Dear Entrepreneur, Customers Remember Experiences, Not Your Brand Logo

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Most businesses spend big money testing their brand logo, catchy marketing phrases, and demographics, but spend little time training and validating that their employees can and do deliver memorable experiences to their customers.

steve jobs. Customers Remember Experiences

The customer experience is really your brand, since that is what customers remember and communicate to others, rather than your marketing. Thus the real challenge in building your brand is building the level of engagement and delivery of your team. Gregg Lederman, in his latest book, “ENGAGED!: Outbehave Your Competition to Create Customers for Life,” offers eight key principles for defining and managing the experience to keep it consistent and profitable:

  1. KEEP EVERY EMPLOYEE ON STAGE, delivering an experience. At work, all team members (everyone who gets paid for doing a job at the company) are on stage responsible for delivering a branded experience to co-workers and customers. They have to outbehave and outperform your competition. Is your team performing like they are on Broadway?

  2. KEEP YOUR TEAM HAPPY TO CREATE ENGAGED CUSTOMERS. An unhappy team member can’t create an engaged customer. Yet less than half of the people working today claim to be satisfied and happy at work. How many of your employees would say that what they think, what they say and what they do are in harmony? Money does not buy engagement.

  3. DON’T JUST ANNOUNCE YOUR CULTURE, MAKE IT VISIBLE. Your mission, values, brand positioning, and guiding principles are invisible, unless your employees know specifically how to act them out through their day-to-day behaviour. You have to define these behaviours, measure them, and reward them. Walking the talk is the place to start.

  4. FOCUS ON CULTURE CHANGE RATHER THAN CULTURE TALK. Culture is changed by how we act (perform) and interact (employees and customers). Define and document a common mindset and make related behaviours non-negotiable. Everyone must know and do these things consistently. The secret to success is 1% training and 99% reminding.

  5. TURN COMMON SENSE INTO COMMON PRACTICE. The only true employee-driven measure of whether the workforce is “living the brand” is the perspective of others in each work area. Use a company-wide assessment at least twice a year to understand and remind the team to ‘outbehave’ the competition. No more gamed employee satisfaction surveys.

  6. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS AND STOP SURVEYING CUSTOMERS. Every senior leader needs to have regular quality conversations with customers. These enable leaders to learn firsthand about how the company is living the brand and when it is not. Relationships will get referrals, drive more sales, and build loyalty. Use the feedback to improve and grow.

  7. ENCOURAGE ENGAGEMENT WITH TRAINING AND RECOGNITION, RATHER THAN REWARDS. Employees get much greater value from the power of recognition and much less from the actual rewards. Reward programs don’t drive sustainable culture change or business results. Provide recognition for the right behaviours consistently, and the results will accrue.

  8. BUILD TRUST IN YOU AS THE LEADER BY MANAGING THE EXPERIENCE. Without solid leadership people simply won’t follow. Earn trust by making the right experience a part of the day-to-day conversation, and remind people by your actions what you expect. Demonstrate a culture of responsibility and accountability.

Lack of engagement is very expensive. Overall, successful start-ups and world-class companies are known to have fiercely loyal customers driven by fully-engaged team members, resulting in proactive referrals and more purchases. That’s the brand you want, and it needs minimal focus on the logo and advertising to survive and out-perform your competition. How would you rate your culture and brand today?

By Martin Zwilling, culled from Forbes.com

What do you think? For instance, do the big corporates who invest so much in media campaigns deliver a commensurate customer experience and engagement? What about your thriving start-up? Is the focus on brand or a rewarding employee-customer relationship?

© 2015 – 2017, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.

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