What Happens When All of Your Employees Know How to Deliver Your Brand Promise

Sue, Bill, and Cathy

Sue, Bill, and Cathy

Do all of your employees who deal with your customers, clients, or patients understand your brand promise and how to deliver it or…

Do you have pockets of excellence and pockets of mediocrity?

Awhile back, the employees at a collision repair shop, Prime Collision, a division of the Prime Auto Group in Maine, reminded me of how rare—and powerful—it is for all employees in a businesses to deliver a consistent brand message and customer experience.

My experience came about because of a rather embarrassing collision with a lamp post…in my driveway.

As I backed up, thinking about the seminar I was driving to and wondering if I had time to stop for a Starbucks, my musings were stopped short by the sickening crunch of a crumpling bumper and the sound of shattering glass.

How Much Hassle Am I In For?

As I drove to the client’s site, I wondered how I was going to find the time to set into motion my auto repair plans during this packed day. Because it had been so long—fortunately—since I had had an accident, I couldn’t remember how time consuming or complex the process was.

During a break in my seminar, I called my insurance company rep, who told me how the process worked and that my next step was to choose a collision shop to get an estimate.

Since I’m 100% Satisfied With Them, I’ll Go There

Since I had a 100% positive experience with the auto dealership I had purchased and subsequently serviced my Honda Accord, Prime Auto, I figured I would save myself time and effort scouting out possible collision repair shops by sticking with what was familiar. It wasn’t just that it was familiar, though. I called them because they had consistently provided me with positive customer experiences.

This is an important point to reflect on. Because they had delivered a consistently positive experience in the past, I didn’t bother to go shopping for alternatives.

Do you deliver the kind of consistent experience that would elicit that kind of response from your customers?

During my next break I called their collision center. The lady who answered the phone, Cathy, sounded friendly and professional. She had the perfect blend of calm friendliness without being overly familiar or casual.

Such a balanced presentation is especially important when a business deals with people in crisis. It puts the customer at ease, starts to create an emotional bond, and communicates a professional, “you’re in good hands” image.

Cathy told me that if could get there by 5:30, they  could get me an estimate and start the ball rolling.

After I hung up, I thought “This is going to be easier than I expected.”

I made it to the collision shop with time to spare and was greeted in person with a friendly smile by Cathy. When I started to describe my story, she responded  “Oh…we talked earlier”.

Customers Pick Up on the “Little Things” Even If They Don’t Comment On Them

Even though that might seem like a small thing, it felt comforting to know that I was talking with the same person I had talked with earlier. To me, her remembering and acknowledging that we had talked meant that she cared and wasn’t simply in “customer service autopilot”… as are many people.

Cathy introduced me to Sue, their Repair Process Manager. Again, I found myself dealing with someone who was a perfect combination of friendly and professional.

 

Why This Combination is So Important When You Deal With Anxious Customers

Think of times when you were a customer venturing into foreign territory, such as dealing with the healthcare system, legal system, or the automotive realm, and recall how vulnerable you felt.

You needed their help and… you didn’t know how to judge whether they knew what they were doing, could be trusted, or cared about being helpful.

Because of this, you felt vulnerable and somewhat at their mercy.  Because of this, you were especially sensitive to any potential clues that might let you know if you were in good hands.

More specifically, you probably looked for clues that answered the following questions:

  • Can this person and business be trusted?
  • Do they really understand my situation?
  • Can I count on them to take my situation seriously?
  • Do they know what they’re doing?

This is why it is SO important that you teach your customer service team to practice extreme mindfulness when interacting with new customers in distress. They are hypersensitive to any potential clues and even little mistakes can result in a “No” answer to any of the above questions.

Little Things Can Make a Big Impression

When I told Cathy that my rear blinker wasn’t working, and my concern about being stopped by a policeman before my car got repaired, she said “Let’s see if we can get someone to replace your bulbs”. She rounded up a technician who went out to my car, installed bulbs, and taped up the cracked areas of the tail light, so rain wouldn’t get in and cause the bulbs to shatter when they heated up from use.

