In short, the answer is "be more open", but here are some key aspects which can help with that:
- Corporate Responsibility - Have a Corporate Responsibility programme which shows what the company does for the local, national and global communities and environments.
- Apprentice or Voluntary Schemes - Have an apprentice or voluntary scheme, allowing fresh new personnel to come in and learn about that business and that market.
- Promote Local Community Access - Given sufficient size, have minimum percentages for employing unskilled, part-time or older workers, to allow the local populus access to and benefit from the company.
- Recognise & Reward Talent - Gear recruitment towards testing skills, not looking at recent experience, and gear staff and supplier appraisal to rewarding talent, not just following role tramlines.
- Facilitate Supplier Engagement & Performance - Have open communication with suppliers, allowing suppliers to engage rapidly with business ethos, current development programmes and customer preferences. Focus on the ability to plan as well as deliver, and ensure planning and delivery charges are negotiable dependent on performance.
- Encourage Interaction - Provide managed online communities where employees can guide local community initiatives, engage with suppliers about key issues, promote best practice and get new ideas for development from customers.
- Encourage Customer Self Help - In a managed online community, encourage customers to share problems and help each other, this is a priceless source of feedback about aspects of performance which need improvement, and can lift customer perception substantially if the right approach is taken to resolving issues. Look at the view customers had of the old NTL, and how much better it is as Virgin Media !! Great Customer Service can attract as well as keep customers !
Peter Jones of Blue Oyster Product Development is an innovation consultant, with over 20 years experience delivering new products and services on behalf of mostly FTSE100 clients, but also SME clients.