Culture Plays a Key Role in Customer Relationships

Culture is every bit as important to the success of an organization as building a strong team, increasing sales, and retaining customers.

During Friday's keynote presentation at the annual InfusionCon conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Infusionsoft CEO Clate Mask and Vice President and cofounder Scott Martineau shared how the sales and marketing software company turned a firm with zero venture capital funding and virtually no name recognition into a successful company serving more than 13,500 customers while raising $54 million in new financing.

The first step to aligning an organizational team around a culture, according to Martineau, is "leading and articulating your vision." Companies need to "be clear about their mission and articulate their purpose." But, according to Mask, cultural values should not only be set in stone. They need to be adopted and put into action across the entire enterprise.

A big challenge for companies is connecting purpose, values, and mission to day-to-day work operations, Mask said. Because companies can get caught up in the "material" manifestations of culture, such as team-building activities or free perks, it can be easy to overlook the true definition of culture—and the one that produces real results.

"If you find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day, and are continuously faced with high turnover and struggling to retain good people, it's because you haven't clarified your purpose, values, and mission," Mask said. "The more you stick to your mission, the more people you have on your bus and the less you worry about 'people' problems."

Although it's vital for companies to keep an eye on the bottom line, a sole focus on sales numbers can erase the "people" element of the equation, which has a direct tie back to the very customer or prospect that an organization is seeking to serve. According to Mask, satisfied employees create satisfied customers, which, in turn, create satisfied shareholders.

Resetting a company culture from the inside out requires a certain strategy planning methodology, and one of the fundamentals is being clear about what it is the organization wants to accomplish, Martineau said. Then, a company should hire and retain employees who not only meet, but advocate on behalf of that value or mission.

When organizational alignment is not achieved, it can have grave impact on a company. Power struggles and misaligned culture are two factors that contribute to failure of business process management (BPM) initiatives in the enterprise. Gartner has found that more than 50 percent of BPM professionals identify "internal politics" as a main obstacle in achieving company-wide acceptance of BPM initiatives.


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