In a matter of minutes, I was “street legal” and ready to hit the road.

Even though fixing my bulbs might seem like a little thing, it was one less thing to worry about and their doing it at no charge also added to the good feeling our interactions had created.

Easy-ButtonAs I drove off, I found myself marveling at how easy and simple this process was, so different from what I had anticipated.

A couple of days later, after Prime Collision and the auto insurance company adjuster connected, I received a call from Sue updating me and letting me know they had the green light to proceed at the agreed upon price.

How to Take Charge Without Being Pushy

“I don’t want to sound pushy, but if you would like to proceed, if we start the process now, I can order the part today and we can schedule you for Monday,” she said.

As someone who consults in, and teaches, customer service, I pay close attention to how service providers phrase requests and recommendations. Her phrasing was, to me, the perfect combination of providing appropriate guidance and not sounding overly eager or pushy.

We proceeded with the repair. Every touch point thereafter continued to communicate “We care about our customers” and “We’re easy to deal with”.

Even the man who drove me to pick up my rental car while mine was being repaired delivered the same friendly, customer-centric experience that I received from Sue and Cathy.

How to Leave Your Customers With a Brand-Building Emotional and Perceptual Take Away

My experience left me with the kind of “Emotional Take Away” you want customers to carry with them. When I think of Prime Collision, the smiling faces and helpful, professional, easy-to-work- with people there, it brings up a warm fondness.

My experience also left me with the kind of “Perceptual Take Away” you want your employees and your customer experiences to create. These include:

  1. These people can be trusted to have my best interest at heart.
  2. These people know what they’re doing; they’re real professionals.
  3. They care about delivering great service and will work with me to make sure I’m satisfied.
  4. They’re fun to do business with.

 

You Can’t Afford to Have Superstars and Slackers When It Comes to Service

Because the people at Prime consistently delivered the kind of service that led to these Emotional and Perceptual Take Aways, I didn’t have mixed feelings or conflicting attitudes toward this business, as is often the case with businesses because of their inconsistent customer service.

prime cust satWhen your service is inconsistent, when some employees are very customer-centric and others aren’t, and when some processes are customer-friendly and others aren’t, it creates mixed, conflicting attitudes and feelings in your customers.

This is why it’s so important to make sure everybody knows what your brand promise is, and how they can deliver it, and…why it’s important to examine your processes for their customer-friendliness.

A Key Point to Notice

Did you notice that the above story does not contain any mind-blowing, over-the-top dramatic behaviors by the team at Prime. They simply delivered consistently the kind of customer experience someone in a stressful situation wants. I mention that because when coaching your team, you want them to focus on the “little things” well. You don’t want them to think they need to be theatrical or Southwest Airlines wild and wacky in their service delivery.

 

How to Make the Most of This Article

 

Share the article with your team and use it to remind them of their experiences.—Ask them to reflect on recent experiences they’ve had as customers and what kind of customer experience they had.

  • Was it consistently positive?
  • Were there some employees and processes that left them feeling positive and others negative?

Use their stories as a launching pad for a discussion on how every Moment of Truth matters and how everyone being on the same page matters.

Make your Brand Promise explicit—Describe what your brand promise means in terms of the customer experience. Describe examples of what it looks and sounds like in action, and then ask your employees to think of examples of employee behaviors that could damage your brand promise. Involve your employees in generating examples.

Share success stories of your Brand Promise in action—Pay attention to little moments of truth where you witness an employee personifying one of your brand values. When you receive positive customer feedback, discuss with your team how the customer’s experience relates to your brand promise.  Make it a regular practice to use these examples of brand-building service delivery to both celebrate and teach. Here’s a post on how to use storytelling to communicate what your Brand Promise looks and sounds like.

 

Note: This article was originally published at www.CustomerManagementIQ.com

 

To learn more about how to make sure ALL of your employees are delivering your Brand Promise, contact david@humannatureatwork.com

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