Have you ever thought about what distinguishes a successful, dynamically developing company from hundreds of small outlets, where sales remain at a low level for years? Every successful organization has a corporate standard. It is he who provides the company with a positive image in the eyes of partners.
Does any organization need a set of rules?
There is an opinion among novice businessmen that corporate standards systems are suitable only for large companies, whose managers find it difficult to keep track of the actions of employees. It is believed that it is too early for the team of a new, newly created firm to establish rules of conduct. Why?
- It is still unclear how to attract potential customers and what actions will lead to increased sales.
- The staff of a small outlet is always in sight: mistakes can be corrected in the process.
- The corporate standard is usually developed by training companies, and their services are expensive.
- Candidates for sales positions may be deterred by a system of strict rules on smallenterprise. After all, the salary at the initial stage is small.
Does this mean that a new firm is better off without corporate standards? The answer to this question in each individual case can be both positive and negative. Of course, it is difficult to set rigid rules for employees when the staff of a small firm consists entirely of family members or close acquaintances. But it happens that the level of customer service directly depends on whether a small business survives at all.
For the owner of a small shop, cafe, beauty salon, it is best to stick to the golden mean: strict standards are not set, but there are a number of requirements that must be observed.
What can be said about large and medium-sized enterprises that have already occupied a niche in the market? It would seem that they live easier. Such firms sell high-quality goods that are in demand. They have established advertising, and there are effective ways to attract customers. Does a business that is already successful need a corporate standard? Let's look into this matter.
It is not isolated cases when a potential client comes or calls a company known to him in order to make a purchase. Can the deal fail? Yes, if the buyer is not served properly. An untidy office, a busy phone, low-skilled salespeople, difficulties in making a purchase, the unwillingness of managers to meet halfway… Assuming one of these problems exists, the buyer will prefer competitors.
Besides, each employee, whether he is a sales manager or a branch manager, has his own considerations on how to serve customers: how to choose a manner of communication, how much time to allocate for a conversation, how to motivate a visitor to make a purchase.
If the company has a corporate culture standard, each employee knows exactly how he should behave in different situations. Moreover, employees of the company are interested in using the best business practices in communicating with customers. Due to this, decision-making time is reduced, unnecessary chains of approvals are removed. Customers, in turn, have a positive opinion of the company.
Thus, a company needs a corporate standard to ensure:
- high level of service;
- customer loy alty;
- brand awareness;
- increasing the credibility of the company in the market;
- facilitating the decision-making process;
- saving effort, time, money resources.
What issues does the standard cover
For successful work, it is not enough to build corporate standards relating only to direct communication with customers. Indeed, in the daily activities of the company's employees there are many other slippery moments:
- how effectively colleagues interact with each other, how often disagreements arise between them;
- is the working day effectively built;
- how things are prioritized.
Therefore, when introducing a corporate standard at an enterprise, it is important to take into account the following elements:
- appearance of employees;
- workspace organization;
- professional standards, procedures for dealing with complex and conflict situations, norms for efficient use of working time;
- rules for communicating with clients;
- social responsibility of the company and its employees;
- laws for senior management.
Let's look at each component of the corporate standard.
Appearance of managers
Many companies set rules for how front office employees, that is, managers who are directly involved in serving visitors, should look. The form of clothing, shoes, hair style, the presence or absence of accessories, makeup, jewelry is regulated.
A strict dress code has been introduced, for example, in the Megafon mobile communications company. The corporate standard requires that employees who work with clients dress in a "white top and black bottom" style. Managers should have a bright green silky scarf around their neck. Female employees are allowed to apply light natural makeup. Bijouterie and jewelry are excluded: only a wedding ring and discreet earrings can be worn. The footwear of the manager of the cellular company should be strict and closed. A badge with the name of the employee is compulsorily attached to the chest. A similar dress code is adopted in banks and large corporations.
Appearance standards are set differently for employees of restaurants, hairdressers, fitness centers, retail stores. In fashion beauty salons, administrators at the reception desk, hairdressers, manicurists, as a rule, are distinguished by elegant hair styling, tattooing, and original nail design. With their appearance, they inspire clients to take creative care of themselves. Women, noticing how stylish the employees of the salon look, are imbued with a desire to visit it more often.
