Is Direct Mail Safe During COVID-19?

In fast-moving and uncertain situations, communication can be a challenge.

While you may have been temporarily stalled by the dramatic changes of the last month, now is the right time to be proactive in your customer connections. Crisis communication specialists tell us that, in hard times, communicating early and often is crucial.

The decisions you make now are essential for your business to survive today and to thrive later on.

Why Direct Mail is Still a Trustworthy Source

Reports of postal workers testing positive for the novel coronavirus may have raised some concerns that the pathogen could live on letters and packages, potentially exposing people to infection just from opening their mail or packages. But the U.S. Postal Service has assured us that the mail is still safe:

“There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the mail,” the postal service said recently, alluding to the disease caused by the virus and citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. 

Most businesses are still mailing at this time, but if you have questions about direct mail marketing, you are not alone. It’s important to be ready with answers for your customers, preferably from reliable sources like the Center for Disease Control:

“Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” says the CDC. “Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with [mail and packages] and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.”

Because the virus is not spread through the skin, but through the respiratory tracks, any contact with mail or packages is not an immediate danger. Regular hand-washing and proper hygiene are the most important factors for mitigating any risk with envelopes, packages, or really with any contaminated surfaces.

What Kind of Mail Should I Send?

Since people are currently hungry for connection, there is no better time to lean into your marketing efforts.

But be sensitive in doing this, and offer messages of hope and relief. Dartmouth professor Paul Argenti offers these tips for communicating during a crisis:

Focus on What is Important to the Customer

For example, Target sent out a note from the CEO to customers, describing enhanced cleaning procedures and additional staffing for order pickup and drive-up services.

Provide Relief When Possible

JetBlue became the first airline to waive change and cancel fees for coronavirus-related concerns. The move went a long way towards reassuring current customers as well as bringing new ones on board. Insurance companies, in contrast, do not consider the coronavirus a valid reason for canceling a flight.

Focus on Empathy Instead of Pushing Sales

Be creative, but keep empathy in mind. Companies should reshape advertising and promotion strategies to be more in line with the current mood of the day.

Watch for Those Silver Linings

While we’re all in unfamiliar territory right now, everyone wants to support each other.

Businesses care about customers, and all of us care about economic recovery. Keep reaching out to your clients and remember that this is only temporary. While this situation won’t last, many positive outcomes will!

The lessons we learn today can make us more flexible, strategic, and more community-minded.

Leading with Empathy During Uncertain Times

COVID-19 is officially a pandemic, and millions of Americans are working at home.

Even if you aren’t sick, you feel the impact of this pandemic. As the coronavirus has spread across the globe, the CDC has made drastic recommendations on social distancing, self-quarantines, and statewide “stay at home” mandates.

Through this unprecedented season, what are some of the best ways to navigate your professional challenges?

“I Feel Your Pain”

Empathy is one of the best starting points.

Defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,” empathy allows you to comprehend what another person is experiencing or to put yourself in their position.

Empathy is the ability to perceive a situation from another person’s frame of reference, and possibly to experience the emotions that go with that. Empathy is different from just “being kind” because empathy is a powerful tool that allows you to truly understand points of view that are vastly different than yours. A person leading with empathy is more aware of overworked employees, overtaxed customers, or solutions that another person may overlook.

The benefits of empathy are huge. A recent nursing study showed that nurse managers who were perceived as empathetic could boost vitality and thriving environments in their teams. Empathetic leaders can communicate better with employees and customers, build bridges of trust, and can facilitate optimal employee performance and compliance. And this brings exponential gain: organizations with engaged employees have higher productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

Empathy in leadership can manifest in many ways with regard to the coronavirus response. Here are just three:

1. Be Calm

During any crisis, people need their leaders to remain calm and to empathize with their thoughts or feelings.

While you may not share the emotions of your customers or employees, it’s ok to acknowledge feelings of anxiety or stress. When possible, share resources that promote facts, not fear (like information from the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control), in order to help people intellectually interpret the outbreak.

2. Be Flexible

With many people working from home (with kids in tow!), some employees may struggle.

