Mercedes-Benz determined that an annual increase in the score of a corporation of a single statistical point on the customer satisfaction barometer five years consecutively corresponded to more than an 11% increase in profitability (Ross, 2002).
Mercedes-Benz also determined that generating positive attitudes among its employees was essential to achieving high employee retention rates and to maintaining a positive work environment (Russell-Walling, 2005). The company determined that this is particularly important with respect to the quality of customer service interactions and to the willingness of employees to conduct customer relations in the manner most conducive to retaining customers for the long-term. Essentially, Mercedes-Benz determined that employee satisfaction, in large part, determined the company's success at retaining both quality employees and also its success retaining customers thereby (Russell-Walling, 2005).
Mercedes-Benz began soliciting the opinions of employees by inquiring anonymously into such things as whether or not they enjoy their work, whether or not they derive personal satisfaction from their work, whether or not they are proud of the company, whether they consider themselves overworked, whether they are physically comfortable at work, whether they are treated well by supervisors, and most importantly, whether those factors influence their attitude about working for Mercedes-Benz (Russell-Walling, 2005). As a result of those inquiries, Mercedes-Benz established specific guidelines implementing measures designed to maximize employee contentment and to generate positive attitudes in all of those areas (Russell-Walling, 2005).
Similarly, the research review conducted by Mercedes-Benz determined that several factors that it had not anticipated as being influential also affected employee morale (Russell-Walling, 2005). In addition to the factors such as those included in its preliminary surveys that pertain mainly to the actual operational aspects of individual employee involvement in the organization, there are also macroscopic factors not ordinarily considered as important to employees that also play a direct role in employee satisfaction. For example, Mercedes-Benz began including questions about whether or not employees "feel good" about the company, whether or not they approve of strategic choices of the company from the perspective of effective competition, whether or not they understand the corporate business strategy, and whether or not they feel their vocational efforts are connected to the corporate strategy (Russell-Walling, 2005).
In addition to carefully considering the views and attitudinal factors responsible for a positive workplace from their employees' perspective, Mercedes-Benz also initiated a comparable effort to increase its understanding of its market and its clientele. With respect to the former, Mercedes-Benz began analyzing and comparing the market values and profits of its industry competitors. It began analyzing the business designs of competitors who were successful as well as those of competitors who were not successful. With respect to the latter, Mercedes-Benz began examining patterns of consumer habits and changes in the priorities of its customers and clientele to determine how those patterns affect spending. Finally, Mercedes-Benz analyzed the relationship between and among those factors to identify what elements of business design correspond to increasing the ability of the company to maximize customer satisfaction and generate profit by following those directives (Russell-Walling, 2005).
Based on its research, Mercedes-Benz implemented a corporate culture that specifically conceives of generating the most positive attitude among its employees and generating employee satisfaction and long-term retention as a specific means of ensuring customer service interactions conducive to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty (Ross, 2002; Russell-Walling, 2005). The second component of its new corporate culture focus has to do with understanding the types of relatively minor issues that have revealed themselves to be influential in the customer service relationship outside of the scope of the "tone" of customer service experiences (Ross, 2002).
In addition to generating genuinely positive rapport between employees and a content workforce, Mercedes-Benz has implemented other changes designed to ensure that customers doing business with the company experience the same type of first-class treatment that corresponds to their economic means and the psychology behind the demand for high-end luxury products apart from high quality, which (especially at Mercedes-Benz) is always assumed. For example, Mercedes-Benz no longer uses automated telephone information systems with robotic directions or music on hold (Ross, 2002).
Management determined that the expense of maintaining enough customer service telephone representatives to ensure that every customer reaches a human being on the first attempt is well worth it from the perspective of earning business. Similarly, Mercedes-Benz was one of the first automobile companies to implement a loaner vehicle program and a concierge-type service intended to accommodate the customer and keep the inconvenience and unpleasantness of necessary repairs to an absolute minimum (Ross, 2002; Russell-Walling, 2005).
In the modern age of business, corporate culture has become a defining element of major corporations. The impact of globalization complicates the competitive environment and requires strategies for maintaining corporate culture consistency across all business lines, facilities, and (as demonstrated by Toyota) even among business partners and suppliers. In a business environment increasingly characterized by tight profit margins and intense competition for customers, establishing and maintaining corporate cultures conducive to organizational success is more important than ever.
There are many different approaches and themes from which corporations must choose to incorporate those that relate most directly to their particular industries and clientele. In some cases, a focus on production efficiency may be the principal concern of a corporate culture; in other cases, understanding the specific preferences and psychology of customers and establishing meaningful connections with them is the core component of corporate culture.
Both Toyota and Mercedes-Benz have developed corporate cultures intended to further their interests by addressing the most important aspects of their business models as suggested by empirical research and proven principles of business success. At Toyota, the corporate culture strongly emphasizes the style of management it expects throughout the organization as well as strict quality control. At Mercedes-Benz, the specificity of the clientele has driven a slightly different approach to corporate culture that strongly emphasizes customer service and the maximal retention of existing customers over the acquisition of new customers. In both cases, the appropriateness of the corporate culture to the needs of the organization have been…