Avoid The Headlines, Focus On Corporate Culture

Guest post from Researcher Nick Hayes.

Chris and I recently published a report describing how to build risk and compliance principles into your company’s corporate culture. As we worked to finalize, edit, and publish the report, a flurry of new corporate scandals emerged, all related to this topic.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Wal-Mart executives accused of trying to hush up bribery cases in Mexico (article here).
  • A whistleblower accuses Infosys of engaging in a systematic practice of visa fraud (article here).
  • A former Goldman Sachs employee writes an op-ed for the New York Times blasting the company’s ethics (article here).
  • JP Morgan suffers a $2 billion trading loss due to “poorly monitored” trades (article here).
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Nine Ways To Reward Employees To Reinforce Customer-Centric Behaviors

The only way your company will differentiate based on customer experience is if the culture of your organization aligns closely with the brand promise to customers. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh puts it in his blog post entitled “Your Culture Is Your Brand”: “Advertising can only get your brand so far . . . So what’s a company to do if you can’t just buy your way into building the brand you want? In a word: culture. At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff — like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers — will happen naturally on its own.”

When Forrester looks at building a customer-focused culture, we believe firms need some precursors in place, such as a clear strategy and vision, metrics that reflect customer perceptions, and governance mechanisms that set standards and hold people accountable for changes.

Once those are in place, rewards systems are one powerful lever to keep employees focused on what’s important. My colleague Belle Bocal and I identified nine ways that companies use reward systems to build a customer-centric culture.

Celebrate Target Behavior

Many companies make the mistake of trying to tie variable compensation (e.g., bonuses) to customer experience metrics too early. What many firms have learned is that the more informal recognition programs can be even more powerful at moving culture than the compensation metrics.

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