Leaders should be considerate of missed deadlines, unforeseen health emergencies, and emotions bubbling near the surface. Remember, things are not “business as usual,” and special times require special considerations. Above all, flexible managers are consistently leading AND responding. Simply directing employees to available support resources can make a huge difference.

3. Be Available

Not everyone is empathetic by nature, so this is a great time to check your own heart.

Examine yourself daily and ask: Am I really listening? Am I taking in others’ points of view? Ask for feedback from people you trust or solicit comments through neutral channels. Or set up work-from-home chats where people can share tips, information, advice, or inspiration as everyone adjusts to a new normal.

Natural routines can also go a long way toward building confidence – consider morning huddles, or regular conference call “office hours” to offer an open door for people in their most vulnerable moments.

Be Positive and Proactive

Still not sure how to show grace?

Perhaps the best strategy is to change your perspective. Instead of prioritizing outcomes or objectives, use this time to focus on your own leadership. Ideally, you should be a coach, a therapist, a sounding board, and a support system to your employees. Allow people to chat candidly and comically, and make room for a few failures.

Create margin during this roller coaster, and everyone will benefit!

Responsible Marketing During COVID-19

Fear. Stress. Helplessness.

Whether you’re caring for elderly parents or homeschooling your kids, people across the globe are struggling with big emotions during the COVID-19 situation.

How do you lead well in times like these? While daily leadership is essential for your business, crisis moments reveal the quality of your vision like nothing else. And while you may be exhausted or overwhelmed, now is not the time to push pause on your leadership. What are the “next best steps” you can take in this hour of uncertainty?

1. Increase the Frequency of Communication

During hard times, the frequency of communication should go through the roof.

Even if you have bad news, it’s important to acknowledge this ASAP. While you may not have all the details, a prompt announcement can minimize speculation, reassure panicked contacts, and let people know that you are proactively addressing each challenge.

2. Be Authentic

Now, more than ever, people are craving connection.

Since many of your customers and subscribers are working from the kitchen table, this is an important chance to re-tool your communication. Get in touch with your own feeling of isolation and use this to inform your messaging. From email communication to print mailings, review all your messages through the lens of people who are stuck at home. Ditch the corporate-speak and seek a more human tone for your brand, and use this framework to empower empathy while focusing on others’ needs.

3. Break Up the Depressive Mindset

All of us need a break from 24/7 bad news. So, how can you bring positivity in this hour?

Noting the deluge of video-conferencing, Audi of America recently launched a series of specially curated images to serve as a glamorous backdrop in virtual meeting rooms. Now enthusiasts can bring their favorite Audi with them to their next conference call or virtual happy hour, and Audi plans to release new images weekly. Simple pleasures make a big difference in tough moments!

Now, make it personal. How can you sound a note of joy or generosity today? Could you post a funny video, release a helpful blog, highlight hero stories, or offer incentives that benefit customers or people on the front lines?

Or look at your own product mix and ask: “what could I change to help my customers?” Do you have a paid or premium service that you could offer for free to help people get by over the next few months?

4. Sow Seeds of Honor

When you look at your schedule today, things seem rather quiet and eerie.

Companies of all sizes have sent people home, and every distraction has been silenced. While the coronavirus has ushered in strange times for all, good leaders won’t just hunker down. Instead, it’s time to push back with a different spirit.

In an age of mocking and disdain, today is a great day to show respect and gratitude. Whether personally or professionally, use this forced pause to repair a strained relationship, to say thank you, or to serve others. Make that difficult phone call. Donate blood or serve at your local food pantry. Show public or private appreciation for your leaders. And appreciate people who don’t deserve it (despite their inadequacies).

As you honor people, they will honor others. Perhaps this is a chance to shift the atmosphere and proactively build honor into the fabric of your network. As a leader, you WILL set the pace for others.

Connection is the New Currency

Though today’s challenges are extreme, it’s important to remember they’re only temporary.

It may not be easy, but many of us will come out of this stronger. Though it may feel that the waves are continuing to rise, take heart. Prioritize connection, and the uncharted waters can be parted in order to lead you toward a prosperous future and a newfound hope. 

Add Drama and Depth with Custom White Balance

Have you ever struggled to take a classy (yet natural) family picture?

