Marketing Monday: How do your employees represent you?

You can start communicating your expectations right in your job posting, as in this French Quarter helped wanted sign looking for a server. Photo by Bryan Nabong, used under Creative Commons terms.

You can start communicating your expectations right in your job posting, as in this French Quarter helped wanted sign looking for a server. Photo by Bryan Nabong, used under Creative Commons terms.

What’s your philosophy toward customer service?

If you’re like most business owners or managers, your first thought was probably something like, “Without our customers, we wouldn’t be in business, so we value them and their needs” or maybe, “We want to give our customers a truly exceptional experience and exceed their expectations.”

With so many mission statements aspiring to surprise and delight the customer with superior quality and service, why do I get so many lackluster experiences as a customer?

Waitstaff I have to hail like a cab to ask for something forgotten, staffers who glare at me as though I am an unwelcome intrusion, customer support that seems designed to wear me down from the long wait rather than solve my problem?

I’m sure the reasons are many, from cost cutting to turnover in front-line jobs. But I think at least one factor is managers forgetting how those lofty mission statements get translated to reality — through the people who are actually the face of the business for the rest of us.

Maybe the president of the company cares deeply about the business, but if the only person I interact with is the person who takes my phone calls, will that same caring come through?

In most Marketing Monday posts, I write about how to tell your company’s story on social media or in the media, for example. But you can tweet 10 times a day that you love your customers and if your employees don’t carry it out creating quality products or taking good care of your customers, you’re probably fighting an uphill battle.

So don’t neglect your internal communications when you’re selling that vision of a superior experience.

It starts with hiring. I recently heard someone say bluntly, if you want employees who love their jobs, hire people who want to do what you want them to do. Communicate clearly in your job postings and your job interviews what your expectations are and what doing it well will look like.

Then keep reinforcing that, whether it’s through clear, complete training that gives new hires the skills and information to do their jobs well, consistent feedback (not just perfunctory reviews) that lets them know how they’re doing, and public praise for those hitting the mark.

Don’t just market your message of superior service outside. Continually communicate it internally, too. Can you use email, your intranet, your bulletin board, your staff meetings to continually reinforce your big goals with specific examples of what that looks like to you?

You won’t have to tell me so often on Facebook how superior your service is if your employees take good care of me.

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy.  She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.

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Categories: career

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