It goes without saying that the culture of any organization can ultimately determine its own success or failure. We have all been to businesses where employees are openly complaining about the customers they serve, or a host of other perceived issues. First and foremost this is a culture issue and I have certainly experienced my own struggles in this area. I have taken over departments with major culture issues and after much headache and stress, I eventually realized that if I don’t fix this first, employee and customer engagement will never come. Without a strong culture and sense of community, the results would surely NEVER come!
Alongside my fellow management team, I tried many different approaches in the beginning, and the results were mixed. We tried some of your typical things, like parties and giveaways, and some more expensive endeavors like taking top preforming employees to professional sports games. All of these approaches people have been using for years, and some worked and some did not. I racked my brain trying to think of new ways to create a true sense of community, where your employees and customers both “feel the love”. Looking back on my own mistakes, I have now realized that social media is possibly the best tool in existence to make this happen and it was right in front of me all along.
The majority of my team and customers were on a variety of social media channels at the time, but I hid from them. I said things to my wife like, “I need to separate my personal life and work life”, and “I would rather not have my employees spying on me.” One word sums this up, STUPID! After all, if you are not able to be yourself in your career, why do it? I realized later that this tool is extremely powerful and if I had used it as a means to drive culture and create a sense of community, the results would have come much sooner and been more significant. After all, I would naturally be more connected with their lives and them with mine, which brings a sense of humanity to the job.
Imagine the impact of recognizing an employee’s great work via social media channels that consist of his or her family, co-workers, managers, and customers. This is infinitely more meaningful than only doing it in a meeting at 6 AM in front of 20 coworkers sucking down coffee just to stay awake. After all, they work hard for you, why wouldn’t you broadcast that to as many people as possible?
It does not take much of a leap to explain how this approach could be used in any businesses or organization as a tool for customer retention and engagement, now that Facebook has 1.15 billion users and Twitter has over 500 million. The more connected your customers and employees are with your business the healthier it will remain. Make no mistake though, if it is not genuine, people will see right through it and it will do more damage than good.
People like being a part of something, no matter if it is the employee at the bottom of the totem pole or the CEO. There are countless creative ways to use social media as a tool to drive the culture of your organization. This will lead to great things like customer retention, reduced turnover, and dare I say increased revenues!
Don’t be scared, but do go in with a real plan. Create a page for your employees, customers, vendors, or all of them, and make it a part of your routine to recognize and thank people from every one of those groups. Dive in and be transparent, I dare you! After all, what is the worst that could happen, someone find out that you like beer on the weekends too? Oh, no!!!
P.S. Your employees are probably already spying on you anyways :).