Or photographed an incredible wilderness scene, only to be sorely disappointed by flat results? If the world has so much wonder, why is capturing that majesty so tricky?

Many photos are simply too dark or too light, with awkward shadows, blinding background rays, or glaring reflections (think Grandma’s glasses!). The color can seem artificial or just washed out. But photos with proper lighting come alive, creating a drama and depth that resonates with viewers on a heart-stirring level.

Whether you adjust your camera on the front end or edit the photo later, here are some tricks to getting the photo balance just right!

Adjusting Your Digital Camera Settings

Different sources of light have varying color hues, so a picture taken with a normal white balance under artificial lighting conditions transmits low heat to the camera’s sensor, resulting in dull yellow or orange shades in the photo.

Though human eyes can automatically adjust lights and color temperatures to “sense” the right color, a camera needs to be adjusted to different lights for accurate color reproduction. By adjusting the white balance setting of your digital camera before you start shooting, you can produce the most accurate colors in your image.

Most upscale digital cameras include presets like these:

Tungsten: Best for indoor shoots under a little light bulb.

Fluorescent: Grabs brighter, warmer shots while compensating for cool fluorescent tones.

Cloudy: Warms up a subject and its surroundings when natural light is limited.

Shade: Useful for warming up the surroundings that have a cooler, bluer tone.

You can also adjust your camera manually by setting a white object as the reference point.

To manually set the white balance in your image, take a photo of something white in the same location (and under the same light) you intend to shoot. Then go to your camera’s shooting menu, choose white balance settings, and select the image you just photographed by pressing the “set” or “Ok” button. This will enable you to customize a white balance setting for your next round of photos, resulting in more neutral, natural shades and less post-production editing.

Mastering Post-Production Tints and Temps

Suppose you get the perfect photo, but the colors aren’t quite right.

Adobe Lightroom can help!

Adobe Lightroom is an inexpensive post-processing program used by designers worldwide. In the past, developing exquisite images required excellent photos, nuanced darkroom abilities, and expensive equipment. In contrast, Lightroom allows even beginners to normalize light tones they weren’t able to land in-camera.

When you’re ready to edit the balance in a photo, here are three methods:

Option 1: In Adobe Lightroom, adjust white balance with the eyedropper tool or use the preset menu that best describes the lighting conditions you shot in.

Option 2: Using the white balance drop-down list, manually drag the “temp” and “tint” sliders in the WB panel to adjust how warm or cool your image is.

Option 3: Select the “White Balance Selector” tool in the White Balance Panel (or for a shortcut, press “W” and scan across your image to locate an area that has a neutral grey color to serve as a reference point). Once you click this grey or neutral area, the appropriate white balance settings will be applied to the entire image.

If you don’t like the result, simply use the reset button to remove all adjustments.

In the Eye of the Beholder

Sound tricky?

Don’t sweat it. There is really no “perfect” white balance because the best contrast is what looks pleasing to YOUR eye. In the end, learning and experimenting is half the fun! Reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about adding the perfect white balance to your next piece.

Ideas for Paying Employees When Finances are Tight

The coronavirus has rattled the world, and while the health consequences are dire, the economic fallout could be worse.

In just one week, from March 7 to March 14, initial unemployment claims jumped by a third, rising from 211,000 to 281,000. And while we don’t know whether workers have been laid off or furloughed, we do know that lost jobs are bad for families, employers, and the nation.

Job losses translate into increased federal spending and a slower response to unemployment claims, and those businesses that have to hire or train new employees down the road will undoubtedly take a financial hit later. Even if it’s difficult, your business can benefit by keeping employees on payroll and by modifying your business plan.

What might this look like? Here are some options to consider:

Lower Overhead Expenses

The most effective response to financial pain is to freeze spending wherever possible.

This may mean holding off on new investments, eliminating projects where costs exceed value, or re-proposing previously rejected cost-savings ideas. Want a more comprehensive guide to cutting costs? Check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.

Consider Alternative Financing

While borrowing may not have previously been in your plans, the Small Business Association is working directly with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to companies that have been severely impacted by COVID-19.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program may provide the vital support you need during this temporary loss of revenue. Other options to consider are family borrowing, hard money loans, or seeking a float loan from a customer or an external “angel investor.”

