What role do employees play in a brand’s customer experience?

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What is a 'customer experience?'

The brutal truth for any brand to face up to is that they all have a customer experience, whether they like it or not.

The choice is whether they manage it or not, and one of the biggest influencers on that experience are the people who interact with customers at each and every touch point; your employees.

We define the customer experience as the outcomes, both rationally and emotionally, the customer feels at each and every moment they interact with the brand.

So by choosing to manage the customer experience we must inspire and excite our people to deliver the brand at each and every touch point; whether this is via the design of digital interfaces or delivering through human contact.

The brutal truth for any brand to face up to is that they all have a customer experience, whether they like it or not.

Does your team reflect the fundamentals of your brand?

Never before has the role of the people in an organisation been so important to the delivery of a brand’s customer experience.

We now live in the new era of branding, where brands are defined by what they do and not what they say and so the actions of the team are fundamental to this, delivering tangible profit and future benefit through recommendation and social media amplification.

Michael Eisner of the Walt Disney Corporation produced for me, one of the most evocative descriptions of the role of people in a brand’s customer experience.

He described a brand as a picture painted in pointillist style – a technique in which small dots of colour are applied in patterns to create an image – with employees taking on the role of the artist, who is guided and stimulated by the brand.

When they are totally engaged and inspired they place a bright spot onto the picture making the whole brand more radiant and exciting. If they are disconnected or unenthused they add a grey spot making the brand duller, unattractive and lacking lustre.  

The brand is the product of a thousand small gestures.

In other words the people are absolutely at the heart of delivering irresistible customer experiences that build a brand, because everyone in the business is a brand builder in this new era.

The brand is the product of a thousand small gestures.

Delivering unforgettable customer experience

Ensuring that the teams throughout the business understand what their role is in the delivery of the customer experience is essential if they are to add those bright brand-inspired dots to the customer experience picture.

How we provide the platform from which they can contribute to building the brand is one of the exciting challenges for the HR teams, and will require new collaborations within the business.

These will have to cut across the traditional departments, and will see HR working with marketing and operations to deliver effective internal communications and training programmes to help the team’s delivery of the brand.

We always say that the key to successful alignment is how we make the customer feel.

If this is carried out well, not only will you create irresistible customer experiences but also a dynamic communication channel stimulated by the people who deliver the brand.

A brand defined by what they do, not what they say

Just ask the team at Aintree about the impact truly engaged employees had on their customers’ experience on Ladies Day, it lit up the social media channels.

Their team was hand-picked from across every department for their passion and drive as well as their desire to do the right things, differently.

We always say that the key to successful alignment is how we make the customer feel.

The re-working of the annual style award led us to move away from the classic fashion show walkway that Ladies Day at Aintree had become, to a live digital event that gave everyone that fabulous “Hollywood” experience.

The result was a huge increase in the social media amplification of the brand on the day.

So finding ways of inspiring and engaging your people is as brand critical as any other part of the alignment approach. Involving them in the planning for the delivery of the brand is therefore essential.

This must not be handed down from on high but built collaboratively with the people who, at the end of the day, face your customers day in and day out.

They know what works and doesn’t so trust them to help you make it even better.

Inspiration leads to natural brand amplification

Engaged and inspired people become brand amplifiers in the new era as they are right at the very touchpoints where the brand collides with its customers.

If they are uninspired we all know that they can be brand destroyers, so it’s a no brainer!

Just consider your everyday experiences with disinterested call centre employees; uninspired sales people and, worse of all, processes that make you do the hard work.

All of these lead us to look elsewhere for our experiences.

I sometimes think that we must be careful not to just focus on the “process” aspect of the customer experience but find great examples of how teams of people have so “got the brand” and become legends of it.

When it really works, your people become heroes not just of the company but on a larger, more influential scale within the digital space.

Consider the impact of the young man at McDonald’s who left his station to help feed a disabled man, and the famous response from the team at Sainsbury’s when a young customer pointed out their Tiger bread was more like a giraffe pattern so they renamed it Giraffe bread.

Finally the magical letter written by a team member to a 7 year old customer who had lost his Ninjago Lego figure.

These amazing people have been truly inspired to deliver, with the brand and its customers taking centre stage.

I think it’s fair to say all these people were painting very bright and vibrant spots on their brand’s picture.

About Andrew Stothert

Andrew Stothert, Brand Vista

Andrew is the CEO and one of the founding partners of Brand Vista. With over 30 years of brand experience on both client and agency side, he has a passion for helping clients grow through building genuinely differentiated brands that deliver a customer experience that becomes irrestible.

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11th Feb 2016 16:14

I couldn’t agree more with Andrew when he states that “engaged and inspired people become brand amplifiers….as they are right at the very touchpoints where the brand collides with its customers.” Engaged staff are critical to a company’s success and many organisations already seek to drive engagement through a range of established HR processes. However, to embed employee engagement strategically across a business, as Andrew says, it’s imperative that HR moves beyond the traditional approach and integrates with areas including marketing, sales and customer service, ensuring it reaches EVERY employee level and EVERY customer to employee touchpoint.

We are seeing many more instances where organisations are now combining employee engagement practices with customer experience measurement to brings about results that are greater than the sum of their individual parts – most notably being able to recognise customer feedback patterns that map to employee insight, and so can drive strategic change across the business. This VoCE approach – Voice of the Customer through the Employee – is something we see gaining rapid traction as businesses seek to ensure they achieve the goal that Andrew clearly defines of employing “amazing people…truly inspired to deliver, with the brand and its customers taking centre stage.”

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22nd Feb 2016 09:47

I really like the way you explained the employees role.

Employees play a very major role in serving better customer experience.

If employees are dedicated to their company then they will try everything to make their customer satisfied with their services and never want them to leave your services.

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