By Engr. Carlos Cornejo
If you want to have a great company culture, the book of the late Tony Hsieh (pronounced as Shay) “Delivering Happiness” is a good source of tips on how to achieve it. Tony is the founder of the famous on-line shoe store in the U.S. named Zappos that is tremendously successful not for affordable shoes, or for the most innovative products but for outstanding customer service. His simple formula is: great culture leads to happy employees, happy employees deliver great customer service, great customer service produces happy loyal customers, and happy loyal customers equals more sales. So, it boils down to a great culture so that your employees are happy and so are your customers.
To have a great company culture, Tony points out three factors: hire and fire employees based on company values, create a culture of open communication and on-board everyone on customer service. Salary is not mentioned here because employees at Zappos are happy enough with what they financially receive since the company have billions in sales every year.
First, company values. Many companies write down their mission and vision along with their company values but don’t really implement those values seriously. Zappos takes their values to heart by hiring and firing employees based on values. One of Zappos company values for example is to practice humility. If a job applicant brags too much of his or her accomplishment during an interview and does not seem to embody this virtue he or she does not get admitted. Applicants have to show some signs embodying the company values from the outset. Likewise, the goal of Zappos is to make its employees adopt values as second nature to them so that there will be strong unity in delivering service to customers. If companies don’t screen well their applicants based on their predisposition to adapting the company culture those employees will soon resign because they will feel out of place. Companies would then have wasted their time hiring that employee.
Second, create a culture of open communication. Employees should feel free to voice out their opinions about the company whether it’s pointing out the good or the bad side of it. In Zappos, every year employees come up with a culture book containing answers to the question “What is Zappos culture to you? If a submission was negative, like a complaint that the company was not giving them opportunities to learn and grow (violating Zappos’s fifth core value) management will try to address that issue so that it will not come out anymore in next year’s culture book. In other words, Zappos tries to improve its culture based on the company’s values through employees’ feedback every year.
Third, onboard everyone with customer service. In Zappos, everyone undergoes the same training on customer service that call center agents go through. Whether you are an accountant, a lawyer for the company, a software developer you are put on the phone for two weeks taking calls from customers. The idea is for everyone to experience and feel what customer service is so that even when employees are not directly interacting with customers, they know that their job has a higher purpose and joint mission: create happy customers. When everyone in the company is always thinking of customer service then customer service will eventually be delivered well. Thus, it comes down to how good your company culture is. As Tony Hsieh would say, “For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”