Liquify Assets or Discount Existing Receivables

How can you attain missing funds to pay employees in a crunch?

“Beg, borrow, or sell whatever you need in order to come up with the funds,” says Rod Jorgensen, the director of counseling at the Nevada Small Business Development Center. Whether you sell vehicles, buildings, or equipment, put every option on the table for consideration.

Donald Todrin, founder of the Northhampton, MA-based Second Wind Consultants, says taking as much as a 50 percent hit on your outstanding receivables may also be a wise strategy:

“If I’ve got $25,000 out on the street that I’m owed, I’d slash it down to $10,000 on a promise [that vendors] wire me the money today,” Todrin said. “Pay me half [of what you owe me] and I’ll wipe [the debt] out. And you raise cash instantly and overnight. Now you pay a price for that because that’s your overhead money, but you cover your payroll. You got to play for another day.”

Be Resourceful and Keep Employees in the Loop

If you know you are unlikely to make payroll, it’s essential to be honest upfront.

Proactive communication is crucial during a crisis. If finances are tight, tell people up front, starting with the natural hierarchy of company leaders and involving them in the process. Allowing leaders to inform their teams can soften the blow and make it easier to gather feedback.

And be creative. Teams that want to retain employees in extremely tight situations may consider shrinking paychecks across the board or ask the highest paid, top-level staff members to (electively) forgo paychecks for a short time so lower-level employees can still be paid. This spreads out income and grows confidence and unity in your staff.

People First

Though you may not be closing shop, many businesses will experience shortfalls in this season. Creative, sacrificial entrepreneurs will work hard to protect their most valuable asset: people.

Master Font Psychology to Bring Personality and Purpose

If you wanted to make a splash at a spring gala, what color would you wear?

If you wanted to be known for your edgy personality, what kind of car would you drive?

Just as your personal appearance creates emotion or impact, your design choices will too. While we often undervalue text in designs, every font has a unique personality and purpose. A little font change can go a long way.

With that in mind, take a look at font psychology and see how using it well can win customers through print!

How Fonts Influence Emotion

What is font psychology?

Font psychology deals with the impact fonts have on the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of readers. For example, when you use a Bookman Old Style headline, it’s going to carry a very different tone than a Brush Script or a fanciful Curlz font. When you feature Tempus Sans in primary body copy, it will bring a more contemporary vibe than Franklin Gothic. Once you understand the associations a font carries, you’re on your way to using fonts to create the emotional impact you desire.

Fonts contain features like line, weight, size, and orientation. When you see a font, your brain disentangles those components and associates them with characteristics from the real world. For example, italicized fonts mimic movement (like a runner leaping off the starting blocks), and flowing scripts convey creativity (like a dancer spinning across the stage). Fonts mimic visual characteristics from the real world, so if you want to choose an appropriate font, choose one that visually resembles your context.

Keep it Simple with This Font Cheat Sheet

When you think of the vibe you want to convey, what adjectives come to mind? Basic or bold? Gentle or hardcore? Elegant or gritty? Once you’ve identified the tone you want, here is a cheat sheet you can use to craft corresponding messages:

Slab Serif fonts (or “Egyptians”) are perceived as important, bold, impactful, or attention-grabbing. Great slab serifs include Sentinel, Adelle, Clarendon, Linoletter, Archer, and Amasis.

San Serif fonts are perceived as simple, sensible, straightforward, neutral, and easy to read. Popular selections include Apercu, Futura, Avenir, Verdana, and Avant Garde.  

Simple Serif fonts are seen as stable, respectable, timeless, formal, or traditional. Classic serif fonts include Garamond, Times New Roman, Georgia, and Palatino.

Bold or weighty fonts are seen as dominant, commanding, gallant, significant, and reputable. Have fun with bold fonts like Qanelas Soft Typeface, Nevis, Municipal, or Andor.

Condensed or ultrathin fonts carry a professional, forward-thinking, logical, or influential quality. To sharpen your image, try fonts like District thin, Antipasto pro thin, or Cocotte ultralight.

