‘ H I R E’ LEA RNING
YOUR COMPANY’S DNA By Will Mason
DNA is a molecule that exists in every cell of your body. It carries an unbelievable amount of genetic information in an impossibly tiny form. In fact, scientists are currently working to harness the chemical properties of DNA for the purpose of data storage. One study found that just a few grams of DNA could potentially store an exabyte of data for 2,000 years. That’s insane. But the most amazing property of DNA is that it self-replicates. It literally recreates itself and makes exact copies around the clock. Companies have DNA too. It may not be shaped in a double helix, and it’s not something you can observe under a microscope, but it’s there, driving and influencing behavior, attitudes, assumptions, decisions and other organizational habits. And most importantly, like DNA, it also self-replicates. You may hear it called “culture,” “the vibe,” “ethos” or something else, but for our purposes, we’ll use DNA (because, you know, science and all). One of the hardest things to do in business is create and protect your company’s DNA. It’s also one of the most important. Anything that is of significance to an organization must become a part of its DNA. If it is to survive, it must become self-replicating. No matter how small your team is, changing or adding to your DNA is a big job. This is, after all, the foundation upon which your entire business is built. Imagine the work required to add to the foundation of a building when there is already so much weight resting on it. So, what’s with all the talk about DNA? I thought this column is about customer service? Well, I believe customer service is an expression of your company’s DNA — just like green eyes or brown hair are expressions of a person’s DNA. If you want your company to be known for its great customer service (and I’m guessing you do!), you’re going to have to do the hard work of ingraining it in your DNA. Before we do that, we need to define what great customer service looks like. We need to figure out the genetic code before we start replicating. As you may have already noticed, a high level of customer service is required in the new marketplace. There was a day and an age when you could get away with mediocre customer service if you had a good enough 46
product. Those days are quickly fading. Every entrepreneur who opens a new business obsesses over finding a competitive edge to make space in a crowded market for their ideas to gain traction and succeed. Increasingly, the level of service, or the “experience” of the customer, is the battleground for winning fans over to your shop instead of your competitor’s. Great customer service tends to be qualified by these characteristics: • Respectful — Does your staff treat your customers as equals? Or do they look down their noses if a customer has “dumb questions”? We’re all on a path of learning here! • Knowledgeable — Can your sales staff answer questions about the products you sell? If not, why would someone not just buy online? • Communicative — Can your sales staff communicate their knowledge effectively? These are two different skills. Spend time working on each individually. • Obser vant — Do your people know what to watch for in a customer’s behavior? Can they anticipate when someone is going to have a question based on their expressions, pattern, etc.? • Available — Do you have enough people working at peak
times so your customers aren’t getting annoyed by a long wait? • Problem Solving — Does your team have a posture of helpfulness or of enforcing policy? • Positive — Above all else, this one matters most. Staying positive, even in the heat of the moment, can dissolve tension, brighten someone’s day and make a difference for your bottom line. Plus, isn’t life just better when you are around positive people? A helpful exercise would be to rate your team on a 1 to 5 scale for each of the above attributes. Invite your team to participate and average your scores. Which ones are below a 3? Start there! Which ones are 4s and 5s? Give yourself a pat on the back! Make a list of the areas you can improve in, and tune back in to my next article, which will dive into how to effect change to your company’s DNA.
In my last article (in the Febraury issue of the Retailer), we looked at how to gather information from your customers through surveys to gain actionable insight. This is a great first step into figuring out where to apply your efforts to make improvements. The next logical step is to determine what to do with that insight. When
reviewing your survey responses, here are some questions to ask your team to get some good discussions started: What feedback did we get that was surprising? What feedback did we get that confirmed something we thought was true? What did we hear for the first time? What have we heard before? What are three things we can do differently moving forward as a result of this information? Who should do each one? An individual? A department? The whole team? By what date? These discussion questions will lead your team to some conclusions that will move you toward an even higher level of customer service. Remember listen, learn, lead from last time? This is the “lead” part. So how do you change your company’s DNA? I’m going to borrow from one of my favorite leaders here: Andy Stanley. These are his six steps to institutionalizing change (changing your DNA). Step 1: Name it. Create a name for it. Pretty self-explanatory, right? That’s why it’s step 1. This might look something like saying, “We want to improve our APRIL 2019