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Power of organizational culture in “establishing relationship” with clients

Suresh (2002) states that creating relationships with clients is the first step as well as the important stage in client relationship management process (CRM). Ms Chu ThanhTrang- a young, beautiful and creative account executive of IO media also agrees with this perspective. Furthermore, she believes that organizational culture is the decisive foundation which influences a lot to this step. Specifically, grasping organizational culture will support agencies a holistic view about clients and their expectation. Thus, agencies can adjust their behaviors, attitudes and communication to create the positive harmony during cooperating time. Furthermore, it also helps agenciesdecrease potential conflicts with clients to have the best result for the collaboration of two organizations.

ImageMs Chu ThanhTrang used to be Professional Communication student on RMIT University. She graduated from RMIT in 2011 and now she is working for IO media. It is the media company which focuses mainly on strategy planning and creativity, viral marketing, PR online, social media marketing and evaluation. As an account executive, she is responsible for meeting clients to discuss about their expectations, pitching and managing a campaign until it ends. Working in the interesting advertising industry, it is essential for Trang to set up many different relationships with clients who possess a variety of organizational cultures. She said “Clients is like my lovers, before I find ways to satisfy them, I have to know their culture first”.

What is organizational culture?

According to Schein (1990), organizational culture is the basic form of shared assumptions, values and beliefs which relates to way of thinking and acting of people in one specific organization. In other words, organizational culture concerns with the ways people perceive the characteristics of theirs organization; these principles will determine how people behave within the context of the company.They also distinguish differences between the organization and others. In a comparison with the definition, Ms Trang said that “Like human, each organization are effected by a variety of typical cultures; therefore, agencies need an accurate understanding of the organizational culture of clients in order to conduct activities productively and avoid the destructive influence of having clients who are not committed with operation process.

What are kinds of organizational culture that Trang focuses on?

Underlying the behaviors and attitudes of people in an organization are the artifacts, values and assumptions (Schein, 1990). Trang also applies fundamental three factors when she gets to know her clients. Firstly, artifacts include tangible things that people can observe when enter an organization. They could be from people’s dresses, the smell of the workplace and its emotional intensity to organization’s manifestation such as company record, product, service or annual records. Trang always makes a list about visible facts which related to her clients. Her list mainly consists of background, contacts of important people in client’s organization and previous campaigns of a company. One artifact that could be important while studying about client’s culture is norms. Norm is defined as a way people communicate in their routine behavior (O’ Donnell & Boyle, 2008). In Trang’s case, she tries to search whether her clients work normal or informal style; her clients are positive or active people. For example, Trang used to work with a Japanese client who belongs to high context cultures group; therefore Trang always invited him for a dinner to discuss about a project rather than serious meetings.

Second level is shared values of client’s organizational culture. Values are often associated with work and organizations such as time orientation, tolerance, independence and prestige. In contrast with artifacts, values are invisible and more difficult to observe. Members in an organization rarely realize their values and they could influence to members’ actions unconditionally. Trang told a story that one of her clients always late for meetings and she was really upset because she felt lack of respect. However, when she heard the client’s company is quite comfortable at time, Trang started to sympathy for this client. From that day, Trang spend times when a client is late to prepare more careful for her report.

The deepest level of organizational culture is assumption. They are beliefs which are taken for granted, so organizational members no longer discuss about them. Trang perceives that assumption is also the most crucial step among three levels of organizational culture. The reason is that once understanding organization’s assumption, it will be much easier to analyze the meanings which implicit in attitudes and behaviors of individuals in an organization.  However, assumption is more ambiguous than other two stages.  Therefore, it will take longer time for agencies to discover and interpret these characteristics of an organization. Trang had an unforgettable experience from her Japanese client who has a strong organizational assumption. Trang admitted that her Japanese client is a person who prefers objectivism rather than subjectivism. He only wanted the best result and did not accept any mistakes within a campaign.Thus, in this client’s culture; the assumption of “no excuses” is approval. Therefore, Trang tried her best to resolve problems within a Japanese client’s project without reported any mistakes to her client.

Where are the sources of organizational cultural information that Trang always search for?

Trang answers that there are three main methods to look for information of clients.Firstly, basic information could be found in client’s portfolio. Furthermore, Trang also finds in Internet for more details. Finally, she invites her colleagues to a coffee shop and asks her friends about her potential’s client organization.

After she researches this basic information, she begins to share for every member in her team. Trang and her team will begin to analyzing prominent characteristics of client’s culture. They will point out the most noticeable strengths, weaknesses and solutions to deal with differences between clients and agencies. Then, she has to assure that everyone in her team understands clearly this information because it can influence to the relationship with clients and agency’s operation during collaborated periods.

In conclusion, throughout the interview with Ms Chu ThanhTrang, agencies, especially new agencies should focus more about organizational culture. The reason is that each organization has different culture. Although these cultures are quite difficult to search and observe, they are important elements in establishing relationships with clients as well as maintaining and developing relationships. Understanding organizational also decrease risks of conflicts within collaborated period with clients.

Reference list

O’ Donnell, O, Boyle, R 2008, ‘Understanding and managing organizational culture’, cpmr.gov.ie, viewed 10 May 2012, < <http://www.cpmr.gov.ie/Documents/Understanding%20and%20Managing%20Organisational%20Culture.pdf>.

Schein EH 1990, ‘Organizational culture’, American Psychological Association, vol. 45, no.2, pp. 109-119, viewed 10 May, 2012 < http://www.machon-adler.co.il/readers/reader56.pdf>.

Suresh, H 2002, ‘Customer relationship management- An opportunity for competitive advantage’, ahmadsubagyo.com, viewed 10 May 2012, <http://www.ahmadsubagyo.com/download/crm/CRM_opportunity_to_competetive_advantage.pdf>.

Posted by Tuan Ngoc Lan Anh (s3246030)

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