The core values of your business are the wellspring of every employee action and every customer experience. Not the core values you think you have, but the core values you actually hold. Your customers know what your core values are, even if you don’t. They see them. They experience them. And they tell their friends about them. And if your customers believe in your core values, they will believe in you.
My family and I visited Norfolk, Virginia, a few years ago. We stopped in a Subway Sandwich shop for lunch. After paying for my meal and sitting down, I noticed that we were overcharged. We didn’t get the specials discount advertised in the window. When I explained to the cashier, the store manager appeared and said, “You don’t get the specials price because you didn’t tell me you wanted the specials price. Too late.”
Those were his exact words, and he refused to budge despite my pleas for him to honor his own advertising.
I love Subway, and my experiences there are normally great. In this case, however, the core values of this manager at this Subway were plain…
- I want money.
- I do not believe in truth-in-advertising.
- I do not care about my customer’s experience.
Customer experiences are the direct result of a business’s core values. And customers will, like I did, easily spot those core values. Many company’s have the values of this rogue Subway manager, and sometimes they get away with it for a short season. But the seasons are shorter in this new era.
Let’s walk through a positive experience. My wife pointed out to me that our washing machine wasn’t draining properly. I am all thumbs with all things mechanical, and I dreaded the time and expense of calling a repair service. So I hopped onto Google and entered “Whirlpool Duet Drain.” The first hit was a YouTube video from Murf’s Appliance Repair in Boise, Idaho. The video was quick, to-the-point, and, most importantly, produced so that I could easily understand it and do the job myself in about 15 minutes. After removing coins, debris, and gook from the drain filter according to the video, our washer was like new.
What does this tell me about Murf’s core values? I think I can safely assume the following based on the video alone…
- Murf is not all about money.
The video by its very nature could reduce the number of clients calling in for on-site service. In addition, when I told his receptionist that I wanted to send in $25 for saving me so much time and money, she said, “He’ll call you back just to talk to you but I doubt he’ll accept your money.” He did call. And he did try hard to refuse the money. But he can’t stop me.
- Murf’s advertising is in line with reality.
On his home page he states “Murf’s… is your solution for immediate professional help if you are experiencing problems with your major appliances.” This was my exact experience from thousands of miles away without ever meeting or calling Murf.
- Murf believes in putting in the effort to create great customer experiences.
The video was short, sweet, and to the point. But still took time, effort, and production to create.
Your core values show, even if you don’t think they do. They are an open secret. And your prospects and clients will respond to you based on your core values. People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
Every single person on the planet knows what they do.
Some know how they do it.
Very few people or organizations know why they do what they do.
People don’t buy what you do – they buy what you believe.
Here are some takeaways…
Adapt the Right Core Values
- Be about the customer and not the money. The customer experience must come first. The money comes because the customer values the experience that you prioritized over and above your own needs.
- Be transparent. Let people see who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
- Have integrity. Own your mistakes and compensate the customer for them. Give away what can be given away, like Murf did and like the Subway manager didn’t. Be honest in your advertising. Be honest in everything you do.
- Do what you say. Don’t bait with promises and hook with disappointment.
- Do what you do well. Don’t cut corners. Hire experts. Pay them fairly.
- Love what you do.
- Be social.
- Be innovative.
- Have a strong follow-through.
- Remember that simplicity always out-performs complexity.
Comunicate the Core Values
You can’t expect your workforce to understand, adapt, and live your core values if you don’t communicate them. Here are just a few ideas…
- HR can communicate them when hiring, on-boarding, and evaluating.
- The board should share them regularly in all of its communications to the staff.
- Company newsletters, videos, and meetings should feature success stories of how core values led to customer acquisition and retention. Keep these customer testimonials close to heart.
- Blogs and social media channels could feature behind-the-scenes people and processes living out core values.
- Post the core values in an easy-to-digest format in physical and digital employee touch points (the mail room, break room, intranet home page, etc.)
- Demonstrate the core values in everything you do, communicating the core values through action.
Align Internal Processes and Customer Touch Points with Core Values
Every process should be aligned under one or more core values. It’s not really a core value if it doesn’t drive what you do.
- Accounts Payable should issue payments on time and accurately as part of the core value of integrity.
- Customer Service departments should assess customer experiences in measurable terms and communicate weaknesses to management so they can improve.
- Software development projects must understand the core values driving a project and should build them with that core value in mind.
- Marketing channels should be designed for transparency, integrity, and positive customer experience.
- IT Departments should transform themselves from siloed and sluggish cost centers to innovative and collaborative champions of customer experience.
The core values of a company are like the heart of an individual. We do what we do for interior, unseen motives. Our actions then reveal the sentiment behind those motives. They reveal our values. Shared values beget long-term relationships. Values that are not shared, regardless of the product or service, break relationships.
Your core values are showing. If something isn’t working, maybe its time to reevaluate from the core outward.