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Mind the gap

Annie Mariya Sam,    12 Dec 2013
Mind the gap

On almost any given day, social media details some shocking examples of how employees have broken the promises their brands make. From Dave Caroll’s literal “broken promise” experience in “United breaks guitars” to the video of Domino’s employees purposefully contaminating pizzas, lousy customer experiences have caused serious consequences for brands across virtually all industries.

Today’s consumers can watch every move a brand makes thanks to social media, and they immediately react when they sense a disconnection between what a brand promises and what it delivers. All too often that disconnection traces back to an employee’s action. Inadvertent or intentional, such action causes damage.

In the race to focus on customer engagement and garner “Likes,” brands often seem to place employee engagement with the brand on the back burner. They seem to forget that the strongest brands are built from the inside out.

The answer? Brands must equip their front-line employees with the right know-how and tools to deliver on the brand promises and customer expectations at every touch point. Brands must ensure that all employees—from sales to customer support and in between—understand what the brand stands for, its products, and its services.

Brands can reap manifold benefits by aligning the internal stakeholders with the brand’s vision. A study conducted in the UK by Engage for Success found that companies with engagement scores in the top quartile enjoyed 12 percent higher customer advocacy. The scores were calculated based on four criteria:

• The ability of top management to provide a strong strategic narrative about the company
• The ability of managers to coach their teams to expand their scope
• The importance given to the employees’ voice
• The company’s integrity towards its own values

This clearly shows that brands can reap direct business benefits by making employees aware of the brand promise and the importance of their role in keeping it. With proper training and reinforcement, they can become brand ambassadors as they interact with customers.

For customers, good brand experiences matter more than great brand promises; delivering the right experiences to your customer depends on your employees. That’s why brands have to make their employees’ brand commitment as strong as the brand itself.

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