Published 2 years ago.
About a 4 minute read.
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Only 38% of companies self-report as being customer-committed; and therein lies the problem: The challenge isn’t having a purpose, but living that purpose. Here are 4 ways to ensure a customer-centered purpose impacts the very people it was intended to.
Inarguably, in its moment of inception, every company acts on an unfulfilled need in the marketplace. Most business visionaries find new ways to create value for customers and for the world at large, building capabilities, teams and organizations with a strong sense of purpose. But something happens as companies grow in scale and success. The conviction of their founders becomes diluted.
Over the years, a scrappy team of generalists focused as much on customer
service as corporate strategy may evolve into siloed departments of
specialists with specific remits, unable to grasp the deeper meaning of the
organization. Eventually, purpose becomes watered down to words on a website
rather than the reason employees go to work each day. Most of us know this
story well and agree corporate purpose is critical. But why? And how?
Finding an answer that’s more than abstract and idealistic isn’t so easy —
at least it wasn’t, until now.
To better understand the link between purpose-driven companies and business
outcomes, and more importantly, how companies are finding ways to thrive
through purpose, Gongos recently sponsored a
study with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. Together, we found that customer-committed companies — those with a purpose focused on the customer that is deliberately embedded throughout the organization — are more than
just better positioned to do right by their customers and society. Being
customer-committed leads to a better employee experience, higher customer
engagement, stronger brand differentiation; and ultimately, bottom-line
However, we also learned that only 38 percent of companies self-report as
being customer-committed; and therein lies the problem: The challenge
isn’t having a
but living that purpose through the actions of employees. Here are four
ways to ensure a customer-centered purpose impacts the very people it was
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Spending focused time with key leaders to develop or reengage in your
company’s authentic, customer-centric purpose is the first step necessary to
give it legs. For purpose to be internalized in the minds of every employee,
it needs to be a part of the everyday fabric of the employee experience.
Reinforce your purpose at every opportunity by creating connection points in
your decision-making, meetings, processes, and internal and external
communications. Don’t just tell, but show your employees how they are the
gateway for purpose to be felt and understood by every customer.
A deeply embedded purpose is more than a guiding light for employees. It’s
one of the ways customers find meaning in your brand. Continue to talk to
customers and listen to what they say about their needs and experiences. Use
empathy as the catalyst for how your organization strives to fulfill its
purpose. Ensure the customer is humanized in authentic ways, socializing
their perspective; and identifying new channels for communication and
immersive avenues that serve as a constant reminder of the humans that the
organization is serving.
The biggest barrier to employee engagement in
is not having enough time. This is because employees struggle to see how
their day-to-day work connects to fulfilling the promise your organization
has made to the customer. While no employee is, or should think of
themselves as, responsible for delivering on every aspect of a company’s
they should develop a view of the unique value they bring to the
organization and customer. Through both individual reflection and team
discussion, work to surface these “whys” and develop a clear understanding
of how each team lives out a customer-centered purpose. As you think about
tangible goals for yourself, your team and the organization, directly
connect the things you wish to achieve with how they will help the broader
organization achieve its goals.
What is celebrated and rewarded in your company
is one of the clearest drivers of decision making and prioritization at all
levels within the organization. Look at the formal and informal ways you
recognize employees and ensure that delivering on purpose is the driving
force behind those mechanisms. When celebrating team successes, ensure that
the narrative ties directly to the company’s purpose. These stories will
illustrate how each employee’s achievements contribute to organizational
growth and encourage others to find new ways to contribute to the company
purpose, as well.
For companies seeking to deepen both employee and customer experiences, our
research and experience show that crafting and executing on a purpose
centered on the customer has potential to pay big dividends — provided that
purpose is deeply embedded into the mindsets and actions of employees. When
aligned with the customer and backed by leadership, purpose gives your
organization the energy it needs to thrive in good times and in bad.
Published Dec 21, 2020 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET
Sam Herzing is Strategy & Implementation Lead at Gongos, Inc., based in Detroit.