Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions

Mary Arendes, SVP, Business Development and Customer Experience, New Era Portfolio | 3/26/2012 | 14 comments

Mary Arendes
We regularly survey customers to gauge how satisfied they are with our brand, products, and services, but what about the internal customer experience? I wonder whether we overlook that it’s our employees who deliver the offerings and brand promise to our external customers, and -- whether back-end or customer-facing -- each employee touches the customer at some point.

Today, more and more organizations are learning about the strong correlation between employee and customer satisfaction. We understand that it’s just not rewards, recognition, and the working environment that increase employee satisfaction -- but what are other key facets of the internal customer experience we should consider?

Employee satisfaction
Our annual employee satisfaction survey, which focuses on development, retention, and morale, is one way to distinguish what is working well and what needs to improve.

Survey results have enabled us to identify and implement a number of “experience improving” initiatives centered around:

  • Setting individual goals that align with overall strategic pillars and customer expectations to enable workers to realize their full potential
  • Providing proper training, development, information, and tools to help employees meet their every-day deliverables
  • Establishing a sense of being heard, a feeling of belonging, autonomy, and self-efficacy
  • Supporting work/life balance to minimize stress and drive higher performance/service levels

Employee perceptions about their organization are reflected in the way they deliver products and services to customers. And it’s no surprise that satisfied workers are more likely to support and champion the organization they work for.

So, how do we build these brand champions? Brand advocacy largely depends on a solid employee-centric culture and begins with organizations continually recognizing employees’ true value and contributions. However, besides the obvious ways to foster employee satisfaction (listed above), employers have another opportunity.

Internal communication
Building a robust internal communication strategy that includes regular leadership messaging around motivation, satisfaction, and effectiveness can significantly instill a sense of brand ownership. Some ways to encourage employees to promote the brand on behalf of the company are by:

  • Providing opportunities to talk about the brand via direct and indirect customer engagements (e.g., internal and external customer engagement programs including social media, executive briefings, callbacks, and onsite customer visits)
  • Prioritizing and leveraging different communication venues to build thought leadership (email, town halls, internal networking channels, etc.) because access to information varies, depending on employees’ roles and responsibilities as well as personal preferences.
  • Promoting information and knowledge sharing (transparent, honest, and real-time communication about the organization, business, and leadership)
  • Emphasizing the importance to take time to share (social media training)

Long-term customer loyalty is, in part, a result of consistent interaction between our team members and our customers. It stems from feeling that one’s own contribution has a direct impact on achieving the company’s goals and mission; hence each individual recognizes that he or she is a valuable company asset. As such, it is essential to create employee advocates who live the brand.

So tell me, do you agree that true customer experience begins at the heart of the organization? How does your organization build internal customer advocates? Enhance brand thought leadership? Drive motivation?

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nasimson   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   4/30/2012 1:22:33 PM
Re: Driving Motivation
As far as effectiveness is concerned, I think utilizing each employees skills is very important. Often employees feel under utilized or feel that the work they've assigned doesn't do justice to their abilities, which leads to employee resentment. Checks need to be put to insure that employee are being assigned work they desire and feel passionate about, so that they get behind the company aims completely and feel acknowledged.
Henrisha   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   4/2/2012 4:15:24 AM
Re: Driving Motivation
Mary makes a lot of fine points here. It's just like how word-of-mouth works or when people make personal recommendations to other people. If something is so good that it encourages them to speak up about it (and talk about good things), then it's more likely to convince other people to go with it or go for it because there's a huge chance that it could and is true.

This can go both ways, as what Kicheko mentioned. If it's the dirty laundry that gets aired out by disgruntled employees, then the company must have a good plan ready to be carried out to do damage control.
impactnow   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/31/2012 5:10:43 PM
Re: Driving Motivation

Exactly even if a complaint is false is may dissuade a potentially great employee from working at an organization.

kicheko   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/31/2012 12:10:19 PM
Re: Driving Motivation
@Mary....I have to mention something else about employee satisfaction. The story of Greg smith of Goldman sachs.....disgruntled employees can do a lot of damage. They can bring down what the company has built for several years. The story could be true or false but the damage is the same.
JPoe   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/30/2012 2:10:09 PM
Re: Brand Neutral better than dangerous
The reall challenge here is to determine the lengths you are willing to go in trying to accomodate unhappy employees. Obviously, there are a huge number of reasons for employees (people) to become unhappy. Companies and managers can affect only a given percentage of issues.

I'm aware of cases in which people have been over-accomdated (for a variety of reasons). And the outcome was not what anyone wanted.

I believe that it's important that companies make reasonable and sincere efforts at improving the circumstances for all employees. Beyond that.... Well, you know.
impactnow   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/29/2012 10:13:03 PM
Brand Neutral better than dangerous

 

Especially in the day and age of the web a disgruntled employee can do incredible harm to your brand and your ability to recruit talented employees through posting on job related websites. Its good business to try and address disgruntled employees and make them neutral if not happy.

mary@dell   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/28/2012 5:50:09 PM
Re: Driving Motivation
@Syedzunair, @tekedge, @Taimoor Zubair, @DBK, thanks so much for your feedback especially appreciate the part about purchasing our products "many times and the experience has always been positive, you must be doing something right." You know that's my team's mission, so you've made my day!

I think we're all in general agreement about employee satisfaction translating to customer advocacy. My purpose at Dell is promoting Customer Advocacy around Enterprise products and solutions. Meanwhile I manage a team of six individuals. As a manager, I am rated on the employee satisfaction survey I espouse in the blog. And my success as a manager is dependent in part on my survey scores.

Note that I have just finished performance reviews with my employees – who represent a range of job grades and have received the gamut of ratings. So although we're talking about a small sample, it should be somewhat representative of a diverse population. I think we'll discover whether 1) I'm an effective manager; 2) my own employees are truly aligned with our mission; 3) my employees are true brand advocates. To demonstrate that I do practice what I recommend on my blog, I propose sharing my employee satisfaction survey results as soon they come out – likely late May or early June.

A final caveat: this has been a start-up year for my team with many changes and not a little drama. Although I've received positive scores in past roles, I am expecting some angst... Nonetheless, I look forward to sharing my overall ratings – positive or negative - so stay tuned for my upcoming blog about "Manager Assimilation!"
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syedzunair   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/28/2012 2:15:31 PM
Re: Driving Motivation
@kicheko: I agree a content employee will inevitably speak for the brand. Another thing that I would like to highlight is that employees especially BM's need to be careful about their brands in the public. 

I remember an incident where a friend was caught in public wearing a shirt of a competitor. Although, it was all in a light mood but it might be detrimental for the brand in the long run. 

Since, people associate personalities with brans easily it is essential for BM's to adopt to the persona of their brand. And to ensure that always remain loyal to it in public so as to portray a positive image of the brand. 
kicheko   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/28/2012 7:53:38 AM
Re: Driving Motivation
Syedzunair,

Additionally, employees are the brand ambassadors since the employers themselves cannot come into contact with each customer. This makes a content employee the best asset a business will have. If they are happy, they own the brand and sell it wholeheartedly and to the customer it shows.
tekedge   Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions   3/27/2012 10:09:47 PM
Satisfied Employees Become Your Brand Champions
i agree with you because no matter what type of organization you are, the internal synergy,motivation and satisfaction levels of the employees, portrays  the overall confidence and act as the  heart of the organization and there by as brand champions.
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