Your business may have a strong, well-articulated brand. But even the best brand will suffer if your company's customer service doesn’t reflect and support your brand message.
For example, Disneyland's brand is "the happiest place on earth," a brand is reflected at the amusement parks by smiling, helpful employees who go out of their way to create magical moments for visitors. Imagine the effect on the Disney brand if employees were surly and poorly groomed? All the marketing in the world wouldn't overcome the disconnect between that brand and its customer service.
So how can you ensure that your customer service supports your brand? Here are some steps to follow.
Make sure that your employees understand and embrace your brand. New employees should be oriented to your business brand and mission statement as part of their on-board training, while existing employees’ ongoing training should emphasize the importance of building the brand. Get employees on board with your brand by:
- Explaining branding in general
- Sharing what your brand is
- Explaining how your brand differentiates your business from your competition
- Explaining how a strong brand can benefit the company — for example, by attracting more customers or enabling you to expand your business to new locations—and how that, in turn, benefits the employees.
Use concrete examples to explain employees’ roles in enhancing the brand. Branding can be a complex issue to understand, but using concrete examples will help clarify what employees should and shouldn’t do and how their actions affect the brand. For example, if your bakery requires employees to wear gingham aprons as part of their uniform, you can explain that the apron reflects your brand of homemade baked goods “just like Grandma used to make.” Understanding that your rules aren’t arbitrary will help employees see their importance.
Incorporate brand-related actions into your operations manual and/or employee manual. You can help ensure a cohesive brand message by creating rules, scripts and templates for employees to follow in interacting with customers. For instance, you may want all employees to answer the phone in a certain way, such as "Good morning, it's a delicious day at Granny’s Bakery! How can we help you today?" or to answer the phone on the second ring. You may want to create:
- Grooming code (make sure this complies with any state or federal labor laws in terms of discrimination)
- Dress code (ditto)
- Script for answering phone
- Script for greeting customers when they enter your place of business
- Script for helping customers with complaints or problems
- Template for sending emails to customers/standard response templates to use in reply to customer email
Pay particular attention to customer problems and complaints. The way you deal with unhappy customers can make or break their loyalty. When everyone follows the same scripts and rules, you’ll convey a consistent brand message, even in difficult situations.
Don't forget the digital aspect of customer service. Many customers will prefer to contact your business via your website, email, online chat or social media. The way you respond to these contacts is vital in conveying the brand. For example, if your brand is informal and friendly, your digital presence should reflect that. You can create template responses such as autoreplies that convey a casual, friendly vibe as opposed to sounding like they’re written by a robot. In addition, your social media posts and replies should all reflect the same general tone and attitude to enhance a consistent brand message.
Monitor how well your customer service reflects your brand. You can do this by:
- Following up with customers after a purchase to ask about their satisfaction
- Conducting regular surveys of customers, online, by email, by phone or in person
- Monitoring what customers are saying about you on social media
- Using independent secret shoppers (or employing your friends and family) to visit your business and report back on the customer service they received
By implementing these steps, you can help ensure that your company's customer service accurately reflects, conveys and strengthens your business’s brand.