customer excellence round table: purpose pays

Customer Excellence Round Table 2019: Why does “Purpose” pay off?

press release

Munich, 04.11.2019 – At the "Customer Excellence Round Table" event organized by The Retail Performance Company (rpc) on 17 and 18 October in Munich, top managers from leading companies discussed what drives a company and to what extent its purpose is decisive for its future economic success. This results in two theses for a purpose that not only creates orientation but also carries it sustainably.

purpose pays off

This year's rpc Customer Excellence Round Table was dedicated to the topic "Purpose pays: Increasing profitability by shaping business culture". Driven by the current discussions on climate protection, unequal opportunity, and social tensions, companies are asking themselves more than ever about their purpose and destination. At the rpc event series, Munich based decision-makers from HypoVereinsbank, BMW AG, MINI, h&z Managementberatung, Piepenbrock, Adidas, Visplay GmbH, Media-Saturn Holding GmbH, Oberpollinger, Sofitel, Hymer and Graf Dichtungen discussed the topic and their experiences and came to the following conclusion: The search for purpose is no longer just a trend, but big enough to turn the rules of corporate management upside down. "The question of the company's purpose has the power to initiate a holistic change process," says Jan Schemuth, Managing Director of rpc. "Purpose, like digital transformation, is a fundamental disruptor. Finding out what drives a company and its employees are hard work and require constant attention," explains Schemuth. One thing is clear: “The driver for a company is always the human being. When people change, companies must also change”, adds Jan Schemuth.


two theses on the corporate purpose

1. Differentiate and fill with life  

To find their purpose, companies must be able to answer the following questions impartially: What makes our work meaningful? What do we stand for? What are our employees proud of and what do our customers value about us? And what contribution do we make as a company to "improve tomorrow's world"? For brands, these are existential and difficult questions that lead them to question their role in the lives of their customers and employees.

However, according to the survey of participants at the event, many companies still find it difficult to distinguish their purpose from their brand promise and corporate vision. The result is that the purpose of the company is not sufficiently communicated to employees or customers. Here it is important to make sure that the terms are communicated to everyone in the company so that they can be carried properly outwards: Purpose is the overriding motivation, the inner drive of the company, the question of "why". Vision means clear instructions to all employees on where the company is heading. And the brand promise indicates which expectations of the stakeholders the brand fulfills.

Especially in times of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), the needs of customers and employees change permanently. Saturated markets, social media, and preferences for social responsibility, especially within the younger generation, make employees, customers and investors search for clear, differentiating characteristics of brands. For the corporate purpose to provide orientation, it must not only come from within the company but must also be filled with life. It is important that all employees know the purpose and what drives the company. "It is not enough just to understand the purpose of the company. Everyone in the company has to actively discuss and intensively deal with this," explains Erik Bellendir, Partner at rpc. The purpose thus becomes a guideline for the entire company and reaches employees, customers and investors alike.

2. Keeping promises and courage for honesty

The purpose is ultimately also always a question of trust. Identifying with brands and trusting them is important for all stakeholders: for people looking for a new employer, employees, investors, and customers. Authenticity is an important driver to communicate purpose seriously. "Nothing is more implausible than "purpose washing," says Jan Schemuth. "If companies commit themselves to an ethical mission, they must act consistently according to this maxim. If they only do justice to their purpose superficially, the punishment is not long in coming: customers, employees, and investors turn away from the brand or boycott it in the worst case. In the discussion about purpose, companies must be honest with themselves and not see purpose as a purely ethical motivation from which they operate. The deep desire to founding a company to produce the best or most practical product, for example, is a more credible motivation than a purpose that the company cannot meet. 

About the event

As part of the annual Customer Excellence Round Table, selected experts and top executives at decision-maker level discuss current and innovative topics at the customer interface in a networking and workshop format. Future concepts and challenges will be discussed with companies from various industries with the aim of providing new impetus for the strategy. The event serves as a non-competitive platform for the exchange of proven and future-oriented solutions and the establishment of an exclusive network.

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Stephan Pauli
Stephan Pauli
Head of Business Development & Marketing