Saturday, April 23, 2016

Involving employees for a great brand

Sometimes it feels organisations spend more time on internal processes, "getting organized" and clarifying the way of working rather than focusing on understanding where they are with customers. Getting organized is even done before the strategy is clear, which is odd - shouldn't one know where to focus before putting resources in place.

In a service organization it is however vital that the employees are engaged in a meaningful way in understanding their role to form a unified chain of service activities. How the customer experiences the company contributes to the brand. The brand is an image and a perception - and based on various associations the customers have with the company. All employees contribute. Thus a clear brand destination should be defined.

The book Bulkista brändiksi ("From bulk to a brand") by Kahri, Kahri, Mäkinen and Ahto, states that the employees of a service organization have a vital role in producing a customer experience. The changes in the way of working of a company have to be based on involving employees. What the employees do and how they perform has a direct impact to the brand value of the company. Management has to make sure that employees have understood the company mission, values, vision and objectives based on the strategy. All of this has to be simple enough that personnel desires and strives at acting in new ways required.

Brand brings a strong customer point of view to the organization via how the company wants to be perceived and be positioned - and gives a soul to its operations. The brand should be reflected in services, design, all customer interactions, how the employees behave and how the company communicates with its customers and stakeholders.

In order to build a strong brand, employees should be engaged to clarify:
* strategy and key focus areas - what and whom to focus on
* vision - what kind of company do we want to be in the long term
* mission - what is our role
* customer promise - what do we promise for our customers that makes us unique
* brand - how we want to be perceived by our customers and how we should behave.

Numerous lists of things may not be memorable to understand what the company stands for. Rather, examples of way of working - in good and bad - and celebrating the positive successes. A company that strives at being more open, innovative and collaborative towards new stakeholders succeeds in running an international level innovation contest, which is building excitement internally and externally. A company that focuses on safety renews its tools and processes - and decreases number of injuries. A company that desires to be faster and more flexible introduces a service promise that includes given quotation and delivery times. Performing any such activities requires that employees plan, implement and follow up to influence the service activities to customers - and the brand.