Whoever coined the adage “promises are made to be broken” clearly wasn’t in business with a brand to protect.
When businesses create marketing communications to deliver messages about their brand, they essentially make a promise to would-be customers about the brand’s attributes. Many of New Zealand’s large corporates spend millions to promote their brand and encourage consumers to take positive action.
But anyone who has dialed up a customer service centre knows how quickly a sweet brand image can turn to bitter aftertaste in a matter of seconds. Even for small companies – say, a plumber with an advert in the Yellow Pages – phone and face-to-face manner makes a huge difference to initial customer experience in comparison to their expectations.
It is vital for staff in customer-facing roles to have the skills and attributes required to back up a brand’s often expensively attained image. The way they interact with customers should be consistent with the brand, enhancing the brand experience.
There are two key ways to ensure, relatively quickly, that what is delivered meets the expectations created by brand image.
The first is investing in correct training. Providing comprehensive and effective training to front line sales and customer service staff which results in behaviours that reflect and enhance the brand costs a tiny fraction of the spend on brand campaigns. Experts will train staff to represent the brand correctly, and deliver messages which are consistent.
It doesn’t take long to teach staff they are the face of their company, and to give them the opportunity and confidence to use their newly-acquired skills. When considering whether it’s time to train their staff, companies should ask: Do their teams truly understand the value of customers? Do they have the tools to exceed their expectations at all times? Do they know how to turn complaints into business?
Good training will give staff tools and skills to:
- Manage their own attitudes and feelings so that they give positive and excellent service;
- Respond positively to challenging customers and complaints;
- And translate the external marketing messages into great customer experiences and more business.
The second requirement is to ensure internal communication is efficient and timely. Many frontline customer experience debacles are caused because a company has failed to effectively let staff at the coal face know of new products being advertised, or new promotions customers are likely to enquire about. These staff are not deliberately being obtuse; they simply haven’t been given the right information to help protect their company’s brand.
With the right staff training and internal communication systems, companies go a long way to delivering on their promises. “A promise made is a promise kept” – that has a much better ring to it.