In the 17 years I’ve been designing customer experiences, I’ve found that almost all businesses have the raw talent in their employees to deliver a branded experience – it’s the job of the company to unlock that potential. In seeking to achieve this, I use 3 simple rules to help engage employees into ‘living the brand’:
1) Prioritise Customer Needs – whilst it’s tempting to just be enthusiastic and ask employees to ‘delight the customer’ – that isn’t actually that helpful. At worst, they’re no closer to knowing how to do this at all, and at best, where they should start. So give your employees sufficient insight into what customers value most. Use customer research to find these factors, and make sure you bite-size the findings into punchy statements with clear examples to follow.
2) Offer A Brand Framework – Employees may be willing, creative and hardworking, but to make the delivery of your brand consistent and distinctive, they need to anchor their activities into what the brand stands for. The framework style itself is less important – we’ve seen brand wheels, temples, pillars, and compasses – whatever. Just ensure that it visualises what the brand believes in, and the behaviours it encourages. Make this simple to remember, and employees will embrace and express it in their everyday tasks.
3) Give Permission – it sounds obvious, but giving explicit permission to employees as individuals to be the brand is a central part of making a customer experience authentic. I prefer to use the word ‘permission’ rather than ‘empower’ simply because of consistent feedback from employees themselves. They talk about feeling confident to act “knowing I won’t get into trouble” or that “I’m OK to do this”. Whichever word or phrase you choose, make sure the intent is obvious to your employees – don’t assume they will naturally seek to interpret the brand without active encouragement.
With these 3 rules in place, you can have confidence that employees will get involved, stay on message and are far more likely to enjoy their job. Better yet, this leads to bottom-line benefits such as low staff turnover, higher morale which in turn reduces recruitment costs, training costs and absenteeism. And at the top line, engaged employees make for happier, more loyal customers, fuelling revenue growth and marketing efficiency.
For any CEO who has successfully grown their business by developing their people, they will know that the secret is brand engagement, not brand induction.