Elite AgentProductivity & Best Practice

Lessons from La La Land

Our brands are no longer based on the stories we tell people, or the image that we’ve painted on the outside of our offices. In this world of instant information, our brand is now our corporate culture. Alison McGavin explains.

2017 was a big year and one that confirmed that there is nothing more certain than death and taxes… and change. And change has well and truly arrived.

Bear with me while I skirt around a few big-ticket items in order to set the scene.

Hollywood. I’m sure 100 per cent of us can say that our opinions of Hollywood as a business have drastically changed over the past 12 months. Why? Because it’s no longer the world of glitz and glamour that it has been painted to be. We’ve had real insight into what goes on, what stories are told, and what complaints have been laid.

One of the biggest changes that directly affects us and how we now need to operate is the fact that, these days, our business is a glass box; whatever happens inside, the world can see. And there is an ever-present public expectation that they deserve to know what’s happening on the inside.

In a survey of over 10,000 consumers from around the world, 78 per cent said it is “somewhat or very important for a company to be transparent”. And 70 per cent said that “these days I make it a point to know more about the companies I buy from” (Havas, February 2016).

In addition to those stats, Cone Communications conducted a study in which 70 per cent of millennials stated they’re willing to spend more with brands that support causes close to their hearts.

We know now that, because contemporary internal culture is customer-facing, this must form an integral part of your brand. Think: Hollywood (#metoo), Google (we all want to work there, right? Why? Because of the amazing office space). Think: Uber (rising sexism claims), TOMS (buy one, give one shoe brand) and Chobani (paid parental leave for all employees). The good, the bad and the ugly – it all counts and it’s right out there for all to see.

Culture is both your biggest marketing tool and the most powerful brand liability.

Complaints or attacks on company culture are bound to happen; it’s not this that will ruin culture, but rather the way that these complaints are dealt with. Make sure that your response is so good that, even when consumers see damaging or unpleasant aspects of your culture, they will stand by you.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, characteristics of a good internal complaints process are:

  1. Fair – both sides get to tell their story and are given the same air-time. The person investigating needs to remain impartial.
  2. Confidential – need-to-know basis.
  3. Transparent – outline the complaints process to all parties involved and let them know what they can expect. Keep all parties up to date and involved.
  4. Accessible – all parties should be able to access the information and understand the information. Different language will be required for different recipients.
  5. Efficient – resolve complaints quickly. Do not procrastinate. Any unresolved complaints will leave a negative and ongoing impact on your workplace.

Take some time to review your internal policies and processes. Does the real-life scenario match the picture you’re painting, and what will you do if you receive a complaint?

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