Vintage fonts come across as old school, retro, stylish, and remarkable. Type outside the box with six different Zing Rust fonts and carefree fonts like Palm Canyon Drive, Parker, or Lovelo. 

Script fonts bring a sense of femininity, elegance, connection, and indulgence. Fun script fonts include Allura, Mistral, or the Segoe family.

Decorative fonts are seen as casual, cool, unique, or high-spirited. Stretch the limits with The Bomb, Circus, Cute Notes, Keep on Truckin’, and more!

Mono-spaced fonts can bring a techy, sophisticated, or smart vibe. To sell your credentials, try Courier, Inconsolata, Maison Mono, or BP Mono.

Display fonts bring a chivalrous, quirky, friendly, or eccentric tone. Use fonts like Amadeus, Anudaw, Bearpaw, and Collegiate to make design twice as fun!

Keep Fonts Front and Center

While fonts are sometimes an after-thought, text is an integral part of your branding and emotional impact. And many online resources are available to help you find fun, free fonts.

Use your font choices to shape perceptions, streamline messages, and project your intent.

4 Strategies to Curb Communication Breakdowns

They say that the only sure thing about communication is that we tend to get it wrong.

If communication between two family members is a challenge, how much harder is communication at work? Have you ever experienced a team “fail” like this?

  • After meetings, people don’t seem to know what was said or what’s coming next. It’s like the meeting never occurred.
  • After training on a new procedure, only one person recalls the protocol.
  • Following a brainstorming session, everyone assumes someone else is covering the “next step.” The ball is dropped, resulting in blame, disillusionment, and embarrassment.

Make Your Messages Stick

Everyone knows communication is critical to success.

To run a thriving business, employees, managers, and CEOs need to communicate clearly and effectively. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of short circuits in this process, which can result in angry employees, difficult HR situations, and lost profit.

What can you do to improve team communication? Here are a few suggestions from some of today’s best leaders:

1. Kick Silo Doors Open

Many teams work well together but fail to communicate with the larger organization.

Communication silos occur when people in different departments don’t collaborate or connect to the bigger company vision. Enon Landenberg, founder and CEO of tech consulting company sFBI, says this is common:

“It’s very possible for departments to focus too much on their own work and miss out on the big ideas that only come from collaboration,” Landenberg said. “Egos [can prevent] honest discussions about the quality of work, necessary improvements and fresh ideas.”

To avoid this problem, send weekly briefings to the entire company and regularly schedule time for divisions or leaders to connect on projects, questions, or suggestions.

2. Limit Email Communication

When employees receive too many emails, they will start forgetting and ignoring the information they receive.

According to Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile, urgent messages should always be relayed by phone or in person. And when it comes to email conversations, Corbin says this:

“[I follow] the three-email rule: After three messages, we talk.”

Simplify not only the amount of email but the language you use. When technical jargon abounds, you increase the chance for errors because people can’t understand you!

3. Squash the Gossip

News travels quickly, especially if it’s bad.

Some rumors are just silly, but many contain an exaggerated seed of truth. Managers should address issues head-on rather than mopping up messes later. Even if you can’t share all the details, giving people a snapshot of the situation will build confidence and quiet dissension.

4. Lead Engaging Meetings

When people fail to listen, their minds are probably elsewhere. 

The burden of communication is yours, so make meetings concise and engaging. Share the purpose of a meeting immediately, and conclude with assignments and action steps. Train managers to share only the most essential information and to use stories to illustrate a point. (e.g. “Yesterday, I got a phone call from our largest shareholder, and guess what they said?”)

Megachurch pastor Craig Groeschel says this:

“Work to keep your meetings small and your communication large. Too many [leaders] make the mistake of including too many people in too many meetings. The purpose of the meeting determines its size and . . . [it is important to] keep the discussion moving. Maintain a sense of polite urgency, pushing hard enough to keep the meeting moving but not so hard that discussion and decision-making is rushed.”

Eliminating miscommunication can head off a whole host of problems, so be intentional and make improvements each day!

Why Custom Notepads are a Perfect Promotional Tool

Want to give your business a gift that keeps giving?

