Company culture is not created simply by filling an office with ping pong tables and free food, offering yoga classes, and allowing dogs. These are perks, not culture.
Company culture is a reflection of behavior. And what guides a team's behavior? This is where core values come in.
When you reflect on and write down what you want your team to be, it will happen.
Five years ago at MailerLite, we wrote down our values and the way we work. Every new team member signs under them along with their job contract. These values help a great deal to make sure that everyone is on the same page, especially because we are a remote team.
Values help us in making strategic plans and in our daily life. For example, if someone wants to work out at 1 p.m., he/she does it.
Moreover, values help a lot in hiring new people. They know what to expect from us. For instance, we won’t work with a rock star developer that doesn’t respect other team members.
Company culture is not permanent, nor should it be. When you have a small team, you expect everyone to be available to help you with multiple tasks. When you grow, team members have specific roles and you want them to focus on their job.
This is exactly what happened at MailerLite. We grew to the point where we needed to revise and change our values.
For a long time, we focused on customer support. We even had a policy that once a month, every team member worked in customer support. At the time it was a super fun idea and customers were constantly surprised. Depending on the day, you could have had a chat with the CEO, a designer or someone from marketing.
We still believe that a customer’s recommendation is the best payoff for us. But our approach has changed in terms of how we take care of customers and stay on top of their needs.
With a bigger team, it’s a struggle to prepare everyone to cover support. We prefer people to focus on their specific job and to be very good at it.
Now developers improve the product and the support team talks with our customers. The support team collects all the customers’ requests and then project managers decide how to implement it.
We are very proud to say that our 24/7 customer support response time is under 10 minutes. And MailerLite is proud to lead in the customer satisfaction category among other email marketing companies. Thanks to our professional support team, our customer satisfaction is 97%.
The journey above is how our value “Deliver WOW through customer support” evolved to “Focus on our current customers”. It makes it clear that our dedication to our customers goes beyond just customer support. It’s a company-wide mission!
In the last 5 years, we had some major challenges. Only in bad times do you get to know what matters the most. We’ve learned that issues can be solved much faster if you know about them as early as possible.
That’s why we added “Take responsibility” to our values. Before there is a problem, we expect team members to communicate concerns. We also expect everyone to take responsibility for their actions. If there is a problem, we admit it and we fix it.
Business moves fast. Being able to adapt to new challenges and situations is essential.
It’s been said the only constant in life is change. Change is positive because it forces us to reflect on and reevaluate everything from our habits to interactions to goals.
Change is even better when it’s initiated. At MailerLite, we are constantly figuring out ways to make our product better and implementing new approaches to make working together a more fruitful and enjoyable experience.
Our newest value, “Embrace the change”, means that we want the team to experiment and to try new approaches. Sure, it means failures, but that’s the only way to move forward and initiate change.
Strong company cultures are not made with things, but with different people from different places who all share a common set of values.
For us, our company values are paramount, but they are never set in stone. They are a compass for success and indicators of our culture that evolve with time, growth, and experience.
Do you have company values? Have you ever changed them and why? Please share in the comments!
I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.