Thursday, May 19, 2016

Company Culture: The power of an unfriendly customer contact!

I am a great fan of Mr. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group of companies. One of the reasons could be  because we  share something in common ( My name is Virginia so I’m sure you get the drift) but  I most certainly admire the way he empowers his employees and  treats his customers.

His column in the Tuesdays’ Daily Nation newspaper is must read for every Passionate Entrepreneur. On September 24th, 2013 he was responding to a question on how to build a company’s culture based on customer service. He discussed 3 steps - finding an edge over competitors, building on your employee’s ideas and increasing profits by being nice.

One  business's culture

What caught my attention is an illustration on how his flight crew assisted a customer who got late and missed his flight and the subsequent quote on the absolutely satisfied customers’ blog____“They(crew) had gone above and beyond that day. Each and every one of them had a hand in making my experience not only successful but enjoyable --- and the best part of it, I did not once feel as if I was inconveniencing any of them”

That is Mr. Richard Branson’s three steps of building company’s culture based on customer service and the result “speaks for itself”.
And an opposite  dimension

On the same day, same paper, another contributor on Customer Care-Ms Lucy Kiruthu narrates two experiences in the hands of our very own flight (matatu) crews. In one instance passengers get their photos taken without notice or explanation! In the other, the passengers are forced to alight at the crews’ convenience! Would you have wished to read the passengers tweets or blogs regarding these incidences?

But again where does culture come from? 

The answer can be found largely in the ownership and leadership of the organization and then the community surrounding the organization. Their values and habits will infect the whole organizations’ DNA. The results will be mirrored in how the customers are treated and in the long run, the bottom line (profits) will tell it all.

Take a test

The above example exemplifies the symptoms of a positive, negative & indifferent cultures.  Let’s run a simple test on your business.

  1. Does your organization have unclear vision, values, norms -generally chaotic workplace? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  2. Do your employees feel unappreciated? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  3. Are you tired of your excellent employees leaving almost as soon as you recruit? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  4. Do you keep losing your best customers? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  5. Is your performance gauged more on bottom line (profits) than other impacts? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  6. Do you get business results fluctuating from one period to the next?       Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  7. Is your competition running you over? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  8. Are your managers simply ineffective? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )
  9. Does your customer relationships need serious shape up? Yes ( )  No( ) Don't know ( )

Do you have more “yes”? Then your organization exhibits a negative culture!

If you have more “no”, yours is a positive culture.

If you “don’t know”, RUN! Your heart is not in this business and its time to think of something else that you will love to do!

7 simple steps to changing  your culture

The good news is that culture can be changed Step by Step as under;
  1. Once again, the ownership or leadership will have to notice  and appreciate that the existing culture is not enabling excellence 
  2. You will immediately decide to do something about it.
  3. The change will  require a new vision, mission, new values, new norms  and new habits starting at the top and then enlisting (not forcing) the support  the  rest of the crew.   Get more strategies on how to accomplish this in "My Business Foundations Model Program"
  4. Keep in mind that human beings do not like change and the old culture will fight back. Involve your crew and get them to buy into the new culture for a smooth take-off.
  5. Remember as mentioned above, culture is influenced by the environment. Only recruit  the  personnel who will gel in with the desired culture and then properly deploy them.
  6. As the leader, you are to lead by example  and ensure that major stakeholders such as customers, business partners, suppliers and vendors are also exposed to the new culture.
  7. Make sure that customer service is everyone’s job not just the Customer Service Department. After all everyone needs to understand  that they get their salary and other benefits paid by Mr. or Ms. Customer!
Are you a business owner or a leader of any organization or group- including your chama? Take note of an anonymous quote that says that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Come to think about it-What will be left for lunch and dinner?

Please  leave your comments below and share with the Passionate Entrepreneurs Family ;
  • How you are setting a positive culture?
  • How are you maintaining  it? 
Whatever you are doing, make sure  it results in less work, more money and positive impact!


Virginia Mburu
Passionate Entrepreneurs Coach

Virginia empowers and motivates Passionate Entrepreneurs to realize their purpose and pursue it. She then assists the entrepreneurs to clarify, prioritise and focus on management and marketing strategies and action plans that will get them to work less, make more money and positively impact within one year.  Download some of her gifts- absolutely free lessons on

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