That may sound like a silly question at first glance since we usually associate character with people. The idea of company character makes a ton of sense once you realize that a company is it’s own entity. Any company that employs at least one person has a character and since every company employs at least its owner then I think it could safely be said that all companies have character, be it good or bad.
Before you can answer the question “What is the character of my company?” it’s probably important to identify what defines the character of a company.
Company character IS NOT defined by a mission statement, what’s on the About Us page or by what the founder/owner says it is. Company character IS defined by the content that you put out, i.e. blog posts, Twitter and Facebook updates and public forum answers. It is also, and most importantly, defined by how you treat your customers.
In order to gain a better idea of how you treat your customers answer these questions. Be honest with yourself.
How do you treat potential customers?
How do you treat your newest customer?
How do you treat your oldest customer?
How do you treat unhappy customers?
How do you treat satisfied customers?
How do you treat customers who are canceling their service?
Now… notice that I used the word “treat.” I didn’t ask “What do you do for” or “What do you think of”, I asked “How do you treat”. The word “treat” infers to me the attitude take towards, the level of respect given to or the amount of schmoozing laid upon any given customer, be it an individual or an organization. Think about how you use the word treat when describing how someone treated you. That’s how I want you to define it in this context.
Sadly the answers to these questions will probably all be different for most companies. Ideally the answers should all be pretty much the same. Your company, i.e. you and ALL of your companies representatives, should treat your potential, newest, oldest, happiest, unhappiest and previous customers with the same level of respect and charisma. It’s quite likely that if that were to occur or is occurring in your company right now the company is going to prosper because all of it’s customers will be happy and loyal customers, and those customers are the lifeblood of any company.
Probably the strongest indicator of company character will show up during the process of canceling a sale. No one wants a customer to cancel service, return an item, etc. but it’s going to happen. How will it be dealt with? Will your company representative be hostile or accommodating? Will the ex-customer walk away from the deal glad to get away from your poisonous life sucking excuse for a company? Or will the ex-customer be saddened that s/he won’t be doing business with such a happy, enjoyable, positive and uplifting group of individuals.
Zappos.com has set the bar ridiculously high for this type of customer service. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has driven this type of company character from the top down. I’ve heard him say in interviews that Zappos isn’t so much a shoe company, but a customer service company. I’m actually kind of sad that I’ve never ordered a pair of shoes from Zappos simply because I love the character that the company exudes. I want to do business with them.
Do people want to do business with your company or are they glad to get away?