In many retail stores, sales manager uniforms are chosen according to the type of merchandise on the sales floor. It looks interesting, for example, when the sellers in the toy store are dressed up in costumes of fairy-tale characters.
Corporate standards of the company regulate the interior decoration of both customer service areas and premises for official use (offices, rest rooms, restrooms).
In organizations with a large branch network, requirements for the interior of the premises are set:
- what color should the furniture be;
- how to place furnishings;
- in some cases, it is prescribed (especially if we are talking about IT companies), which brands of office equipment and stationery are allowed to use.
The corporate standard also dictates the permissible arrangement of objects on the surface of the desktop: how to put the computer, where to put the writing utensils, how many documents can simultaneously lie "onmind.”
Depending on the goals and objectives of the various categories of employees for each position is determined:
- what type of tasks should the firm's employees give the highest priority;
- how to plan a working day;
- what principles to guide in daily activities.
Norms of internal corporate etiquette and procedures in conflict situations are also being standardized. It is mandatory to stipulate how often an employee can take breaks from work, whether he can go outside the office at the same time, how long lunch time lasts, whether smoking is allowed during the day.
Rules of communication with clients
This area is given the most attention in many firms. The corporate standard defines:
- who from the employees of the company is involved in the process of customer service;
- what rules should be followed when meeting with buyers in the company's office and "in the fields";
- how to make outgoing and receive incoming phone calls: after which signal to pick up the phone, what words, expressions, phrases to use in a conversation.
Social responsibility of the company and its employees
Corporate responsibility standards are also of great importance. Entering the market, the company accepts the working conditions dictated by the society:
- sells quality products useful to consumers;
- works on principleshonesty, legality, humanism, respect for the dignity of people;
- takes part in protecting the environment from harmful influences.
Each employee must have a clear understanding that he is the face of the company in which he works. His actions have an impact not only on the financial results in the balance sheet, but also on the business reputation of the company. Therefore, the rules of conduct of employees are established taking into account the standards of corporate responsibility.
Rules for top officials
For large organizations, corporate governance standards are of particular importance, indicating how the firm should be managed. When developing these rules, the interests of shareholders, customers, partners of the company and its employees must be taken into account. Corporate governance standards indicate what principles the general director of the company and his deputies must be guided by in their activities. They include a description of the organizational model of the enterprise, the system of internal reporting, ways to control the activities of top management. Of the international corporate governance standards, the most well-known systems are PMBOK, ICB and ISO.
Stages of introducing new orders
In large organizations, rules are developed and implemented by professional training companies. However, many owners of small firms, using open sources of information, themselves quite successfully think over a customer service system and launch it inaction.
Professional development of corporate standards includes the following steps:
- Analysis of the current situation. It is important to assess from the point of view of an outside observer how efficient the workflow is, what can be improved. Professional companies often involve "mystery shoppers" for this purpose. A specially hired and trained employee comes to the office or trading floor of the company and plays the role of a client. As a rule, he secretly records negotiations with sellers on a dictaphone, and at the end of the meeting he fills out a checklist: what he liked about the service and what he didn’t. The owner of a small business can conduct the observation himself or ask acquaintances to "inspect" the enterprise. Based on the results of the audit, it is important to identify the positive aspects and disadvantages: what attracts customers to your company, and what makes them doubt and leave without making a deal.
- Developing standards. The corporate rules of behavior of employees, organization of the workspace, requirements for the appearance of front office managers are prescribed step by step. At this stage, it is important to take into account all the significant details that affect the future prosperity of the company or its failure.
- Employee training. The corporate standard is being implemented and put into action. Employees of the firm, especially account managers, are explained the rules to follow.
- Checking the result. It is important to analyze the effect of the implementation of standards: do they havepositive impact on sales volume, depth of customer relationships, whether lead to higher profits.
- Adjustment of standards. In the process of work, many shortcomings and rough edges of the new enterprise management system can be identified. They should be monitored regularly, especially in the initial stages. This is helped by repeated visits of "mystery shoppers", as well as receiving feedback from customers and employees. If deficiencies are identified, work is being done to correct the errors - making changes to the existing standards.
It is important to note that too zealous, verbatim adherence to company rules by employees in some situations can do harm. Compliance with established standards should not lead to unnatural, illogical, from the point of view of common sense, behavior of employees, their inattention to the needs of customers. When implementing a corporate standard, you should proceed carefully, observing the principle of gradualness.