A company's success depends on many things: from its range of products and services to competitive prices. But one aspect is regularly overlooked - the employees. The Gallup 'Brand Ambassador Index' shows how companies can gain competitive advantage via their staff.
Through their behaviour and communication, employees can significantly influence the impression that a customer has of a company. They represent their employer on a day to day basis and, among other things, ensure that its brand promises are met.
Many workers have customer contact at their workplace, most of them more than once a week. This is problematical when employees don't know exactly what their company stands for:
- 24 percent of employees in 2012 were identified as being apathetic - those who generally didn't know what their company stands for and something they also appear to be indifferent about.
- According to the study, employee alignment was greatest in the consumer packaged goods industry, where at least 73 percent strongly agreed that they know what makes their company different from its competitors.
A lack of brand awareness at the customer interface
There is a particular lack of brand awareness at lower levels in company hierarchies, where contact with customers takes place: it is often that non-managerial staff have regular customer contact, but only 37 percent of these employees know what their company stands for. Furthermore, 9 percent of other (non-executive, non-manager) employees said they do not understand their company’s brand promise and brand differentiation. In contrast, although 60 percent of executives know about their company's brand promises, they seldom have direct contact with customers.
The result: promises and reality are often worlds apart at the customer interface. This makes companies unable to deliver their brand promises, destroys trust in their brands and drives customers elsewhere. This is why companies should make specific use of their internal 'audience', i.e. their employees. Because, by delivering brand promises, employees ensure customer loyalty is established and developed; and win new customers by communicating brand promises.
But only employees whose needs and expectations are met, and who subsequently have a sense of belonging to the company, are able to promote the brand externally in a credible way. That's why companies should not neglect their most important marketing resource, available at no extra cost - their own employees.
Only satisfied employees recommend their employer
Another aspect: Employees who are not emotionally engaged are less likely to recommend their employer and its products within their own social circles. For employees who are not emotionally engaged, only few will have no hesitation in recommending their company’s products and services to family and friends. Although so-called 'referral marketing' is difficult to measure in monetary terms, it is nevertheless of significant importance to companies. Because, when purchasing something, customers tend to rely more on personal recommendations than classic advertising. Personal recommendations are considered to be more reliable because word-of-mouth cannot be stage-managed, and people who make such recommendations are prepared put their own reputation on the line.
This does not only apply to products and services, but also to HR marketing. Companies can position themselves as an attractive employer through active word-of-mouth promotion by their own staff. This aspect should not be underestimated, particularly in times of skill shortages and in view of demographic changes.
Customer loyalty through interaction with employees
Every contact someone has with an employee from a supplier forms part of the customer experience, which determines whether or not that person remains well-disposed towards the supplier. This means that value can be created or destroyed at the interface between your customers and employees. Customer loyalty is only possible where an emotional bond with the supplier is established. This is most likely to happen through interaction between employees and customers.
Customers expect attention and respect, something which they often don't receive. Customers often leave a shop without buying anything due to being upset about bad service. A big amount of customer loss is due to soft factors, because employees are not customer focussed. How often is it that a customer looks for a member of staff in a shop, only to find the employees chatting to one another in a corner - even giving the impression the customer is interrupting? Price, on the other hand, plays only a minor role in customer churn rates.
Curious how employees can help you recruit? Download our free ebook now and learn how to leverage the power of employee’s referrals.
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