By Joy Abdullah
Brand experience has a far greater impact on business success than advertising the brand does.
In my last post I wrote about the necessity of getting the customers’ attention in ensuring a profitable business. Once the brand is successful in getting attention the experience it provides comes into play.
Employees play a vital role in delivering this experience.
Getting your employees to live your brand values improves your customers’ brand experience and creates a positive impact financially to the business.
Customers’ brand experience is very critical to any business. It’s the ingredient that generates referrals and continuous sales. A key area where this experience is either strengthened or destroyed is the way the brand’s stakeholders–consumers, partners and vendors– perceive the employees of the brand they interact with. Employee behaviour creates the brand experience and it’s key to have engaged advocates.
But this is exactly where organisations fail to take into account their culture, as a key input into the behaviour of employees, in generating positive brand experience.
An organisation where the leadership lives the values through behaviour and empowers employees through strategic clarity of business purpose and open communication creates a culture that inspires and motivates employees to deliver quality output on time. This occurs because the employee likes going to work every day, learns, is appreciated and lives the brand values. The strong teamwork, high morale and positivity creates an authentic environment which is projected in interactions by the brand with its customers’, vendors and partners. This interaction becomes the emotional experience that drives business profitability.
The route to building effective brand advocacy is through clarity on the culture in play. Here are four ways to identify, articulate and implement an effective engagement program that creates positive employee advocacy:
Identify the culture in play: Every organisation has a culture code. This code is based on the organizational ethics, norms, operating systems and processes that leaders and employees constantly embrace and model, promote and foster. Identify this culture, articulate it as a culture statement, that is a collection of attributes that when combined sums up the ethos of how employees behave and the organization is perceived and highlights the business purpose and the overall role of employees towards that purpose.
Engage and internalise with employees: Reach out to the employees in the culture identification process and engage them in contributing their perspective on the existing culture and values. Clearly show the linkage of the values to individual work functions and show how not projecting these values affects the brand and, in turn, the negative impact on the bottom-line and to individual performance rewards.
Get employees involved: Have the employees write, in their own words, how they would project the values themselves and thereby project the culture internally and externally. Identify and have a few champions, or culture leaders, who will police the cultural implementation.
Measure it: Have a pre-agreed, measurable, performance indicator and ensure that each employee understands that his/her performance will affect the organization as a whole and that he/she is accountable.
Starting this is the easy part. Keeping the momentum going is extremely important and critical. This is where a structured internal communications programme is a must. At regular intervals highlight employee achievements, and provide recognition and reward. Over time the social pressure of quality performance will come to bear within the ranks.
Employees are the heart of the brand and their performance and achievement gives an organisation a common cause that all can align with. Knowing their contributions can have an impact is a huge emotional driver for people and creates conversation points through which engagement occurs and desired behavioural change is manifested.
From the brand’s perspective it’s this behaviour that provides a positive brand experience, strengthens relationships with all stakeholders and creates sustainability and profitability for the business.