You Are the Message Weekly Newsletter December 21, 2015
Companies spend money on advertising, web sites, time on Facebook, flyers, etc. Why do so few understand branding their employees? If each of your employees can’t deliver your brand so the customer gets it, you are wasting your most valuable form of advertising and your customer facing connection. Each time an employee connects with a customer, the customer should walk away with more reasons to keep doing business with you. The customer should ‘feel’ your company and belong.
Strategically teach your employees your brand and convert them to it. Help them learn to sell your brand every time they connect with anyone. Everyone they meet should understand your brand and your creation story. Why you are in business, what you do for your customers and why you bring value to them.
Use your most valuable tools, your employees, to bring the greatest value to your business. Steps to Start Moving Your Company Brand in the Right Direction Employee education – Make sure your employees fully understand the products and services you provide, and that they always provide the appropriate answer to common customer questions.
Telephone protocol – Have each person at your company trained to answer and respond to telephone calls in the same manner. Call your company every once and awhile pretending to be a customer to hear what your customers hear.
Tell your company story – Everyone involved with your company should know why you are in business and what makes your company great at what it does, your creation story. When a staff member encounters a new customer, make it part of the intake process to tell your company story. This will help the customer understand more about your company and feel a greater sense of familiarity.
Remove the word “no” from your company’s vocabulary – While it’s true that you can’t be all things to all people (in fact, you should do the opposite), customers don’t like being told “no.” Instead of saying, “we don’t do that here,” train your employees to offer helpful alternatives or suggestions when your customers ask for something you don’t offer, even if that means sending them to your competition.
Be predictable – If a customer expects something from your company, make sure you deliver it. I see independent restaurants and retail businesses closed during what I consider “normal” business hours all the time. If people expect your business to be open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., make sure you’re store is open during those hours every day. If you have to take Sundays or Mondays off for your own sanity, hire someone else to run your business during that time.
Be reliable – Your customers expect to receive the same treatment and service each time they interact with your organization. Make sure this is true, and make sure these interactions are phenomenal.
Ask questions – If you receive a compliment or a complaint from one of your customers or staff members, don’t just accept it at face value. Ask what was good or bad about the situation and ask how you can improve your service the next time. Note: you want to improve your service even if it’s a compliment!
Call your customers by name, always thank them for their business and appreciate them for their continued support.
Listen to your staff – Small business owners often make the mistake of thinking they have all the answers. Frequently it is your staff that is in the trenches with your customers, and they might have better solutions to problems than you do.
Stay in touch – When customers are thrilled with your product or service, make sure you have a way to stay in touch with them. Depending on your business, this could mean adding their name to a mailing or email list to receive coupons; inviting them to special events that your business hosts; or sending them regular correspondence via email or post with information about your industry. Note: the point here is to make a soft sell by educating your customers about your business, not to make a hard sell and abuse your customer’s trust.
Be trustworthy - If you make a promise to your customers, no matter how small, make sure you follow through 110% and be transparent in the process. If your organization cannot accommodate someone to the extent they are asking you to, don’t make the promise, and instead offer a helpful alternative.
Bonus Branding Tip: Empower your employees to be able to handle the majority of customer situations on their own. Create a framework for employee training that teaches them how to solve unique situations and customer problems on their own.
The bottom line is that customers prefer consistent service and knowledgeable staff above just about anything else (even great design). Before you invest in design work with the goal of bringing more customers in your doors, make sure your staff is ready to make those newcomers customers for life.
Why You Should Wear a Watch There is one piece of jewelry that every professional should include in their business wardrobe, a great watch. Many professionals say that they don't wear watches because they just use their cell phones to tell the time. I understand that, but picture this scenario: If you are in a client meeting, a networking event, or at a job interview and you need to check the time, do you pat yourself down trying to find your phone, pull it out and place it between you and your client, an act that takes a least a minute? Or grab your purse and dig through it until you find it? Again placing technology between you and someone you are trying to connect with and impress? Those around you will probably assume that you are checking to see if you have received any phone calls or texts, and this is likely to be perceived as rude. Conversely, a nice watch can actually enhance your professional appearance if you wear it to an interview or a business networking event. It can make an interesting conversation piece. A professional chooses their accessories very carefully. They never detract from their professional appearance and their accessories support their professional impression, not detract from it. Granted, you may still argue that there are time keeping devices around us at all times, including computers and televisions. But do these devices have the same personal and aesthetic value as a wristwatch? They most certainly do not. Yes, watches keep time, but they also say something about you. They are a classic accessory. A watch is an accessory with versatility as well; the right watch is one that you can wear to an interview, or to a golf outing. Some watches are more formal than others, however even a formal watch can be incorporated into your everyday wardrobe. Choose a watch that makes a statement. A watch tells people you choose your accessories with care and know value and quality. That you have chosen a timepiece that will last a lifetime.
“Professionalism is knowing what to do, how to do it and doing it.” Frank Tyler
Ellen Reddick, is a consultant, writer, and former senior executive with more than 25 years of experience in the technology industry. She is the managing partner of Impact Factory Utah a firm that provides strategic consulting, executive coaching, and speaking services to CEOs and management teams of small-to-mid-sized companies. She brings a broad base of experience in people management, sales, process improvement, customer service training, project management, mediation and facilitation.