By Emily Shea, VP & Executive Creative Director
June 04, 2014
People who have lost a lot of weight sometimes report that losing the weight was hard—but keeping it off is even harder.
Once that initial burst of enthusiasm fizzles out and the mighty motivators that were so powerful in the beginning drift to the backburner, what’s left?
Sometimes, it’s apathy. Indifference. Or worse: reversal.
The same thing can happen to your brand promise. When the ra-ra brainstorming sessions are a distant memory and your exciting new message roll-out has been completed, is your company going to be ready to stand behind what you’ve created?
Here are a few strategies for keeping your brand promise sparkling long after the honeymoon is over.
Rally employees. Then rally them again. (And again.)
A company’s front-line employees—those who interact with customers directly—are the brand promise keepers. Unfortunately, they’re often not the promise makers.
According to an article in Leadership Excellence, fewer than 20% of employees know their organization’s business strategy. Even fewer can articulate the brand strategy.
Maybe everyone was in the know about this stuff at one point, before time and turnover chipped away at that foundational knowledge. Eventually, employees got distracted, new hires weren’t brought up to speed properly and tangible work overpowered the “fluff” of internal professional development.
Every front-line employee should understand your brand’s promise and why it matters, and they should have the tools to deliver on that promise. This will likely require some ongoing evangelism in the form of in-person training or well-prepared instructive materials (or, even better, a strategic mix of the two).
But the reality is that, however you tackle it, the education never truly ends. The more opportunities you take to get your brand promise in front of your employees in new ways, the better it will stick, and the higher the likelihood that your customers’ expectations will be met and your brand’s reputation preserved.
Identify all of your touch points
When we think about customer touch points, it’s easy to zero in on the obvious players: your website, your newsletters, your sales calls. You’ve worked hard to make sure these primary channels are properly representing your marketing message.
But if you keep looking, you’ll find an endless supply of potential touch points and, possibly, untapped opportunities for planting the seeds of your brand promise. Every single interaction a customer or potential customer has with your company is a touch point—from the pleasantness of your receptionist’s voice to the cleanliness of your facility to the snacks and beverages you offer at meetings. Everything matters.
The best way to identify your touch points is by walking through a customer or potential customer’s experience with your organization. How easy was it for them to find your office? Did they have any trouble parking? How did they feel when they stepped into your lobby? Was there someone there to greet them, or did they have to wait?
To help employees understand the value of these details, make sure to always tie them back to your brand promise. Your customers likely won’t remember the genius you infused into your website copy, but they’ll certainly remember how welcome they felt at your first meeting together.
Create delight on the inside to project delight on the outside
In this fascinating article about how Taj Hotels maintains its brand promise of delighting customers, at any and all costs, the senior vice president of Taj’s human resources department said, “It’s a very simple truth that only cheerful and happy employees can create cheerful and happy customers.”
Your employees are your brand ambassadors, which essentially means that you need to be courting them right alongside your customers. If your employees aren’t inspired by what they’re doing every day and don’t feel appreciated in doing it, they certainly aren’t going to feel inspired to spread the love for your company.
At S&B, we take creating internal delight very seriously. Employees here are treated to company outings almost every month, including our huge fall tailgating party and our summer baseball game event, along with surprise treats like free pizza for National Pizza Party Day and free pie on Pi Day. Last Friday, we had a spontaneous grill-out at lunchtime.
And that’s in addition to all the holiday-specific festivities, like our in-office Easter egg hunt, Halloween costume contest and holiday office decorating contest.
If you worry about how you’ll fund all this fun, don’t. “When…customers at any service-related business are happy with brand value drivers such as employees’ efforts to satisfy, options and amenities, and precision in service, they spend more. The research showed that a 10% increase in any one brand value driver translates into a 22% increase in customer spending.”
In other words: happy employees lead to happy customers, and happy customers pay more.
Draw up your brand report card
How well is your company upholding your brand promise right now? To find out, try this article’s suggestion:
Take a sheet of paper and draw three columns.
- In the first column, list the brand promises you’ve stated to your customer and the ones they are likely to assume.
- In the middle column, list the accompanying frontline actions that you’ve communicated to your employees and trained them to take.
- In the third column, list the measurement, metric, or frontline feedback you use to measure how well you keep your promises.
This might be a good exercise to run through with your leadership group, or to have each department tackle separately. Make sure to communicate the results and any lessons learned back to the entire company!
What is something you do to keep your company’s brand promise alive?