If you’re like most companies, you have set one or more core values around your customers, such as being customer centric. And if you’re like most companies, you’re either entirely or partially a remote organization. So how do you instill and nurture your company’s core values when you aren’t there to see your core values lived out in daily work?
It’s one of the new challenges that organizations are facing as remote work becomes the new normal. It’s also a priority that needs your leadership’s attention. If your leaders don’t purposefully cultivate your customer-centric values in a remote work environment, they’re likely to fall by the wayside.
How can a remote company maintain its core values around customers? Here are a few best practices to consider implementing.
Core values should be so ingrained into your culture that you can’t forget them, even if you’re working remotely. If being customer centric is a core value, it should be a frequent part of communications at all levels — emails, staff meetings, and one-on-one check-ins. Continually remind your people of the core value, and why it matters.
Onboarding and Continuing Education
Your customer-centric core value shouldn’t just be something that comes up during the interview process. It should be an integral part of new employee orientation and continuing education.
IDI’s employee handbook has a section dedicated to our core values, with a description of each one. Core values need to be defined and discussed, especially for new hires. Being customer centric can mean different things to different people, so it’s important to elaborate on it. Make it crystal clear what being customer centric means in your company.
Also provide opportunities for long-time employees to grow in your core values. IDI Academy has sections that dig into our core values so that employees can learn how to exemplify our core values more effectively.
At IDI, employee training includes role playing. For example, to help an account manager become more comfortable with a post-implementation interview with a client, we do mock interviews so the account manager can practice different response scenarios in a low-risk environment. This kind of exercise helps employees learn strategies around what it looks like to live out your core values in real-life scenarios.
You might also consider hosting a lunch and learn series that focuses on each of your core values.
Related reading: Your Remote Employees Need a Healthy Office Culture Too!
When you’re in a remote working environment, you can’t see or hear your people’s interactions with customers firsthand. Are employees living out your customer centric core values? How do you know if they aren’t?
Your CRM can be a tremendously valuable tool to monitor and cultivate this core value. At IDI, any manager can see what communications to our customers looks like. This enables an account manager to look into the CRM, see a support ticket, and see how the support representative is communicating. The manager knows what was said, how it was said, response time, and more.
Managers can also use communications in the CRM as teaching moments with their teams, to help prevent bad habits.
Build your core values into meeting agendas at every level — from departments, to the leadership team, to company-wide meetings.
IDI’s leadership team has a daily huddle every morning. Among other things, we discuss account escalations and work cross-departmentally to resolve customer issues. On a quarterly basis, the marketing department shares a Voice of the Customer report that highlights positive things that customers said, survey results, trends, and process changes that improved customer service.
Also use meetings to publicly recognize employees who display exceptional customer-centric service.
Employee reviews are particularly important in a remote work setup, because you can’t give impromptu feedback when you stop by your employees’ desks or see them in the break room.
At IDI, core values are part of our supervisors’ quarterly conversations with employees, as well as annual reviews. During annual reviews, supervisors ask for examples of being customer centric as well as goals for improvement.
Core values need to drive decision making at every level. Not only does this keep your company’s goals and direction aligned with your core values, it also helps to keep conflict healthy. When you ask how a decision aligns with being customer centric, it takes personal agendas off the table and keeps the issue anchored in common ground and shared values.
You’re much more likely to come to a decision together that’s best for your customers, and for the company.
Core Values Are Your Foundation
Your company core values aren’t aspirational — they don’t describe what you want to become. They’re a statement of who you are already. When a seismic shift occurs within your organization, such as suddenly becoming a remote workplace, it’s critical to reinforce your core values in a purposeful way.
This provides a solid foundation for your employees in the midst of change, and a Northstar for your company in the new normal.