Your employees are one of your company’s greatest assets. What they say about your company, how they act in the workplace, and how happy they are in their roles all impact on your brand, your image, your levels of service and ultimately your customers’ satisfaction. B2B Marketing recently published an article entitled BRANDING: Motivating employees to be your ‘brand carriers’. The article, which is shown below, makes interesting reading.
Many B2B companies have gone through mergers and takeovers, with the associated churn in staff, sense of insecurity, loss of implicit knowledge and know-how… So, more than ever, B2B companies need to re-address the way they interact with their employees. Positive interaction, fostering brand engagement, can have a massively beneficial impact on your company – and your bottom line.
- Boost the role of employees in brand communications
B2B companies’ employees are one of their most powerful assets and need to be recognised as such in any brand communications programme. Including an ‘employee engagement programme’ as a part of your brand plan is a good start. The role of the employee in branding the company is critical – whether it be sales, customer services, or technical support, all have direct customer interface. In effect, they are the brand.
- Understand the networks that employees use
Customers and suppliers form relatively small, interlinked professional worlds. Many of them know each other, often from previous employment positions. Markets talk, so it’s time to start listening to what your employees are saying about the company – document both the good and the not so good.
- Get top management buy-in
Bottom-up employee engagement initiatives only work if they are joined up with company strategy and senior management. Before spending masses on large-scale employee engagement surveys, give management a ‘weather check’ on the mood of the company, and pinpoint areas that need addressing.
- Avoid stale jargon – be honest
Whatever communication tools are used to engage employees – surveys, newsletters, web-casts, intranets, away-days with specialist consultants – it’s crucial that senior management avoid soundbites that sound like lipservice.
- Address disconnects between company behaviour and communication
Successfully communicating in today’s Web 2.0 world means addressing inherent distrust and cynicism. Honesty and transparency are important: how a company behaves rather than what it says sends out the strongest signal. If your company really is driven first and foremost by shareholder value, then admit that.
- Reward honesty in feedback
Many corporations tend not to interpret negative feedback in the right way, taking it as a way to sideline people who dare speak their minds. This needs to be addressed, otherwise potentially timid employees will be too frightened to voice their opinions.
- Use social media for employee engagement
Companies need to go beyond traditional one-way communication vehicles and embrace the world of modern, democratic and conversational-driven media. The industry networks that exist offline – industry events, forums, trade-fairs – are being complemented by these increasingly popular social media channels.
- Consider hiring employee engagement professionals
Corporations can get involved with their employees by hiring community engagement professionals, whose job it is to listen and engage within industry forums, read blogs, pick up where the company image is, and re-engage with individuals directly or with influential members of the group in question, to identify problem areas, address them and ensure that change wishes are followed up.
- Define the experience you wish the customer to have
In a world where product differentiation is increasingly difficult to achieve and maintain, aspects of service and experience branding – employee branding in this instance – are becoming ever more critical in making a difference. When the technical director or buyer of a client company is asked on a forum, or at an industry trade fair, by a previous colleague or acquaintance, “What are those people at Corporate X like to do business with?” you want them to give a positive picture.
- Boost word-of-mouth
What employees say about their company to friends is likely to carry huge weight – more weight indeed than an ad in a traditional B2B industry magazine or a new corporate brochure. If employee views are valued, companies can genuinely create enthusiasm that will spread through the organisation, impacting positively on a range of areas leading to enhanced customer satisfaction.
So maybe it’s time to switch the focus from the voice of the shareholder or the customer to the voice of the employee – the employee as brand ambassador.
This entry was posted
on Monday, January 25th, 2010 at 11:08 am and is filed under Branding, Corporate Identity, Employee Satisfaction, Employment, Human Resources, Management.
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