If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how important branding is to your business or organization. Your brand communicates to your customers, your target market, and your industry as a whole who you are as an organization. Through your various branding elements you can communicate what your business or organization stands for and what separates you from your competitors.
Do Your Employees Represent Your Brand?
You’ve likely spent a considerable amount of money developing your brand and incorporating your brand elements into your business, including your website and other company properties. However, you would never allow your employees to toss out your brand on a whim in favor of something they created. For instance, you don’t allow your employees to alter your company logo or allow them to change your brand’s colors. So how well do your employees represent your brand when they interact with customers? Have you instituted guidelines for customer interactions that adhere to the spirit of your brand, or do you allow your employees to improvise every time they interact with a customer?
Provide Guidelines for Customer Interactions
It’s important to note that establishing guidelines for your customer-facing employees when interacting with customers should not be used as a vehicle for micromanaging your employees. You cannot control every conversation that your employees have with customers, and attempting to exert that level of control will only be disruptive and damage morale. Instead, think of extending your brand to customer interactions as a way for you to provide guidelines for your employees to improve their interactions and communications with customers. Your branding should influence the tone and some of the phrasing in customer interactions, but more importantly it should influence how your employees interact with customers. For instance, if your brand emphasizes personalized, hands-on customer service, setting guidelines for how often your employees should attempt to reach a customer by phone, rather than via email or social media, can help steer your customer interactions in a direction that is more consistent with your brand.
Start With The Big Picture
Many entrepreneurs and managers mistakenly believe that establishing brand-centric guidelines for Customer interactions starts (and sometimes even stops) with a catchy opening line to customers, often used as a greeting when answering a phone call or welcoming a customer into a retail space. While properly greeting your customers is important, your goal should be to steer client interactions in a manner that is consistent with your brand, which should align your customer interactions more with the manner in which you conduct your business. While this may sound complicated at first, it is actually relatively simple. If your business emphasizes convenience and efficiency, you should coach your employees on ways that they can more conveniently and efficiently communicate with customers, which should allow your employees to be more efficient on the job. If your brand emphasizes the opposite – that your business emphasizes personalized customer service and more in-depth interactions – then your customer interactions should reflect those values and provide your employees with the time and resources they need to make that branding ideal a reality. Your business will quickly run into trouble if you provide conflicting guidelines to your employees – for instance, if you insist on limiting client interactions in the name of efficiency while promoting a brand that communicates personalized, hands-on service.
In our next blog post, we will discuss some of the ways your business can create consistent, easy-to-follow guidelines to govern every client type and length of client interaction, no matter how brief or seemingly inconsequential.