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Work Ethic and Corporate Culture

returnsStrategically, it is important to define and understand your corporate culture and work ethic. Last week, I wrote about the ethic of hard work. Customer service is another work ethic that must be defined. For example, how do you handle a complaint from a customer?

I remember a customer who bought a multipack of toothpaste and returned one of tubes for a refund, complaining that the toothpaste came out of both ends. It was obvious that the customer had mishandled the product. I watched as my father, to my surprise, gave the customer a complete refund on the TOTAL sale. When I later asked why, he said that we do not question a complaining customer. Refusing a refund could result in losing a customer. It was not worth the $1.97 sale. Our reputation was at stake. Our entire staff understood how ethical our family was in handling the customer; my parent’s actions and ethics shaped the culture of the company.

What I learned that day still applies today. You spend huge advertising dollars to get a customer and, for a $1.97 issue, you can lose them and their whole group if the issue is not properly taken care of.

That is one of the reasons Nordstrom still has a no-questions-asked return policy. “If the quality isn’t there, if the garment is falling apart, whatever it is, we’ll take it back,” says spokeswoman Brooke White. Not only does Nordstrom stand behind their merchandise; they stand behind their customer. A liberal customer return policy, however, sometimes results in abuse. REI recently found it necessary to change its policy from unlimited returns to one that restricts customers to returning items within a year. Because commissions were impacted by the return policy, the change boosted employee morale, while still showing value to the customer.

How do your work ethics influence your company culture? Creating a healthy, definable culture will play a major role in moving your business to the next level. The details that define it are all a part of what makes a company great.