May 30, 2024

The tension between results and relationships


You can tell more about a company’s values by looking at what it motivates employees to do than by what it says.

We value what’s right for our customers in everything we do. Everything we do is built on trust. It doesn’t happen with one transaction, in one day on the job or in one quarter. It’s earned relationship by relationship.

That is the values statement found on the Wells Fargo website. But recent news stories suggest it puts a higher value on its sales results than on customer relationships.

Regulators have fined the bank $185 million for opening unauthorized accounts and charging customers for products without their permission. At the center of the controversy is Wells’ aggressive cross-selling strategy.

For years Wells Fargo has been the envy of its rivals because of its ability to sell multiple products to its customers. Until recently its goal was for each customer to have six different products or services from the bank. This created a sales culture that eventually spun out of control.

Under pressure to meet daily sales quotas, some employees opened as many as two million scam accounts. Many unsuspecting customers didn’t find out about them until unauthorized fees caused their accounts to be overdrawn.

The character of a brand

One of the lessons here is the importance of aligning compensation with your corporate values. Compensation drives behavior inside your company culture. And behaviors reflect the values and character of your brand.

Many organizations focus on managing their reputation and cultivating an image. But what matters more to customers is being true to your values. Character matters more than image.

The tension between results and relationships is a test of corporate character. Especially if your stated values are to build a relationship of trust with customers. When you treasure sales results above customer relationships, your heart will follow.

Vision and values do not live on your ‘About Us’ page. They live in the hearts of the people who touch your customers every day.

[BONUS: We recently talked about this idea on The Heart of Marketing podcast. Listen in to find out how to create a ‘heartful’ business culture.]

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