You can do this by giving gifts to other people. According to the ACI 2019 Impressions study, promotional products bring some of the highest rates of return on advertising, trumping all other forms of media. Consumers surveyed said they were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a favorable opinion of promotional products compared to online advertising, and consumers under 55 preferred a promotional product message over EVERY other advertising medium (including print, online, or traditional mass media).

Data shows the average household in the U.S. owns 30 promotional items, which means if there are 120 million households in America, over three billion company logos are floating around at any moment!

Looking for a fun but practical promo gift for your clients and prospects? Custom printed notepads are a great, economical option. Notepads are designed for utility and flexibility, meaning people can take them anywhere and will certainly use them. Since notepads are durable and easy to distribute, they’re great for trade show giveaways, sales rep gifts, presentation folder inserts, or fridge magnet marketing.

Making the Most of Your Custom Notepads

When you are ready to maximize the ad potential of a custom notepad, here are some ideas for making the most of your design:

Define Your Key Concept

Not every notepad is created equal, so you should decide upfront what your design concept will be.

Do you want a stand-alone desk pad with a hilarious 3D appearance (like this hilarious “hair thinning” tearaway Pantogar notepad)? Perhaps a vintage cover or a sparkly flip pad? Whether you want simple sticky notes or an artistic journal, defining your concept will clarify details about paper selection, line guides, and binding.

Strive for Consistent Branding

Because clients will use your notepad over and over, this is a very tangible way to build brand awareness.

Consistent color schemes, fonts, and logos all build your brand and strengthen the associations people have with your business. While you may be tempted to stray from your standard branding guidelines for a promotional pad, this can be unwise.

Put Them to Work Yourself

While many professionals give away notebooks, many fail to use notepads for their own needs.

Notepads can leave lasting impressions on your associates. Not only can they be used for notetaking or strategizing, but they are great for casual correspondence too. Think about how often you jot notes to send internally or externally. Why not do this with your own customized marketing tool? Notebooks offer a subtle strategy for increasing brand credibility.

Consider Custom Photo Options

What is more memorable than a photo?

When you want to add extra personalization, consider a photo banner on top or a transparent full-page photo backdrop for each page. People resonate with pictures, and when they connect to an image, they’re engaging with your business.

Overcome the ordinary and try something unique with image-oriented notepads!

Keep Your Name at Their Fingertips

When you want to grab hold of customers, make it easy for them to grab hold of YOU with a pocket-sized promotional notepad.

Notepads are economical, memorable, practical, and fun. Build on-going exposure as you keep your name at their fingertips with this helpful, handy tool. Contact us to learn more today!

How to Shift from Reactive to Proactive Customer Care

Everyone makes mistakes, but no one likes admitting them.

If we’re honest, business professionals hate owning up to mistakes because of pride, embarrassment, or fear that customers will leave. But denying weaknesses only magnifies awkward situations and hurts your company’s reputation. Dealing proactively with problems will strengthen credibility and spark improvements that benefit your brand.

When Micheal Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey founded Barefoot Cellars, they started in a laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse. Knowing next to nothing, they made many mistakes. In one instance, they discovered a barcode error that led a shipment to ring up for less than it should, which lost the distributor money.

When he caught the mistake, Houlihan showed up personally at the store’s corporate office with a check for the loss, including an added bonus for the distributor’s time and expense. Houlihan described to the manager how Barefoot Cellars was shifting internal processes to make sure the problem never happened again. Because Houlihan owned the mistake and informed the distributor in person, the orders kept coming, and a potential complaint became a memorable learning experience.

Overcoming “Survival Mode” Mentality

For many companies, the default approach is to respond to problems as they arise.

This survival mode mentality may work temporarily, but long-term success is built as your brand is able to impress and delight customers in a more proactive, personalized way.

Future forecasters predict that by 2023 businesses will transition into a season of “continuous service” through artificial intelligence. But in the meantime, customers still need care, and the best strategy is upfront intervention.

Looking to sharpen your systems? Here are three ways to be more proactive:

1. Inform Customers About Your Mistakes Immediately

It’s always better for customers to hear about a problem directly from you instead of discovering it themselves.

If your company identifies a problem upfront, you can avoid costly damages and harmful publicity. As you identify errors, take responsibility for the mistake, offer refunds or future discounts, explain how you are remedying the problem, and let people know who to contact for assistance.

