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Transform your employees into brand ambassadors

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As a customer, how do you feel when you hear 'Next!' at a coffee shop, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, bank or doctor's office? Many people find the experience impersonal and a bit cold and I would agree. Now, how do you feel when you are greeted with a smile and welcoming words like 'Good morning! How are you today?' Being welcomed, asked how you're feeling and greeted with a smile makes the experience much more memorable.

From a customer's perspective, two major factors contribute to a memorable experience: the quality of your product or service and great customer service provided by engaged brand ambassadors. But what exactly is a brand ambassador?

Employees can only become brand ambassadors when the organizational culture encourages them to believe in their product or service while striving to make each customer experience better than the one before it. Organizations that create opportunities to provide a painless business process are able to keep their customers engaged and loyal.

You might ask, 'What kind of organization wouldn't do that?' Unfortunately, many fall short. For an organization to transform its employees into brand ambassadors, it must first empower them with critical business information and many companies resist this idea. Think for a moment: how many times have you gone to a restaurant and asked for the soup of day, only to watch the waiter run to the kitchen to find out? How many times have you held up the line behind you at a grocery store because nobody had ever seen or heard of a particular promotion and did not know how to process your coupon? These are two mundane examples, but the list goes on and on and touches every industry in existence.

In reality, employee performance is directly related to the organizational training, support and level of empowerment they receive. A well-trained and empowered employee never says, 'That's not my job,' but rather, 'Let me find out how I can help you.' A customer-centric organizational culture begins with top-level management that believes in the practice and supports employees in creating outstanding customer experience - making every single employee an integral part of the organization's success.

In the aforementioned restaurant experience, a well-trained waiter would not only be able to answer your question about the soup of the day but also provide you with meal suggestions by explaining dishes based on your preferences. That same waiter could also guide you in selecting the right beverage to go with your meal. What makes the former experience significantly different from the latter is employee training, support and empowerment.

Empowered employees are proud to be part of the organization they work for and are committed to its success. In fact, empowerment is a lot more important to most employees than financial incentive. Most employees prefer to having a voice in their organization and contributing to its success to receiving contest prizes. For the majority of people, being satisfied with their jobs is more important in the long run.

Marketing, sales and customer service are intractably connected and should communicate the same message. However, many organizations fail to fully integrate them or to fully appreciate the importance of that connection. I once worked for a large organization that had their customer service department headed by the VP of Finance. Prior to that, I worked for a multinational organization that had separate marketing, sales and customer service departments that literally never met - we received memos. Examples such as these are indicative of a fundamental disconnect. In order for a company to provide outstanding service on every level, it must operate as a cohesive whole.

The truth is nobody likes to feel like just the next in line. We all appreciate and strive for painless business experience. Chances are, your marketing and sales departments have worked hard to bring potential customers through your door. What will convert them and keep them loyal, however, is the type of experience your organization is able to provide in person, on the phone and on the web. If you want loyal customers, you need to make their experience painless and make them feel special by transforming your employees into brand ambassadors.

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