Why should you care if your organization’s culture creates evangelists?

Evangelists spread the word, and they do it with infectious enthusiasm. They tell everyone they encounter why they should do business with you.

The Evangelist, in marketing terms, describes someone who spreads positive word of mouth about your brand. Companies go to great lengths to cultivate them, reaching out to bloggers and fans in hopes to enlist their services and intrigue them enough to start spreading the positive word.

However, there is a powerful evangelist potential that every organization should be careful not to forget…their own people. A culture that creates employee evangelists who tell the world how great you are is one of the best ways to spread the word. When someone says directly or implicitly that the company they work for is special, it makes you look at that company differently. It is unusual enough to hear happy employee stories, that when the staff says it’s a great place you tend to believe it. The other thing about a culture that creates employee evangelists is that the respect they feel is contagious. It touches every customer that they do, and the customers notice.

We have all seen the big public examples of organizations promoting positive internal cultures and evangelists (think Starbucks), but this last week, I was reminded on two separate occasions the benefits of smaller, quieter gestures.

The first happened in a simple Plurk post.

What's your Culture?

The story doesn’t end there. In a relatively short Plurk conversation (13 responses, four of which are below), we learn that “raspberryfox” (a.k.a. Jen Schaefer) approaches her boss to question the policy and is granted permission to access the site. You’ll note that she is new to the job…so the dialogue is that much more impressive. Even though new, she felt comfortable enough to bring it up, and they obviously felt comfortable enough in their culture to discuss the policy, review it, and, if I know Jen, they were compelled enough by her thoughtful and respectful approach to the issue to change it! Now that’s exciting on all fronts!

Reviewing Your Culture

Does listening to your employees indicate a culture that creates evangelists? Not necessarily, but it’s a darn good start. Imagine the tone of the conversation if there was no willingness to listen in her new company. It’s not likely that her Plurk conversation would have been complimentary, let alone evangelistic. Is Jen an evangelist? Well, maybe not yet, but if this kind of open dialogue is a culture that continues to happen within her new company it is only a matter of time.

The second example deals with a conference call a colleague and I were on. Walter Grdevich is our master of all things technological at CAI and was assisting me with some questions I had about our domain name. We have just recently moved from having our services hosted at Sencia, but were unsure as to routing the ties we had to the new company.

Not being entirely sure where to start with our query, we called Clint at Sencia to help us focus. Just to be clear, we are no longer their clients. They have no current business relationship with us. Yet their culture empowered Clint enough to not only spend the time with us to answer the questions we had during that phone call, but to also offer additional assistance should it come up. I should note here that all of the questions, as it turned out, should have been directed to our new provider. Not only did this translate as fantastic “customer” service, but it provided a clear insight as to the open culture that exists within Sencia and the empowerment that culture provided to Clint to deal with us. Clint is an evangelist for Sencia. Not the rah-rah kind, but the quiet kind that leads us to know that we would have no question about recommending the company, and that the next time we do find ourselves in a business relationship with Sencia we will know why. Hmm, maybe that makes us evangelists also.

Spend some time thinking about what your culture says about your organization, what it tells those you work with, and in turn what story they will tell about your company. It is important, and it is worth it!