2. Offer Self-Help Customer Service Channels

One reason service can be so frustrating is the wait time and red tape it involves.

Many customers prefer to find answers themselves, so generate accessible content that addresses common complaints. This may include a FAQ page, live chat software, webinar tutorials, or a customer care focus in your print newsletter. Not sure where to start? Review customer service call and email logs or use survey data from clients and customer service representatives. 

3. Build 5-Star Service into Your Company Culture

For proactive service to work, it must be embedded into your company culture.

Here employees are trained to deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. This means everyone (not just the people on the front line) must understand and desire a 5-star service. Teach employees to anticipate what a client MIGHT need and have a solution ready before they ask.

Build Your Brand by Fortifying Customer Confidence

One of the most effective ways to stoke customer confidence is to do things for your customers before they know they need it.

Like a vase on a pottery wheel, proactive service means continually molding and reshaping the interactions customers have with your business. As you preemptively address sore spots, you’ll confirm the customer made the right decision to do business with your company.

How to Build Trust and Unity Through a Strong Company Culture

When it comes to company culture, Zoom is off the charts.

Zoom is a California communications company that provides remote conferencing services for online video meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.

Zoom’s mission is to develop a people-centric cloud service that unifies meeting experiences while improving the quality of communications forever. Zoom is passionate about connecting not only customers but employees.

The company sports its own “happiness crew,” a team committed to maintaining company values through wacky celebrations, community involvement, and volunteering. Happiness crews coordinate team serving opportunities like Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, and more, allowing employees to give back, to enjoy co-workers from other teams, and to make a difference for causes they care about.

Whether it’s arranging a “Bring Your Parent to Work Day” or decorating desks with rubber ducks, this passionate team culture has helped Zoom to grow and thrive.

Company Culture is Beyond “Perks”

Company culture is more than just great coffee or vacation incentives; it goes to the heart of how people treat one another and the values of the company itself.

Deliberately defining and communicating your culture makes it easier to determine who you’re looking for and why certain individuals are a fit for your team. It defines success for employees and encourages people to practice values that are important for your business. And deeper than just perks or parties, company culture unifies people and makes work more meaningful and enjoyable. As you design company culture today, you build trust, responsibility, and vulnerability for tomorrow.

5 Keys to An Enhanced Company Culture

What might an enhanced culture look like for your business? Here are a few keys.

1. Build From the Bottom

Start by defining your mission, vision, and values.

Create language or catchphrases that celebrate a “win,” so values come off the wall and into everyday life. When you center your culture around how you want people to be treated, company culture will fall into place.

2. Identify Cultural Ambassadors

Every company has team members who are passionate about company identity.

These people love the organization and serve as cheerleaders who breathe life into the workplace. Once you identify ambassadors, ask them what they like or dislike about the current atmosphere and what improvements they would suggest.

Ambassadors offer a buffer between the boss and the team and have immense power to sway opinion. Lean on them and be open to change!

3. “Mandate” Fun

A strong work culture requires that everyone gets together, whether it’s a mid-day splurge or an after-work activity.

Offer timed conversation prompts or get people competing to fuel momentum. Looking for ideas? From breakroom cooking competitions to a hilarious round of “Eat Poop, You Cat,” online hacks are endless.

4. Assign Culture Captains

Maybe you can’t afford a happiness crew, but every employee can assist you in connecting with changing personalities.

Involve employees by selecting rotating “Culture Captains” who are in charge of shaping ideas for the month. From Funky Friday costume days to a buffet of the month (with a merit-based giveaway item), getting people involved in planning means everyone will have more fun!

5. Encourage Anonymous Feedback

No one likes criticism, but if you don’t welcome feedback, culture “cancers” can grow.

Send a yearly survey to all employees so everyone can share how they’re feeling and provide anonymous feedback. Allowing an avenue for processing can prompt a wealth of new ideas. Sometimes your team has the solutions you need, and you don’t even know it!

Your Greatest Asset

In a world where great employees are like gold, treating your work atmosphere as an afterthought is a huge missed opportunity. Wise entrepreneurs will design company culture as intentionally as they design the products they sell.