Creating A Company Culture That Attracts Clients
And Keeps Them Coming Back
By: Karen Pattock
What is company culture and how do you create it? That’s a question I was asked during the past week on my Facebook page. It’s a great question and one that every business owner should reflect upon and include in their overall business plan.
Over the past 20 years I have had the great pleasure of owning several businesses in different industries. It has taught me a lot about the nitty-gritty of company culture. While I will spare you the gory details of the many bad examples I’ve witnessed there are a few really phenomenal global examples that will clarify what culture is and how to create it for your company.
There isn’t a better example than Apple, Inc. of the role company culture plays in an overall business plan as well as the impact it can have on the bottom line. As hard as it is to believe, I just became an Apple groupie last year. I feel like I am the last person getting on a train that has been traveling the globe for years. Prior to that I was loyal to another company but when it was time for me to purchase a new laptop last April my husband convinced me Apple was the way to go.
I have to be honest, I resisted…. BIG TIME! I knew there would be a learning curve and frankly I didn’t want to take anything else on in my daily schedule. However, after several visits to our local Apple store I became more intrigued and finally made the decision to purchase. Now, I’m a die-hard Apple fan and will never own anything else. Yes, the products are amazing, (I now own five – my laptop, a 27″ Thunderbolt display, iPhone, iPod and the latest addition, an iPad, which was a Christmas present from my husband), but even more than the product performance I am addicted to the company culture.
When I walk into any Apple store I’m ALWAYS greeted immediately with a smile and asked how they can help me. It makes no difference whether my visit was scheduled or impromptu, I get the same amazing service each and every time. When I leave the store I’m always left with the feeling that I was the most special customer in the room.
“It is the culture that ensures that Apple customers enjoy the experience that they have come to expect whenever they interact with Apple.” ~Julie Moreland, Fast Company
Starbucks is another great example of a company that has taken their culture to a whole other level. How many people do you know, yourself included, that won’t start their day without a Starbucks product in their hand? Without even thinking too hard I can come up with 10 people that I know, (and the closest Starbucks is 15 miles away).
So what is it that these two companies have in common that creates a culture of such loyal customers?
At its most basic level, company culture is the feeling someone gets when they are interacting with a company and the company’s representatives. Both Apple and Starbucks are known for making their customers feel special. Special enough that they don’t want to leave when their business has been completed. Instead they want to hang around, stay awhile and linger a little longer. That’s the feeling you want your clients to have when they are interacting with you on Facebook, Twitter and even while they are browsing your website.
Let’s look at the concept of company culture from a more analytical aspect. Whether you are walking into an Apple store or your local Starbucks they both physically start with the same structure, right? It’s a physical location built out of block, steel and glass. No magic there.
Next, the brick-and-mortar locations are stocked with their specialty product. They are arranged in an appealing way so that visually the customers feel welcome and at home. The products and setup are a piece of the magic, or company culture, but there’s still more.
From there employees or associates are added to the equation. Now we’re getting somewhere. The employees are trained to retain their uniqueness and authenticity while providing service based on a specific common theme. When each employee is delivering a similar message or type of service, a pattern starts to form giving the customer a sense of what they can expect every time they visit. It’s that commonality that forms customer loyalty and will continue to nurture that growth for years to come.
Creating your company culture can begin by implementing these three tips. Once they are implemented watch how your followers begin to flock around, wanting more and more contact with you in any way they can get it.
Tip #1) Your company culture begins with YOU! It starts with you outlining your values, goals, level of commitment and defining your big picture. It’s a reflection of you and the environment you like to be in. When you are clear and specific what these things mean to you, it will be much easier to relay that information to your clients through daily communication.
Tip #2) Build relationship by truly caring for your customer. Building relationship is so easy if you are coming from a place of authenticity. As you interact with your customer base through social media, regular newsletters and products/services, you will establish a common thread that weaves its way through everything you do. When your customer is assured that you have their best interests at heart a bond will form creating customer loyalty.
Tip #3) Company culture encourages two-way conversations. Create an environment where two-way conversations are not only encouraged but also expected. Whether it’s with customers, employees, virtual assistants, graphic designers, etc. you should be encouraging a two-way conversation between them and you. If you are creating a model that starts and ends with you pushing your information and your thoughts out without ever allowing the flow of information to come back to you, it will eventually cost you their loyalty. No one wants to be made to feel like their thoughts and ideas have no value and aren’t wanted.
Your company culture is very important because it is part of the overall message you are sending to your clients. Chances are though that it is far easier to create than you ever imagined because it is just an extension of who you are at your core. Keeping your message real and authentic is the surest way to attract like-minded people to you and grow a company culture that is second-to-none.
If you found this article helpful in giving you clarity to the topic of company culture please join me on Facebook! I would love to talk to you.