I’m excited to have Erica Moss, a super smart community manager, guest post on my blog today. Erica Moss is the community manager for the online Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, with one of the nation’s leading nurse practitioner programs. Outside of work, Erica is passionate about Instagram, Taylor Swift and her English bulldog, Mona. Follow her on Twitter (@ericajmoss).
Yeah, yeah — we’ve heard it all before, right? It’s an oft-touted message, but one that bears repeating: Every employee in your company — from the customer service rep to the CEO — impacts your brand and, ultimately, your bottom line.
This was apparent most recently when I encountered a less-than-friendly MTA employee (the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is responsible for public transportation in New York, specifically, the Subway system I use every day). I guess she was holding the train for me as I approached the turnstile, but as I got closer, she started to taunt me.
Perhaps she was having a bad day. Perhaps she didn’t think I could hear her because I had my headphones in. Whatever the reasoning, it wasn’t professional, and it certainly didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy about riding in her train for the next 80 blocks.
Unfortunately, in this particular situation, I can’t take my business elsewhere. I don’t think anyone else is going to tackle building a new Subway system anytime soon, so I’m forced to simply grin and bear it. But if the circumstances were different, if I had had the same encounter at, say, a restaurant or retailer, you better believe it would be a different story.
A few takeaways:
People are finicky. With most products and services just a click away, competition is fierce and customer retention is — or should be — a top priority for businesses big and small. Word-of-mouth is even more powerful than it was even 10 years ago with tools like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and more at a customer’s disposal. They expect to talk to a human being, and they expect
to have their concerns or issues resolved quickly and efficiently. As a customer, I know I want to have the same experience at every touchpoint, whether I’m talking to you on the phone or tweeting a question at you on Twitter from 1,000 miles away. Having an impeccable product or service is key, but be willing to back it up with an equally awesome experience.
Fostering a culture of employees who want to do right by customers is paramount in the long-term growth of your business. As a business owner, it’s important to go out of your way to demonstrate that you appreciate your team’s extra efforts, whether that’s a monetary incentive or otherwise. Companies like Zappos serve as important reminders of how great customer service can translate into happy customers who sing your praises. And in 2009, Amazon.com acquired Zappos in a deal worth about $1.2 billion.
Warby Parker also does a great job of this through their social presence — I get the impression that the people behind the scenes love what they do and truly care about my experience with the brand because they continuously engage before, during and after the purchase. Business Insider just named the company one of “10 start-ups to bet your career on,” and Yelp users have collectively given their experience a 4.5 out of 5 stars. These are just two examples of great products and great service yielding positive results.
Continue to empower and educate well beyond the initial training process. If you want every employee in your company to take ownership of your brand, throwing an employee handbook at them when they’re first hired probably isn’t going to leave a lasting impression. From the onset, create an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable asking questions from the very basic to the strategic, and present them with opportunities for professional development, whether that’s a local conference, a Dale Carnegie sales training course, or simply a book like “Linchpin” by Seth Godin.
It isn’t rocket science to deduce that a more invested, more engaged employee will better represent your company when he or she is in a public-facing capacity, thereby improving interactions with those who keep you in business. The worst thing you can do is assume that everyone understands the company’s protocols and expectations, and simply coast through that aspect of your business. The trickle-down impact of that could, ultimately, negatively impact your bottom line.
Don’t leave your brand identity up to chance — and don’t let someone tarnish a reputation you’ve worked so hard to establish. Be proactive in your quest to create a company that people want to work for, and that consumers want to buy from.
What are some ways you’ve succeeded in empowering employees who take ownership over your brand?