When the brand promise is seen as corporate jargon
Having worked in dozens of companies of all types and sizes, I’m afraid to say that, all too frequently, I come across employees who say that they not only don’t understand the company’s purpose statement or brand promise, but they don’t know how it is supposed to guide their daily actions. The brand promise was simply corporate jargon and became irrelevant to them.
Creating alignment between what an employee does and this promise is one of the single most important things a leader can do, because this plays a central role in achieving business goals. However, I’ll bet that very few of your employees know how their own performance impacts on your organization’s goals.
Intellectually, who could ever argue with the idea that you have to put the customer first? So we can say the words and truly believe it necessary, but still not go the extra mile to ensure that the customer experience is a great one. When you are connected to the customers and can see the emotional benefits they derive from what you do, you are now invested with a will to succeed that it is difficult for managers to inject by themselves.
This is why the really savvy leaders find all sorts of ways to connect customer experiences more closely with employee behaviours. These leaders talk about customers all the time, they bring stories about customer experiences into the meeting rooms and discussion groups, into the corridors and into the groups around the water coolers. They get employees to talk about how they feel when customers express their delight at a service or product. They get colleagues to share stories about how they went the extra mile for a client. They bring research about customer satisfaction into brainstorms and relentlessly focus people on the data. They even bring customers into meetings and get them to provide staff with a deeper understanding of their customer needs, as well as the benefits of the products or services, in their own words. Some leaders even find ways to bring end-users or customers into their teams to work creatively together to find better solutions or products.
By bringing customers or end-users into the team, leaders are communicating without speaking. They’re sending powerful signals that it’s important. They show that they are prepared to listen and that they care about customers. The communication is powerful even if it is the customer who does the talking for you.
There is no doubt that when customers are connected to employees directly, the motivational impact is greater. But often leaders may lack access to end-users and will have to be more creative in providing the inspiring effect of customer stories.