How Businesses Can Pay It Forward and Give Back to The Community 54

How Businesses Can Pay It Forward and Give Back to The Community - let's reach success

This is a guest post by Lexie Lu, a designer and blogger. She contributes to the design world and usually has a cup of coffee close by. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter.

Part of running a successful business is giving back to the community that helped lead the company to success.

Small businesses can especially benefit from supporting their local community because it will get the name out there and create positive messages about the company, but bigger business should also pay it forward.

For companies who want a creative and fun way to get involved in the community, this is a good place to start. There are many ways to pay it forward depending on the size and personality of your business and employees.

Here are a few original ways for businesses to pay it forward:

1. Highlight Employees Who Are Community Volunteers.

Chances are, some of your employees already give back to the community in one way or another. Find out who these superstars are by asking around and feature them in a company newsletter or a “community corner” monthly.

Soon enough, employees will share the volunteer activities and service projects they do outside of work, which will create motivation for the entire company. If you have enough room in your budget, you can even offer a small bonus or an extra day off for the featured employee each month to boost drive.

2. Become a Sponsor.

By sponsoring a youth sports team or a local event, you’ll not only get your business’ name out there, but you’ll make a difference in the lives of your community members.

Find out if any of your employees have children on a sports team who need a sponsor. Alternatively, you could become a sponsor for your community’s Relay for Life or March for Dimes.

Take this a step farther and get your employees to participate in these events! These are great ways to show your support for the community while fighting for important causes.

One way to pay it forward and bring your employees closer together is a group service trip. There are many trips you can take as a group that allow you to bring food and water to those in need, care for children, build homes and bring love to communities that desperately need it.

These trips are usually highly customizable to support the number of people you want to take and the amount of time you’d like to spend. On a group service trip like this, your staff will grow much closer in ways that they couldn’t have without this opportunity — and they’ll positively enjoy the chance to give back.

3. Teach a Skill.

teach a skill to give back to the community

As a successful businessperson, you’ve developed valuable skills that other people in your community would love to have.

Take time to teach classes to local residents through a community center to share the knowledge you gained in the business world.

You could also volunteer to speak at a local school or tutor kids and young adults who need help in a field you know well. Using your skills for something other than work can be very rewarding.

4. Hold a Contest Among Employees.

Holding an office-wide contest is a great way to give back while having fun. Have each employee choose a cause that is important to them and then hold a contest. The winner receives money to donate to the charity of their choice.

The contest will ultimately depend on the type of work your company does.

It can be work-related or something for fun, such as the employee who walks the most steps in a week or the employee who brings in the most bags of clothes to donate to a local goodwill.

This will get employees excited and involved in giving back.

5. Have a Care for the Community Day.

Get the whole team out of the office for a “care for the community” day. Volunteer at a local food bank or at a local charity that needs help.

You could also take part in a Habitat for Humanity Project and build a house as a team for a needy family. A day spent giving back will be great team building and your employees will appreciate the break from the office!

6. Get Your Customers Involved.

If you work in a company that regularly interacts with customers, you can get them involved in giving back!

Try putting out a collection jar to collect donations for a charity and encourage customers to put extra change in it. During the holidays, set up a giving tree, where customers can choose a tag and buy a gift for a deserving child or family.

Completing a service project with your employees and customers is a great way to become a more rounded business, get your customers involved and pay it forward.

7. Stand Behind Causes That Support Your Values.

When choosing which service projects to do and which causes to support, think about the values of your company.

Does the business have a specific focus that can lead you to a certain cause? Does somebody on your team suffer from a disease that the company can support? Does a specific charity resonate with your company’s mission?

If you choose causes wisely while giving back, you’ll be able to spend your time and energy giving to a charity that you’ll feel good about. The community will begin to identify you with specific causes which will help your brand.

Paying it forward and giving back to the community is an important part of any business, though sometimes it isn’t the first priority. Use these ideas to make giving back a main concern in your company and feel good about the work you do inside and outside of the office.

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The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 6

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Time
Understanding
Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected
Follow-Through

Time

When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.

Understanding

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You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”

Follow-Through

You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

***
Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.