A consulting colleague of mine, Roberta Matuson, recently wrote a great post for her Forbes blog on “How One Employee Can Permanently Damage Your Brand.” Roberta raises a great point about how important it is that all your employees embrace your brand and understand their impact on customer experience. She shares some compelling, current and personal examples of how employees influenced her as a potential customer.
No matter how much money your company invests in brand strategy, striking creative design, interesting and provocative content, or even innovative products, when it comes down to it your brand is only as good as your customer’s most recent experience.[Tweet “Your brand is only as good as your customer’s most recent experience. #CX”]
Even loyal customers can be alienated by a bad experience with an employee. Depending on the duration and quality of your relationship, some things are forgivable. Others are not. For all the time, effort and money you’re investing in building your business, the last thing you want is for that work to be unraveled by an employee who either unwittingly damages your brand or simply doesn’t care.
Engage Employees as Brand Partners
If you read this and you’re thinking, “that’s true but I can’t control everyone who works for me,” here are some tips.
- First, you need a clear vision for what your customer experience should be. Set expectations for employees so they know how you want them to behave. This goes beyond simple rules of engagement like being friendly and polite. Your vision should include how you want to make customers feel, and what kind of environment you’d like to create for them.
- Next, look at the steps along your customer journey and see where they align with your employees’ roles and responsibilities. What are the key touch points that can make or break a relationship at that moment? What emotional factors – at that particular point in the journey – influence a customer’s willingness to continue on or opt out?
- Determine how you want employees to handle these pivotal interactions. How can your employees help prospects along? Make sure that your employees understand what their role is here and why it is so important to the business and the brand. Set expectations, model desired behavior and reinforce exceptional avatars.
- Finally, step beyond the boundaries of the customer journey and take a broader view. How do your employees’ actions either reinforce or detract from the brand promises that you make every day? Define the attitudes and activities that will help them more effectively engage potential buyers more and existing customers whenever they cross paths.
Every employee on your team is a brand ambassador in some respect. Whether they’re sitting at a registration table in the hallway of a hotel conference center or simply sharing work stories with their friends on the weekend, employees are a reflection of the environment in which they work.
Their words and actions are a window into the culture of your company. Is that a culture that values customers and puts their needs first, or is it one that would rather take the money and run?
Customers are smart, they can read the signs no matter what your carefully crafted messaging says about your brand. Each employee’s attitude and approach speaks volumes, and can quickly override more formal communications.
Shouldn’t you be cultivating the messages your employee brand ambassadors share, too?