How do you begin to translate your company’s brand promise into actions that your frontline agents can carry out?
One of the key strategic questions to ask your executive team is, what is the experience that we’re trying to deliver? “It is quite surprising, but most organizations can’t articulate that,” says Colin Shaw, founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, a global customer experience consultancy, and author The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value. “The answer to that question should be a derivative of the brand. The brand makes the promise in the marketplace, and the customer experience delivers against that promise.”
Shaw recommends reaching out to the brand team for help interpreting the brand concept into actionable terms that can be operationalized, and to come up with a customer experience statement, “which is a clearer articulation of what you’re trying to do for your customer,” he says.
Keep in mind that a branded experience is primarily emotional—and the key is to stay focused on the emotional engagement, says Janelle Barlow, Ph.D., president of TMI US, a multinational training and consulting firm focused on branded customer service projects. Barlow is co-author of Branded Customer Service: The New Competitive Edge. She suggests leaders ask, what do we stand for?
“Define how you are both emotionally and rationally different from your competitors in your market place, in your service category and in your product category,” she says. “What is the experience you want to create for your customers, and how are you going to deliver this experience? Define that very precisely, and in terms that frontline agents can easily understand and integrate into their delivery style.” Simpler is better. For instance, she points to Apple as an example of a successful organization with a very straightforward brand idea: “We want people to have smiles on their faces when they use an Apple,” as former CEO Steve Jobs said.
“It’s about uniqueness and finding a simple idea that can be projected, because there is so much noise and competition in the marketplace,” Barlow adds.
The key is to differentiate. Barlow recommends Googling for phrases and slogans to see how many companies and websites are using similar ones. For instance, she points out that “the customer is always right,” brings up more than 25 million hits. “There are so many possibilities available, you don’t want to copy somebody else’s brand position.”