers (i.e., retailers, car dealerships, airline industries, etc.) – it’s easier to see how their cultures influence their customers. A customer walks through a door, interacts with employees, feels the energy, receives direct service, handles tangible products and leaves feeling better or worse. The temperature in the plane is part of the culture – the size of each store is part of the culture – the cleanliness of the restrooms is part of the culture – employees’ attire is part of the culture – the delivery trucks are part of the culture. Do you get my drift?

Now, you might understand all that but still wonder why a company’s culture matters if customers don’t first-handedly experience your company (i.e., online businesses, internet services, etc.)? My answer is the same: because culture influences everything.

For example, let’s look at Facebook. Facebook users do not enter a building, touch a product, interact face-to-face with Facebook employees, see the company’s systems and structures, or engage face-to-face with other Facebook users…so in this case, why do many details that create a company’s culture matter? Because, no matter how hard we try, customers indirectly experience your culture, even if they can’t directly see it, feel it, touch it or engage with it. If Facebook mandated a Monday morning meeting that every employee dreaded, it would set the tone to what they create, how they’re inspired and why they are (or aren’t) productive, effective or successful in their Monday efforts.

The devil is in the details – most of these matters seem irrelevant, but the companies that make the most of these matters, make the most of their opportunities, and make the most of their bottom-line potential.

In the same way you don’t think about the temperature on your 5-hour flight…until you’re shivering or sweating – customers don’t think about the details until you fail to think about the details.

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