Every person in your organization is telling your story. Paid, volunteer, happy or disgruntled, everyone matters when it comes to your brand’s perception. People talk about brand management like it’s something a highly paid executive carefully orchestrates from the company’s headquarters. But more often than not, managing a brand’s perception is left to those at the front lines of contact, such as hourly sales workers or volunteers. Millions of dollars in advertisement cannot overcome a poorly trained or unhappy minimum-wage employee.A while back, I went to the Guess store looking for a shirt. The store was somewhat busy, but soon a helpful sales lady opened a dressing room for me and brought me several shirts she she wanted me to try on. Through the course of the conversation, she asked about my jeans preference and brought me 4 or 5 pairs to try. Beth was great at her job. When something didn’t fit well, she immediately would say, “no, I don’t like that on you.” Soon, what was to be my single shirt purchase had grown into two shirts, a sweater and a pair of jeans.
I left the Guess store feeling good ready to buy some news shoes to match my new purchases. I knew my next stop would have to be the Kenneth Cole store. My experience could have not been any more different. The store was empty of customers with all three sales people standing by the small counter in the middle of the space talking and bobbing their heads to a techno beat–think “Night at the Roxbury.” No one seem to notice me, my large bag of purchases or the fact I was trying on several different pairs of shoes. As I matter of fact, when I asked one of the head-bobbing employees a question about their merchandise, I felt as if I were rudely interrupting their conversation. A great product and brand was tarnished because of poorly trained and managed employees making near minimum wage.
Think about your organization and the people you have at the front lines. Are they contributing to the brand promise you’re trying so hard to build, or are they working against you? Are the greeters at the parking lot creating that great first impression for your church, or are they yelling at the people for parking in the wrong spot, as someone did to me recently? (I wrote about it here) What about the person who answers your telephone? Have you thought of the tone of emails coming out of your organization? Sometimes people don’t realize how short or impatient they come across on their correspondence.
Remember: every exchange matters. Every communication defines your brand, specially the ones at the front lines.
How’s the quality control at your front line?